Is PAT Truly Out of Options Regarding Service?
The Port Authority of Allegheny County (PAT) is making headlines by claiming they are out of options regarding service. Their planning and development committee recommended moving forward with service cuts, fare increases, and job layoffs as a way to deal with looming budget deficits for both the coming year and the following. While they may be out of options regarding additional revenues, with the State facing its own budget crisis as more money from Harrisburg is unlikely, are they really out of options regarding service?
If the transit agency is truly concerned with their riders they will consider thinking outside the box to bolster service instead of cutting it. This recognizes the fact that the Authority holds a monopoly over public transit and would have to give permission for any outside agency to provide service.
One recommendation is to allow routes to private bus companies or to neighboring transit agencies. Currently transit agencies from other counties run routes into Pittsburgh. Why not let them pick up additional passengers along the way? PAT’s board could come to agreements to provide service to areas that will be underserved or have not service at all.
If an existing agency doesn’t have the equipment they could lease any unused buses from PAT for $1 per year. With the cuts to service and potential for hundreds of layoffs, PAT will have unused buses that could be leased out
Of course with the service cuts, layoffs, and fare increases scheduled to take effect in July 2011, PAT would have to move quickly on bidding out routes and giving other transit agencies time to enter into negotiations as to which routes they would like to pick up. This type of out of the box thinking may not only avoid drastic service cuts, it may also create and incentive for PAT’s employees to reconsider their adamant opposition to any type of concession.