|Contact:||Amie M. Downs, County|
PITTSBURGH – County Executive Rich Fitzgerald is in Harrisburg today meeting with leaders of the House and Senate as well as members of the county delegation about transit funding, following his call last week for negotiations to begin between the Port Authority of Allegheny County and its union, the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85.
"Everyone needs to come to the table and work together to address this issue and provide real solutions for transit. I’m committed to doing my part to make that happen and to move this discussion forward by working with the labor and management to find cost efficiencies, and to partner with the Allegheny County delegation in the House and Senate to address and advocate for legislative changes that could also impact the bottom line. There can be real change if everyone is at the same table working together."
Fitzgerald noted that the Port Authority is not the same, old agency that it has been in the past. Both management and the union have answered the call to come up with efficiencies and savings. Over 30% of administrative and management positions have been eliminated resulting in the Port Authority being the 4th lowest among 23 peer transit agencies nationwide, including Baltimore, Indianapolis and Cleveland. In dealing with legacy and pension costs, 16% of the current workforce and future hires, including those in two unions, have been converted from a defined benefit pension plan to a defined contribution pension plan.
“There is still much work to be done, but the Port Authority and its unions have taken significant steps to address rising costs. The County has also committed additional dollars to the operating expenses of the authority and riders are contributing more than they ever have,” said Fitzgerald. “The Allegheny County delegation in the State Senate and House recognizes those efforts and has supported efforts to find a dedicated stream of funding for transit. The challenge is to find additional revenues because we realize the broader impact of jobs and the slowing down of the economy this will have in our region. We have to get that message across to the rest of the General Assembly. ”
This past week, Fitzgerald joined State Rep. Dan Frankel and other members of the General Assembly in calling for legislation that would increase funding for transportation, including transit, as well as making legislative corrections to state law that would allow the Port Authority more flexibility in addressing their own financial situation. The legislation, House Bill 2112 (HB 2112), is in the House Transportation Committee. Similar legislation has also been introduced in the Senate to address transportation funding.
“This is not just about transit. Our region and, indeed, the entire Commonwealth has urgent transportation infrastructure needs. We contribute to our state expecting to see that investment return to us, but our roads are in dire need of repair and our bridges are crumbling,” Fitzgerald stated. “This is also about our economy. In a report issued this past week, the Pittsburgh region is one of the few areas in the nation that will have recovered all jobs lost during the recession by the end of the first quarter of 2012. A significant cut transit will undo all of that momentum and we will fail to benefit as we come out of this recession.”
# # #