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PAT Board Approves Budget

The Port Authority of Allegheny County board members today approved a $333,071,733 operating budget for fiscal year 2012-13. It includes 25¢ fare increases effective July 1. The new budget is $37 million less than the current year's.

The budget also assumes a 35% service cut that includes the elimination of 42 routes, plus most weekend and weeknight services, effective September 2nd.

"Time is running out," Bland said. "We continue to work with state, county and union leadership on a solution in the hopes of avoiding the September service reductions."

Bland said 135 operators have retired since January, putting an "enormous strain" on the system, and added that it has been more than a year and a half since anyone was hired.

"When you compound this with the fact that our dire financial condition has precluded us from filling open positions for well over a year," Bland said, "this directly impacts the number of employees we have on any given day to drive buses during rush hour, maintain our bus and light rail vehicles, and operate our light rail vehicles for special events."

PAT's legacy costs for retiree and healthcare benefits are expected to remain high and pose a challenge to the Authority's expenses. In addition, the Amalgamated Transit Union's contract with the authority's workers expires at the end of the month.

Heather Pharo, PAT spokesperson, stressed the 2013 budget is not set in stone, and can still be adjusted.

"Today's budget that was approved can be amended if there is a change in our operating funding or a change that would enable us to avoid September's cuts," Pharo said.