PAT Union May Have Tripped on Its Own Rules

If an alternative to mass transit pops up in Allegheny County you can be sure that the Port Authority’s transit union will oppose it. After all, if an alternative were to be allowed that would mean the hammerlock PAT and the union have on transit would be loosened.

The latest case involves a hotel-to-casino service that a private operator wants to run. The union took the operator to court and the union questions "why the Port Authority could not create such a route for itself."

Part of that answer could lie in the union contract dictating the use of small transit vehicles, or mini-buses. We’ve advocated that this type of vehicle ought to be put into service to get riders to collection points for transfers onto larger vehicles, especially the light rail in the South Hills. But the labor contract (in which the provisions apparently still stand, since mediation and fact-finding on the last contract did not touch those) limits the number of vehicles that can be used (3% of large buses in service) and where they can serve (low density areas, defined as an area not served by existing routes).

This negotiated limitation on the number and service area (a newspaper article stated that a fixed bus route already goes by the casino) that the union has used as a tool to keep the large bus-and the qualifications it takes to drive and maintain one-as the main vehicle of the Authority may have come back to bite the union and its desire to gain a hold on this particular service.