Hard on the heels of its repugnant and indefensible vote to smear W and K Steel by designating it as a “sweatshop”, County Council has added to its irresponsible record by voting unanimously for a resolution urging the Port Authority (PAT) to spend all the recently received bailout money by June 30 to avoid impending service cuts and layoffs.
Facing a budget deficit of $47 million the Port Authority (PAT) says it will cut service hours by 35 percent, lay off 500 employees and eliminate service to 50 communities. The reasoning behind the 35 percent service reduction when projected revenues are only off by only 14 percent has not been adequately explained. One explanation is surely the outrageous level of health care and other benefit costs, especially those related to retirees that cannot be cut.
In any event here’s a better plan than the one PAT is talking about. First, the Legislature and the Governor should remove PAT’s monopoly over transit service and order the agency immediately to allow other transit providers to offer service, especially in those areas where PAT is planning to eliminate service. Moreover, the Legislature should eliminate the right of transit workers to strike.
Finally, PAT should ask all City and County officials, as well as civic and business leaders, to admonish the transit unions to make immediate pay and benefit concessions in order to save many jobs and lower the number of service hours that have to be cut. The retirees should be asked to make some sacrifices as well.
The continual slashing of service is no way to run a railroad, especially when PAT has no competition to fill the service gaps.
The lesson here is that government granted monopolies of a needed service whose employees are permitted to strike will become bloated, grossly inefficient, a heavy burden on taxpayers and a poor excuse for a service provider. That is PAT in a nutshell.