Thursday, April 16, 2009

Transportation and the Mayoral Race Part 2

Part 2 will focus on Candidate Carmen Robinson (I was going to do this alphabetically by last name, after the incumbent, but Ms. Robinson was the first to respond to me, and took the time to have a conversation with me about her ideas via e-mail. She deserves some credit for that.)

I posed the same question to Ms. Robinson that I posed to Mr. Ravenstahl, and Mr. Dowd: "What are your plans for transportation infrastructure and transit if elected as mayor?"

Her first answer was:
"Although I have thoughts on transportation and some experience in that industry, I will have to use the "bully pulpit" of the office since transportation is squarely a County Executive and County Council mandate. I didn't say issue because it affects all of us. Currently the office of the Mayor has no influence over Dan Onorato. I will change that!"

She went on to explain what a bully pulpit is, and I didn't include that. As far as an answer, it's pretty vague, but not far from a standard politician answer to a question. She is right that it is a County matter, but it is a big matter for the city. As far as how she would approach using the bully pulpit, she was again, pretty vague.

I sent her a clarification question, relating Luke Ravenstahl's "infrastructure wish list" and asked her if she had any more concrete ideas for improving transit and transportation. She responded by saying she would argue for sub-contracting out certain services. Saying that " If a private company were run the way PAT does, it would be out of business...A competive (sic) bid for sub contractors could give the system the boost it needs"

I certainly agree with her assertion that the Port Authority is not running as efficiently as it could. Again, just because the Port Authority is not a business, doesn't mean that they can't run efficiently and emulate a business. However, I question her plan on sub-contracting and on what scale? East Busway maintenance, for example is already contracted out, and that still sucks pretty bad too.

Even this discussion was pretty broad (but that is to be expected), but if you read between the lines of her discussion on sub-contracting, she has a point. Ms. Robinson is the first candidate to specifically discuss inefficiencies at the Port Authority.
The big question is, will she have the political muscle, and the time to devote to a true solution when there are plenty of other problems, and technically, she would not hold the mantle for transit in Pittsburgh.

Ms. Robinson's website, as with every other candidate website is not detailed, and I'm sure this is purposefully done. She has a section called "What I stand for" which again is very general and does not mention transit or transportation at all.

In my assessment, like the other candidates, transportation and transit are not hot button issues (other than staying away from them) for her. However, I think Ms. Robinson is aware of some of the problems that the Port Authority has, and thus far has been the most willing to admit to those problems. She certainly sounded like she was willing to give Dan Onorato her input on those issues, and from what I have been able to gather up to this point, that is more than our current mayor.

1 comment:

erok said...

thanks for doing these interviews with the candidates. i'll be publishing the candidate's responses to bicycle transportation issues on our website shortly, so keep a look out!