Thursday, November 20, 2008

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

I found an interesting article from the Tribune-Review, by way of (which is a great site about current events in the transit world, by the way). It talks about how the North Shore Connector is a large investment for minimal gains.

I don't know about you, but it has always seemed pretty clear to me that the Trib is not terribly friendly towards mass transit and is even more unfriendly to the Port Authority. That's not to say that there is not merit to certain points they bring up. This is an example of that.

There have been many bastardizations since the Spine Line Corridor Study was published in 1993. The final product we have been left with is a nearly half billion dollar project that nets the "T" 1.2 miles, and two stops. Truly, the project is a huge expense, that does little to address the strategic needs of Pittsburgh's transit system.

On the other side of the coin, Federal funding the likes of which Pittsburgh has seen for this project does not come along often. The government was willing to pay for it, and we would be foolish to turn it down.

I guess the bigger question is where do we go from here? Dan "the Man" Onorato himself has said that we are unlikely to see such a large amount of government funding for another 25 years. Do we attempt any additional expansions at all? Do we try and get state funding? Do we attempt a cheaper expansion to the western suburbs? Do we attempt an expansion to the east?

Unfortunately, there are lots of questions and nothing that is easily answered. For now our best bet would be to maximize on what we are getting. The area around the casino could surely support my bro T.O.D. Other than that, I can tell you my commute to Stiller games will be alot easier!


Schultz said...

Why can't we circulate petitions and get a comprehensive expansion of the light rail system on the ballot next year? If we can estimate the costs (several billion at least) and determine the types of taxes that have to be imposed to pay for it - let the people decide. 23,006 signatures is a lot but with enough grassroots support we could get it done.

East Busway Blogger said...

I think that would be a great idea. The biggest issue I would see is tax-o-phobia of Allegheny County residents. Look at the hub-ub about the drink tax. I understand you have to pay for it all some how, but I have a feeling that would go over like the proverbial lead ballon. I guess you don't find out if you don't try though.

Schultz said...

Exactly, and right now with $2 gasoline it might not be the right time to attempt to get a referendum on the ballot - but when the global economy bounces back we'll see $3 gasoline, then eventually $4 a gallon gasoline....then maybe we finally get a real lightrail/subway system here in the burgh.