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by stephen donahue Thursday, Sep. 09, 2004 at 12:43 PM

With the Port Authority projecting a $30 deficit for the present fiscal year this is “do or die for public transit” say Save Our Transit members.

Early this summer, just before their recess a bipartisan group of Pennsylvania law makers introduced legislation that moves the state a long way toward establishing a more reliable and stable source of dedicated revenue for public transit operations all across the commonwealth.

Senate Bill 1162 and its companion House Bill 2697 will increase state funding for public transit by $282 million. The Port Authority’s share of this will be around $64 million. Absent these bills bus and light rail riders in Allegheny County will likely face major service cuts in 2005 so that the Port Authority can balance its $30 deficit budget as state statute requires. As almost happened in FY03-04 the service cuts implemented by the Port Authority would about destroy all weekend and night time bus and light rail service.

On Monday, September 13, 2004 at 11:45AM, Save Our Transit will hold a rally in support of SB1162/HB2697 in the portico of the City-County Building, 414 Grant Street in downtown Pittsburgh. Local state legislators, County Council members and the Pittsburgh City Council have been invited to attend and speak along with public transit riders.

“Save Our Transit is rallying now because the legislators are about to go back to Harrisburg and we want them to make the passage of these bills a major priority”, says Save our Transit co-founder Stephen Donahue. “When these bills pass we will be spared the annual fear of getting ready to lose public transit service”, adds bus rider Linda Warman.

In 2001 the Port Authority was forced to increase fares in response to funding shortfalls. In 2002 the Port authority had to increase fares again and also cut service in order to balance the budget. In 2003 the Port Authority planned on cutting Sunday and nighttime service to compensate for a $19 million deficit. This was averted at the last minute by a one time flex of highway money. This year the Port Authority’s operating budget deficit will leave them $30 million in the hole and there are no band aids left. “Its do or die”, says Donahue, “the state must fix the problem of chronic funding shortfalls or public transit in Pennsylvania will just die, it’s that simple.”

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by donahue Thursday, Sep. 16, 2004 at 8:56 AM

Please note that the article contains two references to the Port Authority's "$30 deficit." Unfortunately that should read "$30 MILLION deficit."

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