Outrage Over Pittsburgh Transit Agency Implosion

The city's Port Authority has proposed cutting 25 percent of its bus and rail service and hiking fares by 75 cents to plug an $80 million budget deficit.

"More than 140 people on foot and in wheelchairs testified at four-hour sessions at the Hilton Pittsburgh, Downtown, and later at the University of Pittsburgh's Alumni Hall in Oakland. They expressed anguish, outrage and frustration over the planned elimination of 124 of 213 bus routes, combined with a fare hike, to address an $80 million budget deficit for the 2007-08 fiscal year that begins July 1."

"With the support of Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato, the authority is proposing the deepest cuts in its 43-year history to "right-size" the agency -- that is, cut expenses, which have been growing three times as fast as inflation, to match stagnant revenues. They have said that to do nothing would be irresponsible and put the authority at risk of shutting down."

"Mike Edwards, executive director of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, representing interests from restaurants to office buildings, said while "tough changes" may be necessary, they should be only the first step in restructuring the agency.

Otherwise, he said, the changes will negatively affect Downtown at a time when city officials are trying to create a "24/7 city" including expanded housing. He said losing transit will also hurt the hospitality industry and add to traffic congestion."

Full Story: Angry riders assail planned mass transit cuts

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