(a guest post by Patrick Singleton, Polish Hill resident and member of the Allegheny County Transit Council)
As you may have read in a recent Post-Gazette article, the Port Authority could face a big deficit in their operating budget for this coming year. A large portion of the approximately $50 million dollar deficit is a direct result of the federal government’s rejection of Pennsylvania’s application to toll Interstate 80, the cornerstone of the 2007 transportation funding bill known as Act 44, and a decision that affects money for transportation of all kinds, not just transit.
The Governor has called a special legislative session to address transportation funding, but the legislature also has to deal with larger budget issues, not just in transportation. Although the Port Authority’s Steve Bland has warned of “draconian” cuts under the worst case scenario, it is important to remember that they have not yet outlined what those cuts may be, nor can they tell how severe they may be. It all depends on what the legislature does to solve the problem.
So what should a concerned citizen do? The best option may be to contact your state senator and representative, tell them how important transit is to your life and well-being, and urge them to come up with a solid funding source for transportation, now!
Alternatively, do you have a brilliant idea about how to fund transportation, or would you just like to learn more about the issue? Representative Joe Marcosek of the House Transportation Committee is holding public hearings to learn more about and gather suggestions for solving the transportation funding crisis. The hearings are being held across the state; the nearest upcoming meeting is at 11am on Friday June 18th at Gateway High School in Monroeville.