Could Transit Pact Pave Way to PAT Savings?

If a proposed agreement between Washington County and the Port Authority is executed bus riders in Washington County could see an estimated 15 minutes shaved off of their 90 minute trip to Downtown. How? By the Port Authority permitting use of its busways to GG and C Company, a private operator, to get people to and from Downtown from Washington (the company cannot pick up riders in Allegheny County due to state laws).

And the surrounding counties could adopt SmartCard technology (sort of like the Turnpike’s EZ Pass) that would eliminate the use of cash and coins for transit use.

Good innovations both-but could the presence of neighboring counties’ bus service (some of whom contract out service) be a way to whack away at the Port Authority’s costs? Consider that the Port Authority has a monopoly on bus service and the transit union has a monopoly on labor and enjoys the right to strike and shut the system down. That means there are never really any major changes to the labor force aside from attrition.

The Port Authority management could commit to a hiring freeze and state that when 20% of the workforce is gone they will turn that portion of service over to another operator, the neighboring counties with their contracted service certainly being in the mix. That would hopefully bring competitive pressure on wage and benefit growth downward, instead of a regional transit authority merger which would likely push wages and benefits up to the unsustainable Port Authority level.