By a vote of 27 to 22, the Southwest Pennsylvania Commission (SPC) has again chosen to toss its integrity out the window and approve moving more money to the dysfunctional money pit known as the Port Authority (PAT). And in doing so it has confirmed for the transit unions that money will always be found to bailout the preposterous operating costs, inefficiencies and enormous legacy costs of PAT thereby removing the necessity of the unions being asked to make concessions.
If the past is any guide, the unions have no intention of ever making concessions. Still, the prospect of losing another 500 jobs before March and even more after June might have convinced them to begin talking about givebacks. Now, that will not happen and probably never will as this was the best chance of extracting concessions PAT has ever had-too bad management never even brought the idea up in hopes of winning some public support. The SPC’s latest cave-in will be viewed by the unions as proof positive that bailouts will always be there. Future prospects of concessions have become nil.
It will be interesting see the report on who voted for and who voted against the SPC approving the money pass through. If most of the members who represent surrounding counties were "no" votes, and most of the "yes" votes were from Allegheny County or state appointees, the SPC’s action could be very bad for regional cooperation. How ironic. Allegheny County civic and government leaders constantly and loudly tout regional cooperation as the key to economic success. But when the rubber meets the road, they become County partisans-and worse union partisans. After all the money the SPC has provided for PAT over strenuous objections of board members from other counties, this latest vote can only be interpreted as in your face power politics. Why should they be surprised?
The only hope for bringing sanity to the disaster masquerading as a public transit system is for the state government to take a series of steps we have outlined in our latest report-now available online.