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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 transit.

“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 way.”

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 healthcare costs.

There are 33 mass transit systems in Pennsylvania.

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