A RADical plan: RAD transit funding should be one-time only

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It's happened to all of us, and it's usually uncomfortable.

Someone we know well finds him or herself in a financial bind and asks for one-time assistance. We may know that the individual has been carelessly living beyond reasonable means, improperly managing the family budget or simply failing to tap into rightful sources of funding, but we acquiesce. Just this once, we might say.

That's the position the Allegheny Regional Asset District board is in now that it has awarded the Port Authority $3 million to help keep the county's transit operations running.

There is no doubt that reliable public transportation is an asset to the region, but it not the sort of entity that RAD was designed to assist. The 1-percent RAD sales tax charged on purchases in the county sends half of its dollars to municipalities and the other half to libraries, parks and arts and community organizations. These are destinations. This is the first time RAD money instead will fund a means of reaching destinations.

It should be a one-time thing.

The Port Authority applied for only a one-year allocation, but that's not necessarily the end of its requests. The authority has suggested in the past that it would return each year to make a case for funds, just as other RAD recipients do. That would be a mistake.

The RAD board has made an exception this year given that state has delayed for far too long the implementation of recommendations that could make more money available for roads, bridges and transit. But it should not make a habit of supplying money to the Port Authority. That's not its mission.

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