Tuesday, January 06, 2009


The 2008 Drink Tax was reportedly such a success for the Allegheny County coffers, that County officials were eager to migrate some of the funds earmarked for the Port Authority over to other transportation-related uses—like bridge and highway repairs. By now you’ve probably heard this story, and its follow-up: the courts ruled the fund migration a no-go, and the money will remain to be used by Port Authority only. What I want to know is, Why is $12 million considered a "surplus" for a bus and light rail system that recently laid off drivers, axed routes, reduced service on existing routes, charges prices disproportionately high for the city’s wages, and didn’t have impressive volumes of busses running before the latest cut-backs.

I’ve been deeply underimpressed, in fact, by three trips I’ve taken out of my usual routine in the last four days: Saturday I ran an errand on a bus route whose Saturday schedule is EVERY TWO HOURS. Sunday my beau and I were invited to an early supper at a friend’s in Lawrenceville—we left her house at 6pm but just missed a 54C to Oakland. We decided to walk rather than wait 50 minutes in the cold, and arrived in Oakland one hour later. Monday I waited for a bus in Shadyside at 6pm, thinking, “It’s weekday rush hour, it’ll be here any minute…” After 40 minutes of not spotting the 64A in either direction, I decided to walk home, which took about 50 minutes. Pittsburgh, you’re lucky I come from a family of Irish walkers.

Brain-drain no-brainer: Where do young graduates go when they leave Pittsburgh? To cities with viable public transportation systems, so they can work and play without having to buy a car on entry-level salaries or coffee shop wages. Good public transit makes a city feel lively, mobile, safe, and well-provided for; in other words, attractive. I'll gladly admit that so far, I’m satisfied with the bus choices I have to get me from home to work. But Pittsburgh has so much play to offer, too—so many great art shows, theatre events, readings, music, and other creative happenings—let’s get the public transit up to speed so their potential audience can attend those events. Dan Onorato, spend that so-called surplus on your busses!

1 comment:

Susan Constanse said...

Oh man, empathy, empathy!