PAT Budget: No Fare Hike, No Service Cuts

May 21, 2015

Port Authority officials are proposing a budget of $397.8 million for FY 15-16, an increase of about $9 million from this year.

The 2.3 percent spending increase will not result in a hike to the base fare ($2.50), service cuts or job reductions.

“This is absolutely a really good sign for the Port Authority,” said transit agency spokesman Jim Ritchie.

In fact, the preliminary budget calls for a limited service increase in some routes to alleviate overcrowding.

“We don’t have the ability to restore routes wholesale, to go back in time, and take the routes that were cut back in 2011 and put them back in place as they used to be,” Ritchie said. “What this budget proposes is … there’s some very specific service extensions, bus route extensions in Baldwin and Groveton and to RIDC Park.”

The budget allots $500,000 to address timing and overcrowded buses.

“Those are the problems that probably scared people away over the last few years,” Ritchie said. “ At some point for some riders it becomes incredibly inconvenient and just not a fun experience, and so people with a choice will choose another form of transportation, they’ll move, they’ll start riding their vehicle, and then they don’t return to the system.”

Or as baseball Hall of Famer and malaprop artist Yogi Berra would opine: “Nobody goes there anymore; it’s too crowded.”

To implement those service enhancements the budget would add 68 positions, including 39 operators.

The budget anticipates $221.6 million from the state — up $9.1 million from the current fiscal year — and $30.2 million from Allegheny County, an increase of nearly $1.4 million. The increased state appropriation comes from Act 89, the $2.3 billion multi-year funding package for roads, bridges and mass transit.

The PAT Planning and Stakeholders Relations Committee will consider the budget on June 18, and the Board of Directors is scheduled to vote on it June 26.