Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Reaching for the Stars

Today's Post Gazette and Tribune Review* had an article about an ambitious (that would be an understatement) plan for rail service in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. Dan Onorato is requesting a total of $17.5million dollars for this plan. $10.5 million of this request is to get the New Ken to Pittsburgh commuter rail plan off the ground, and $7 million is to begin studies on an LRT link to the airport, an LRT link to Oakland (could it be...the Spine Line completed??!!!) along with a "people mover" system to connect Pittsburgh's neighborhoods.

Wow, that's a lot, and if you scroll down further through the article you will find that the price tag for all this is a measly $3.5 Billion. Mr. Onorato feels that now is the time to act and take advantage of the "...sea change of philosophy in Washington." He has requested the help of Reps Mike Doyle, and Jason Altmire, an outspoken transit proponent to secure this money.

First of all, however realistic this plan is or how likely the funding is to occur, I've gotta hand it to the guy, I like the way he thinks. A world class city deserves world class transportation.

My idealistic side thinks that Dan Onorato and Jason Altmire are forward thinkers who have a great vision of what transportation and transit should be in the region and are willing to go for it.

However, my pragmatic side has to get his side of the story in. Does anyone really believe that this will happen? I like just about everything that Dan Onorato is quoted as saying in this article. However, history is not on his side. Additionally, people didn't like the $500 million for the NSC, do you think they will it like if you change the M to a B? I know that Pittsburgh would get so much more out of this project than the NSC, but I think the average tax payer is only looking at the price tag, and not what you're getting for the price.

Having said that, there are a lot of options here. If Pittsburgh could just get one of the "options" discussed by Dan Onorato, it would be great. I would take a "people mover", I would take a downtown to Oakland LRT, and I would even take an LRT line to the airport.

For now, I'm happy for what we've got. By that I mean, I'm glad we've got at least two progressive leaders who are taking steps to improve mobility, and actively improve our city, and our region.

*Just Kidding! The Trib doesn't actually cover transit, unless it's to bash the NSC.

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