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Development & Transportation

PAT Cuts Costing Taxpayers

With the Port Authority of Allegheny County's scheduled service cuts in September looming, an initiative of the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group, GoBurgh, found the cuts could be costing taxpayers more than was thought.

Chris Sandvig, GoBurgh's Regional Policy Director, said the group anticipates the cuts will cost taxpayers in Allegheny County as well as the surrounding counties hundreds of millions.

"Really that's based upon car ownership of transit riders," Sandvig said.

Sandvig said reports show people who ride public transit in the Pittsburgh area save $9,100 a year, but that data assumes that riders do not own vehicles. The problem, Sandvig said, is that the majority of transit riders in the Pittsburgh region own cars.

"For those people who own cars, it's more like $4,000 to $4,200 annually that people are saving by riding transit," Sandvig said, "so if they can't ride transit naturally that's a cost that they're incurring that they didn't have before."

Sandvig noted that there is a demand for transit, and it's more productive than ever, but, Sandvig said, the cuts will effect everyone's wallet, whether they use public transportation or not.

"Whenever we're considering the fact that we're trying to save $60 million in one place, it will, in fact, cost us hundreds of millions somewhere else," Sandvig said.

GoBurgh looked at additional costs to taxpayers the 35% service reduction would affect, like parking and congestion costs. He added Pittsburgh could not function without public transit, so a funding solution needs to be reached.

"It's simply a matter of economics," Sandvig said. "You cannot get the number of people in and out of the neighborhoods that you need to get in and out of the neighborhoods for the business districts to work, for the compact housing to be attractive, or really to provide a quality of life that people enjoy, and particularly young professionals and the elderly are looking for more and more in their lives."