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Three news stories on Ticket to Ride Day, October 5.

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  • Chris Robinson
    Here are three news stories re Ticket to Ride Day, which took place on Tuesday, October 5, 2004. 1. Concerned Commuters Take Ticket to Ride to Capital Oct 5,
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 6, 2004
      Here are three news stories re Ticket to Ride Day, which took place on
      Tuesday, October 5, 2004.
      Concerned Commuters Take "Ticket to Ride" to Capital

      Oct 5, 2004 10:24 am US/Eastern
      Pittsburgh (KDKA) With the Port Authority warning that massive service cuts
      and fare hikes will lie on the road ahead without help from the state, some
      concerned commuters are headed to Harrisburg today to push for more funding.

      Riders who rely on public transit are headed to the state capital for a
      "Ticket to Ride" rally today geared to pressure the state legislature into
      providing more money for the Port Authority.

      Members of the group "Save our Transit" are pushing for the passage of
      Senate Bill 1162 and its companion House Bill 2679, which would provide
      increased dedicated and reliable funding for public transit.

      Supporters say the state funding is needed now more than ever.

      Last month, Port Authority officials proposed the most deepest cuts in its

      Chief Executive Officer Paul Skoutelas told KD Investigator Marty Griffin
      that without help from the legislature, the Port Authority will be forced to
      raise fares by nearly $1 and cut its service by up to half -- eliminating
      routes on weekends, holidays and after 9pm on weeknights.

      Port Authority Riders Lobby For Funding

      POSTED: 5:35 pm EDT October 5, 2004
      UPDATED: 6:17 pm EDT October 5, 2004

      PITTSBURGH -- Public transit riders worried about potential service cuts and
      fare hikes boarded a bus for Harrisburg Tuesday, trying to prevent the most
      drastic changes in the Port Authority of Allegheny County's 40-year history.


      Share Your Thoughts About Public Transit Funding
      "We want the legislators to quit lollygagging and get to work," Stephen
      Donahue, of the lobbyist group Save Our Transit, told Channel 4 Action News
      reporter Emily Ryan. "Stop arguing about how much money they're going to
      make off slot machines and fund public transit."
      State lawmakers are considering a proposal to use a portion of the state
      sales tax for public transit. If approved, it would give the Port Authority
      about $64 million a year, correcting the agency's growing $30 million

      "We are down to less than two months between now and the end of November,
      when the legislative session concludes that something has to happen, and
      we're working very hard toward that goal," Port Authority CEO Paul Skoutelas

      If the money is not approved, Skoutelas says the Port Authority will
      consider raising its base fare to at least $2 and eliminating weeknight and
      weekend service. Those changes were threatened last year, but postponed when
      PennDOT redirected $10 million toward public transit.

      "The last couple of years, we've had a Band-Aid put on the problem," said
      Tim Vining, of Save Our Transit. "Right now, the wound is too big for a

      Concerned riders have made the Harrisburg trip at least once a year for the
      past three years.

      "We've been watching for years," Donahue said. "Bills introduced, assigned
      to the Transportation Committee, and there they die. We're tired of this."
      Copyright 2004 by ThePittsburghChannel. All rights reserved. This material
      may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

      Is the Port Authority crying wolf with its worst-case scenarios?
      By Gwen Arbuckle
      Wednesday, October 6, 2004

      Presenting the worst-case scenario might literally pay off for local
      government and public officials.

      Doom-and-gloom predictions rile the public into lobbying Harrisburg
      legislators to play into government and authority hands, sometimes resulting
      in cash being passed down to fill the gaps, experts said. A recent
      announcement from Port Authority of Allegheny County leaders suggests that
      base fares could go up by 25 cents or higher, and services could be cut.
      Authority spokesman Bob Grove said the announcement and resulting public
      hearings are required by law.

      "We have to have a public hearing anytime a significant change is proposed.
      We have to be prepared for the worst," Grove said.

      Hearings have a dual purpose experts said. They satisfy law while generating
      a buzz among constituents.

      The last time the authority send down such a statement was in May 2003. The
      agency was facing a $20 million deficit. They planned to close the deficit
      by reducing services and raising fares to $2.

      The cuts didn't come to pass. Port Authority officials came up with $5
      million through layoffs, staff reductions and slicing marketing, travel and
      training budgets. Another $5 million in state funds was restored.
      Then-county Chief Executive Jim Roddey lobbied in Harrisburg to have $10
      million diverted to the agency's coffers.

      Riders mobilized, politicians jumped to attention, and the rest is history.

      However, drawing attention to a cause doesn't mean an agency is crying wolf,
      according to Carnegie Mellon University Robert P. Strauss, professor of
      economics and public policy. Whining a little is all part of the budget
      process, Strauss said.

      "Inter-governmental relations of any sort are kind of like a parent-family
      relationship where the beneficiaries always cry need, plead and say they
      aren't able to hold their head high because they don't have something," he

      Roddey, former Allegheny County chief executive, was Port Authority board
      chairman from 1984-87. He is a member of a board overseeing the city's
      finances. Roddey said that agencies such as the Port Authority are obligated
      to present the worst-case scenario -- and hope for the best.

      "If they didn't get anything, the public and media would be critical for
      them not telling people allowing them time to plan for the changes," Roddey
      said. "If the Port Authority explains that if they don't get more (funding)
      from the state and that motivates a group of people to call their
      legislators, write letters to their representatives, I think that's a
      legitimate use of public announcement."

      Gwen Arbuckle can be reached at garbuckle@... or (412) 320-7844.

      Images and text copyright © 2004 by The Tribune-Review Publishing Co.
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