Inclusion of Mass Transit in Transportation Funding Bill
October 16, 2013- Don Rooney
HARRISBURG- As the House debates a transportation funding
bill already passed by the state Senate, Senator Jay Costa of Allegheny County
is reminding his colleagues that mass transit funding is as important as money
to repair roads and bridges.
“In the very near future the state House of
Representatives may consider a transportation funding plan. While there is no
question that Pennsylvania needs a robust plan to meet our road and bridge
needs for the future, the plan must also include significant dollars for mass
“Failing to incorporate mass transit funding
as an integral part of any proposed plan will result in significant
consequences for our transportation network and for the millions of people who
use it to travel each day. While other policy initiatives are under
consideration, we cannot allow the needs of our mass transit system to fall by
the wayside, impacting commuter traffic and hundreds of transit agency jobs.
“The Senate plan – Senate Bill 1 – provided
for an increased investment of $480 million annually by the fifth year of the
funding plan. Any heavily watered-down transportation plan emerging from the
House that fails to embrace the needs of mass transit is unacceptable and
transit must not be split away from road and bridge funding. There must be a
comprehensive package that funds rail, ports, airports and pedestrian projects
in addition to roads, bridges and mass transit.
“Any plan that results in a significant loss
of dollars for transit needs to be carefully reviewed by the Senate.
Hard-working Pennsylvanians depend on mass transit systems for work. As we
contemplate our future transportation needs, we must ensure that our plan
includes solutions to fix the infrastructure problems we are currently face.
“Unquestionably, mass transit is critically
important for Allegheny County and other regions of the state. An efficient and
effective transportation system is an economic magnet; therefore there must be
a major investment. No plan should be adopted by the General Assembly and
signed into law by the governor if it fails to address transit in a meaningful
The Port Authority of Allegheny County has
2400 employees, operates 700 buses, 83 light rail vehicles and has 230,000
daily riders. Since 2007, PAT has undergone significant reforms and the union
has made significant concessions and has increased its healthcare
contributions, increased age and service requirement and trimmed retiree
There are 33 mass transit systems in