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Save Our Transit Visits Harrisburg
by david Tuesday, Oct. 05, 2004 at 7:38 PM
Save Our Transit travels to Harrisburg to demand adequate funding for public transit.
Earlier today 56 Pittsburgh public transit users and activists packed into a bus and took their case to the state capital. Stressing the need to pass Senate Bill 1162 and its companion House Bill 2697 to increase state funding for public transit, they met with a number of representatives and forced legistlators to look public transit users in the eye.
Save Our Transit member and Thomas Merton Center Executive Director Tim Vining expressed concern about legislators' efforts to connect the issue of public transit's funding to PA highways' funding. Not only does the highway lobby have vastly more resources than the public transit lobby, but rebuilding highways will do little good for people dependent on public transit.
After those meetings, Save Our Transit held a rally in Harrisburg that they organized jointly with a statewide group called Penn Trans. About 100 people were in attendance. Save Our Transit co-founder Linda Warman spoke passionately at the rally about how service cuts would affect her personally as a transit dependent worker whose salary is barely above minimum wage.
Public Transit activists also paid a visit to Governor Rendell's office. He was not in, but the group made arrangements to meet with him next month.
While Pittsburgh's Save Our Transit was the only group present today consisting of public transit dependent people, a newly formed group from Philadelphia called Save Transit plans to to emulate Save Our Transit's model. Save Our Transit activists may pay a visit to Philadelphia to help them do so.
"Save Our Transit member and Thomas Merton Center Executive Director Tim Vining expressed concern about legislators' efforts to connect the issue of public transit's funding to PA highways' funding. Not only does the highway lobby have vastly more resources than the public transit lobby, but rebuilding highways will do little good for people dependent on public transit."
Consider this from another perspective. Let's say you live in rural Pennsylvania. Let's say the politicians in Harrisburg raise the state gas in order to help fund public transportation. How does this effect you?
Well, you live in a rural community so public transportation most likely doesn't exist near you. The primary beneficiaries of the revenues derived from the gas tax will be in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
So you, being a rural Pennsylvanian, will have to pay higher taxes with no benefit to your or your family.
Now, if your representative in Harrisburg, the person who is supposed to be looking after the needs and concerns of his or her constituents, were to vote for such a bill to raise taxes in order to fund public transportation, do you think that person would have an easier or harder time being re-elected?
Now, I am a big advocate for public transportation, and think we need much stronger and efficient public transportation systems in Pittsburgh, but you have to understand just why bills proposed to fund such endeavors might have something like highways attached to them. If the people in the state who aren't effected by public transportation are being taxed at higher rates, they need to get something out of it. I don't consider that an unreasonable compromise.
What we really should do however, is take a long hard look at the current management of the Port Authority and its Philadelphia equivelent in an effort to discren just WHY things are in such bad shape. Then of course, take decisive action to remedy and found problems.
That should read "raise the state gas tax" not "raise the state gas". (typo)
And in case I didn't make it clear enough, rural communities are ever concerned with new roads and road maintenance in their communities.
(A preview button before posting would be nice on this site.)
by ... Thursday, Oct. 07, 2004 at 6:45 AM
just to be clear, the state gas tax does not go towards mass transit. PA's state constitution says that no money from the gas tax can be used for mass transit, it all goes for road related things. what transit advocates were pushing in the Senate and House bills was to redirect more of the sales tax towards transit and to lift the cap currently on how much they get from the 1.22% of the sales tax already dedicated to it. and these bills would result in an extra 300$ million or so for mass transit, not just to Pgh and Philly but to all the transit systems in the state (I think it's 70 or so).
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