Mass transit is the life blood of any city. An increasing number of workers can’t afford cars and depend on public transportation to get to and from work. Likewise for college students. In Pittsburgh, severe transportation funding cuts are likely forthcoming in the next state budget and both workers and employers are very concerned about how they will manage. Transit workers will be furloughed. And non-bus riders are worried about the impact on traffic congestion as commuters switch from bus to car.
Last week, a downtown employer (Dial America) announced it was expanding its operations— somewhere else. Bill Griffin manages a call center in Pittsburgh. He’d planned on expanding his business, adding 150 jobs. He didn’t. The Port Authority of Allegheny County plans to cut 46 of its 102 bus lines in September, while raising fares by about 10% to 15%, to help close a $64 million budget gap. The fare increase and historic service cuts have drawn fire not only from angry commuters but also from business groups, which want the state to help out. Republican Gov. Tom Corbett says the transit agency needs to put its fiscal house in order first. More than half of DialAmerica’s 300 Pittsburgh employees travel to work on a bus line slated for elimination, said Mr. Griffin, a vice president. “When we moved into this complex, the No. 1 consideration was to be near a public-transportation line,” he said.
Last Friday, protesters gathered in front of Gov. Corbett’s Pittsburgh office. They blocked traffic on Liberty Avenue and a number of them were arrested. SDUSA member Kristopher Cummings was there and snapped these photos for us.