Friday, August 20, 2010

The Public Hearing: The Day After

I won’t rehash the many arguments made at the hearing yesterday.  They all have their merits, and each covered a small piece of why public transportation is a PUBLIC SERVICE and is absolutely indispensable if we want our city to remain a great place to live and work. 

However, I cannot emphasize this point enough:  Public Comment is NOT over.  Let’s hope the 200+ speakers from yesterday’s public hearing is not even the tip of the iceberg.  

You can mail in your comment to: 

Port Authority Fare & Service Proposals
Heinz 57 Center, 345 Sixth Avenue, Floor 3 
Pittsburgh PA 15222-2527

For those of you that are more technologically inclined, you can fill out an online submission form here.  

If you use public transportation in Allegheny County, and enjoy the mobility you have, PLEASE make your voice heard.  

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Make Time

If you’re angry about the Port Authority’s funding being slashed and subsequent slashes to service….make time

If you don’t want to see residents that rely on this public service lose access to service and thereby lose their mobility…make time

If you are upset that the politicians that represent you are spineless and care more about not making a splash amongst potential voters than actually helping their constituents…make time

If you are unhappy that full time funding for transportation in this state was dangled in front of your face like a carrot, only to be pulled away…make time

If you are tired of yahoos from Central Pennsylvania whining about how their taxes go to those big city folk for their fancy buses, when if fact, we big city folk help pay for their roads…make time

You can go and testify, or log on and comment there.  Just like with the Connect '09 initiative, you have a chance to be heard and a chance to make your voice, and your opinions count.  You can be damn sure that I’ll be putting in my two cents.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Really? You're using this?

Poor, poor NSC.  It’s been the regional whipping boy for years now.  It’s taken the leap to the national political stage.  Here’s the article.

I’m no NSC cheerleader, but realize that it’s already near complete and will provide value to the region.  Check out this post for a more detailed opinion.

This is absolutely ridiculous.  Don’t use the NSC as your political pawn to validate your political agenda.  The NSC is not representative of the bailout, and the way in which it is presented is just plain misleading. 

The NSC is such a tiny piece of the overall stimulus package ($62.5 million out of $ 800 odd BILLION dollars).  I could probably find just as many examples of the Stimulus program helping to stimulate job growth as you could find examples like the NSC, but that is not the point of this post.

People constantly argue that the NSC should not have been built, but it was.  If they would have had to stop the project, the 4000 or so jobs related to this project would have been prematurely ended (while the economy was at its worst) and the Port Authority would have inherited tunnels that it could not use but still had to pay for.  You could argue that the cost per rider will be expensive, and it will, but PAT will at least re-coop at least some money through ridership.  If no one is using the tunnels because they could not be completed, then no money is being re-cooped and the tunnels and other related infrastructure would just be sitting there, unused and eating up dwindling Port Authority funding (it still costs money to maintain infrastructure, even if its not in use, especially tunnels that could collapse if not maintained). 

Finally, and here’s the biggest issue I have with this.  You want to blame an administration for the NSC?  Fine, blame the Bush Administration.*  That administration approved the project and funded it to the tune of $348 million (80% of the projected cost at the time of approval).  I could argue that had the Bush administration not agreed to award the money, then the project would not have to be bailed out because it was over budget due to inflation.  I could say that this is another example of the Obama administration having to “bailout” a decision made by the Bush administration.  If you want to look strictly at the numbers of how much each administration has spent on the NSC; the Bush administration spent a lot more on the project than the Obama administration has.  

I am not actually trying to make that statement, but it’s about as accurate as someone saying “look at the NSC, it's bad, it got bailed out by Obama's bailout, Obama’s bailout is bad.”  The point is, the project needed to get finished, and no matter who is in the oval office now, the money probably would have been spent to finish the project.  The funding also just happened to come from Stimulus funding.  If that would not have been available, it probably would have come from somewhere else.

Politics in this country is disgusting.  Nothing can be taken at face value, because nothing is ever presented at face value.  Every “fact” is tilted, twisted and wrung out until it matches an ideology. 

*Blaming the Bush Administration for DOT’s approval of the NSC is just as foolish as directly blaming the Obama Administration for the use of bailout money on the NSC.  I would wager that neither President had direct knowledge of the physical approval for either instance.