PITTSBURGH – Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Port Authority CEO Steve Bland held a press conference today to announce steps being taken to address light rail issues for the immediate future, as well as the short term and long term.
“The failure of the light rail system to provide adequate service this past weekend is inexcusable and cannot happen again. When I began hearing the complaints and issues related to the system, I called on the Port Authority and Local 85 leadership to find a solution and to find ways to improve the reliability of the system,” said Fitzgerald. “This is not about sports fans, concert goers, or marathoners. It’s about transit riders and protecting transit service. We have been actively working on the funding issues related to our buses and ACCESS so that we can turn to the question of efficiencies and service, but the light rail system is a fixed asset that can be addressed now – and should be.”
The Port Authority announced that it will be operating two-car trains on all light rail routes this weekend, doubling the normal capacity on the system. Additionally, extra trains will run between the North Shore and Station Square on Friday evening, Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon. Internally, a number of structural changes, including personnel changes, have been made to improve overall quality control for service. Finally, the Authority will begin working on plans to address other major weekend events that will be occurring in the coming months.
“First and foremost, I extend a very sincere apology to our riders for the delays and service issues we experienced over the weekend. We deeply regret the inconvenience our riders experienced, but are gratified by the overwhelming success of the connector,” said Bland. “By working cooperatively with Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 85 leaders, we have been able to assure that there are a sufficient number of operators and trains in service this weekend and will continue to work together to make improvements to our light rail system and our overall transportation system.”
Both Fitzgerald and Bland emphasized that the reliability of the transit system is equally as important as the funding piece. The Authority, its union, the county and the Governor’s office remain in negotiations to find savings and efficiencies to prevent the scheduled service cuts in September.
Although not in attendance, ATU officials Pat McMahon and Steve Palonis and their union members were integrally involved in the efforts to address the issue with light rail and lauded the cooperative effort to find solutions.
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