Port Authority of Allegheny County

Mike Richards / 90.5 WESA

Two buses pull up to the stop at 6th Avenue and Wood Street in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nothing out of the ordinary, right?

On Wednesday, they carried residents from Baldwin and Groveton Village whose residents haven't had a nearby bus stop since 2011 when the Port Authority of Allegheny County cut services to 15 percent of its users as a cost-savings measure.

The authority's expansion of both the 44 Knoxville route to Baldwin and the 20 Kennedy route to Groveton began Tuesday as part of its quarterly service adjustments.

Rebecca Devereaux / 90.5 WESA

If you're hoping to take the incline to Mt. Washington over the holiday weekend, you are in luck.

Major rehabilitation work on the Monongahela Incline scheduled to begin Aug. 31 was postponed for eight days following meetings between the Mt. Washington Community Development Corporation and the Port Authority of Allegheny County. Local business owners complained that the loss of the incline, a major method of transportation to the neighborhood, would hinder visitors over the holiday.

The Mon Incline will be closed for nearly 12 weeks starting Aug. 31 for major reconstruction.

According to Port Authority spokesman Jim Ritchie, the $3.5 million project includes: replacing all of the ties and track on the hillside, replacing some of the cable wheels that guide the major hauling cable and the safety cable, installing a new hauling cable and some renovations to the cars.

The Port Authority’s plan to charge for new and replacement ConnectCards has been put on hold.

The board’s planning and stakeholder relations committee postponed its consideration of the proposal at the July 16 meeting, leaving no resolution for the board to consider on Friday.

“The committee anticipates continued discussion on this topic and will determine whether this should appear on the agenda in the upcoming months,” committee chair John Tague said.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Port Authority of Allegheny County officials are considering charging up to a $5 fee for their credit card-like ConnectCards to help offset more than $1 million already incurred to purchase and support their use.

More than 350,000 ConnectCards have been distributed for free since they began replacing paper passes and tickets in 2012. Spokesman Jim Ritchie said the authority swallows about $2.95 per card.

The proposed $5 charge would make the program more sustainable, he said.

Port Authority officials are proposing a budget of $397.8 million for FY 15-16, an increase of about $9 million from this year.

The 2.3 percent spending increase will not result in a hike to the base fare ($2.50), service cuts or job reductions.

“This is absolutely a really good sign for the Port Authority,” said transit agency spokesman Jim Ritchie.

In fact, the preliminary budget calls for a limited service increase in some routes to alleviate overcrowding.

John Marino / Wikipedia

The end of a three-year agreement between the Port Authority and the Steelers and Rivers Casino corporations that enabled T riders to reach Allegheny Station free of charge may upset the transit system's free fare zone. Without funds from either organization, the Port Authority must either pick up the tab itself or start charging riders who use the T stop to attend sporting events. Alex Zimmerman has been covering the story for the City Paper and joins us to discuss the issues surrounding the suspension of the deal. 

Zimmerman says the change is due, in part, to the Port Authority's desire to separate subsidies from advertising rights for the two stations on the North Shore:

"Port Authority went to [the subsidizing entities] and said 'We're happy to continue our agreement with you, but we want to retain ad rights.' ... The Steelers and casino aren't saying much about what their negotiating position is." -- Alex Zimmerman

Also in the program, local entrepreneur Mont Handley describes the peat moss substitute that he invented, Margaret J. Krauss tells an untold story about Pittsburgh during WWII, and Johnstown Tomahawks representative Chad Mearns talks about Johnstown's recent recognition as "Hockeyville USA."

On Tuesday, the city of Pittsburgh and the Port Authority of Allegheny County held the first of two public meetings to gather input on the proposed Forbes-Fifth Corridor.

About a hundred people attended the meeting to listen and share thoughts on the potential transportation infrastructure in the 5th/Forbes Corridor which links Downtown to Oakland, running through Uptown and part of the Hill District.

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner Wednesday threatened to take four county agencies to court for refusing to comply with her requests and delaying audits launched by her office.

Wagner wants to examine the contracting processes used by the Allegheny County Airport Authority, Port Authority of Allegheny County and the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (Alcosan), as well as the distribution of free tickets by the Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Sports and Exhibition Authority (SEA).

In 2011, 29 Port Authority (PAT) bus routes were eliminated due to lack of funding, and some residents are questioning why the 2015 Allegheny County budget allocates PAT funds to build a PennDOT pedestrian bridge, instead of working to reinstate the old bus routes.

In 2009 a court ruling stated that the drink and car rental taxes could only be used for PAT expenditures , yet the $1 million bridge will be paid for with those taxes and built by PennDOT.

Union Blames I-279 Bus Crash on Mechanical Failure

Sep 25, 2014

The Port Authority of Allegheny County thinks the driver is at fault, but the union thinks the Sept. 22 bus crash on Interstate 279 that injured a driver may have been a result of mechanical failure.

Steve Palonis, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85, said that after reviewing video footage and talking to drivers Juliann Maier and Thomas Frauens, there is no indication of reckless driving.

Flickr user tadekk

Seventeen more bus routes went live Thursday in Allegheny County’s Real Time Bus Arrival System, which gives riders instant information about where their Port Authority buses are.

The system is now up and running for a quarter of the 102 bus routes in the county, and another 15 routes will go online in the next two weeks. County executive Rich Fitzgerald said all routes will be available on the system by the end of the year.

Good News for Port Authority Bus Service

Aug 29, 2014
Flickr user wildcellist

When we hear news of Port Authority of Allegheny County service changes, it usually means we’ll have to brace ourselves for cuts in service. But with transportation funding legislation approved by the legislature and Governor Tom Corbett last fall, the authority plans to add more frequent service to some of the busiest routes. 

