Transit meltdown: Port Authority cuts will hurt more than expected
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Anyone who has experienced Pittsburgh on a stifling summer day knows the simple number on a thermometer doesn't tell the whole story. You've got to consider both the heat and the humidity to gauge the misery.
The gap between the Port Authority's $60 million shortfall and the real cost of its impact on Allegheny County residents is like that.
If the Port Authority goes ahead with the 35 percent service reduction necessary to balance its books, the actual cost to commuters will be $328 million to $405 million per year. Here's how the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group, which advocates for more state money for transit, calculated those figures:
• An estimated 15,000 transit customers who lose their service will have to spend $60 million to $137 million more to commute.
• Pittsburgh's traffic congestion costs, now estimated at $850 million a year, will go up by $268 million.
• People who live outside Allegheny County but use park-n-ride lots and catch buses there will pay another $6.9 million to $15.5 million if they cannot use those services.
• And Pittsburgh will need additional parking garages, which the group estimated would cost at least $50 million.
Even the most conservative estimate -- $60 million in costs for displaced riders and more congestion -- is too high. Plus, the numbers don't take into account the inevitable damage that a bare-bones transit system would do to Pittsburgh's competitiveness and reputation as a modern city on the mend.
The Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group study offers added incentive to keep state, local and union officials at work on a new contract with Port Authority drivers and mechanics. If they can obtain significant concessions from the union, Gov. Tom Corbett will provide an additional $30 million to $35 million in state funding to help prevent the service cuts. The region can't afford it if they fail.
First Published July 19, 2012 12:00 am