P1120116, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from wyliepoon’s photostream

Facing a $64 million deficit in its operating budget for the coming fiscal year, The Port Authority of Allegheny County has recently announced service reductions which the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has called “the largest cut in the agency’s 48-year history”:

Venerable bus routes serving Mt. Lebanon, Coraopolis, Green Tree, Mount Washington, Oakmont, Edgewood and Sewickley will be among 46 routes eliminated by the Port Authority in September if there is no solution to a statewide transportation funding crisis.

Riders who aren’t stranded will pay more — the authority plans a 25-cent increase in the base Zone 1 fare, to $2.50, on July 1. Zone 2 rides will go up 50 cents, to $3.75. It will be the fourth fare increase in the past 4 1/2 years. The last was in January 2011.

As part of a 35 percent reduction in service hours that would take effect Sept. 2 — the largest cut in the agency’s 48-year history — all of the authority’s current 102 bus and rail routes would be scaled back, some ending altogether and others with deep drops in off-peak and weekend service, according to a summary released by the authority.

On all but 13 routes, service would terminate at or around 10 p.m. daily. Weekend service would be eliminated on the Blue Line of the Light Rail Transit system.

In the same article, Port Authority CEO Steve Bland has said of the cuts, “If we have to go through with these reductions, my feeling is it’s the beginning of the end of public transit as a significant carrier in the region.”

Port Authority has put out PDF brochures that detail both the lines affected and the increases in fares. The brochure covering general fare and service changes can be found here. ACCESS (65 Plus and ADA Eligible) service and fares will also not be sparred. A brochure outlining those changes is available here.

Riders and community members have the opportunity to comment on these proposed fare and service changes during Port Authority’s public comment period and public hearing.

The public comment period runs from Sunday, February 5, 2012 through Friday, March 9, 2012 at 4 p.m. You can comment online here. Additionally, comments will be accepted by mailing the following address:

Port Authority Fare & Service Proposals
Heinz 57 Center
345 Sixth Avenue, Floor 3
Pittsburgh PA, 15222-2527

There will also be a public hearing:

Port Authority Public Hearing
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown Pittsburgh

(Individuals wishing to testify are encouraged to pre-register by calling 412-566-5437 [TTY: 412-231-7007] from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on weekdays. Oral testimony will be limited to three minutes per speaker. Those who have not pre-registered may register at the hearing and will be called on as time slots become available. Port Authority will provide a sign language interpreter at the hearing as well as Braille copies of informational documents.)

More information is available at Port Authority’s website here.

Gov. Tom Corbett did not annouce any specific plans to help this transportation crisis during his budget address yesterday. The proposed changes will be devasting to public transit users. Please add your voice to the public record!

T Lightrail an der Station Square, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from kaffeeeinstein’s photostream