Electric cars have come a long way from having short ranges, and a wimpy top speed of 40 miles per hour. Now many electric cars can go upwards of 130mph, have a range of 250 miles, and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is trying to get more motorists to purchase one.

The Port Authority of Allegheny County approved shifting $1.56 million dollars from its capital budget to add to the amount needed to study a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line between downtown Pittsburgh and Oakland.

Port Authority Chairman Bob Hurley said an initial engineering and environmental study is a critical part of the process.

Pittsburghers Tell Port Authority CEO How to Improve Transit

May 21, 2014
Jim Ritchie / Port Authority of Allegheny County

What needs to be done to improve the region’s public transit? That’s the question Port Authority of Allegheny County posed to the public through a survey, and the first round of results are in.

Port Authority CEO Ellen McLean said the results were revealing.

Flickr user HerrVebah

Transit and city planning experts from all over the country are converging on Pittsburgh this week to help the Port Authority of Allegheny County create a plan for the future.

Port Authority spokesman Jim Ritchie said the nine consultants are part of the nonprofit Urban Land Institute and will come up with recommendations about how to improve the county’s transit system.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The Port Authority of Allegheny County is in a “significantly better place” today than it was in the last audit, according to Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.

The most recent audit covers the period of July 1, 2007 through Dec. 31, 2012. The last audit was completed in 2007 by former Auditor General Jack Wagner. At that time, there were serious concerns with unsustainable pension and healthcare costs.

DePasquale said now, the picture has improved.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The Port Authority of Allegheny County says several arrests are pending tied to the fraudulent reproduction of ConnectCards. ConnectCard is a smart card fare system now used by the Port Authority in an effort to phase out older paper and cardboard passes.  Multiple copies were made of four legitimate ConnectCards  and then sold outside of Port Authority approved channels; investigators did not say how many reproductions were made.

Michael Lynch / 90.5 WESA

Update: 11:35 a.m.

The Port Authority of Allegheny County is reporting that as of 11:30 a.m. light rail service has been restored to all lines. Riders should still anticipate 10 to 15 minute delays as the Port Authority works to restore its regular schedule.

Bus shuttles that have been providing service for Blue Line-Library riders will end at noon. 

Update: 11:11 a.m.

The Port Authority of Allegheny County has hired Ellen McLean as its next CEO. McLean has been serving as the interim CEO for nearly a year and was previously the chief financial officer for the Port Authority.

Snow is falling, trees are donned with lights and Pittsburgh’s Steel Plaza T Station is filled with toys.

It’s that time of year again.

The Port Authority of Allegheny County (PAT) and the U.S. Marine Corps are hosting the 10th annual Toys for Tots drive Friday.

PAT is looking for new, unwrapped toys as well as cash donations. Everyone who donates will receive a free cup of coffee from the station’s Crazy Mocha kiosk.

PAT spokeswoman Heather Pharo encourages everyone to come to the plaza and give what they can.

Flickr user wildcellist

A proposed plan to re-configure downtown bus routes has been placed on hold. However, not without raising concerns among riders.

The plan, according to Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, is to reduce the overcrowding and gridlock that occurs on downtown Pittsburgh streets.

Flickr user wildcellist

Opposition is starting to pile up for a recently revived proposal to keep buses out of most of the Golden Triangle. 

At the behest of some business owners and a few elected officials, the Port Authority of Allegheny County has been searching for years to find a solution to the congestion caused by buses passing through the heart of downtown.

Most recently, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and City Councilman Bill Peduto proposed that routes be pushed to the edges of downtown, forcing some riders to walk a few extra blocks to get to work. 

Flickr user HerrVebah

The Port Authority (PAT) is planning to limit the number of buses and bus stops in downtown Pittsburgh.

PAT hopes to reduce sidewalk traffic by shifting routes onto wider streets that outline Pittsburgh’s downtown.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald supports the plan, saying the new routes will cut down sidewalk obstruction on some of the area’s narrower streets.

“Taking buses off of certain streets,” he said, “away from certain corners, will alleviate some of that congestion, some of that traffic and some of the blockage of walking on the sidewalks.”

Most Port Authority Pay Stations Faring Well, PublicSource Survey Finds

Oct 2, 2013
Emily DeMarco / PublicSource

Allegheny County’s 59 new pay stations at light-rail platforms and bus stops have been performing well, with the exception of some along the East Busway.

PublicSource recently tested 54 of the pay stations operated by the Port Authority of Allegheny County and found few problems with the machines along the West Busway and light-rail lines. But nine of the 14 machines along the East Busway had one or more deficiencies.

Half of the East Busway’s machines could not print receipts. One didn't accept coins. Four of the machines’ robotic voices were broken.

Both the Pirates and the Steelers packed fans into sold-out stadiums Sunday night, but the Port Authority of Allegheny County was the true winner, according to Rich Fitzgerald.

At a news conference Monday, the county executive praised the Port Authority for how it handled Sunday night’s massive crowds and provided a report card for its progress.

The Port Authority of Allegheny County is a little bit closer to once again having a full board. Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald has submitted his for appointees to round out the newly reformed 11-member board.

The nine-member board of the Port Authority of Allegheny County closed a special meeting Friday without choosing a new CEO, meaning the task will be left to a new board that will feature nearly all-new faces. 

Currently the board is fully appointed by the County Executive, but a bill passed in the state legislature this spring changes the make up of the board to include 11 members appointed, in part, by the state. 

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Starting now, riders along the P1 East Busway will be able to track the vehicles in real time through the Port Authority's website, either on a computer, tablet or smartphone. The new program allows commuters to see either arrival times at specific stops or a map which shows where buses are.

“What it means on a cold, inclement day … whether you’re at home or at work you can look to see where your bus is to know when to go to your bus stop,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.