Saturday, July 28, 2007

Transit service cutbacks canceled

Pennsylvania is famous for this. Pennsylvania does not create new jobs. Rather, Pennsylvania creates new taxes.
Transit service cutbacks canceled The state has granted County Chief Executive Dan Onorato the authority to introduce a tax on alcoholic drinks of up to 10 percent and up to a $2-a-day tax on car rentals. Mr. Onorato would like to shift the burden of subsidizing Port Authority away from property taxes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Glenn Walsh wrote:

Yesterday, the Port Authority of Allegheny County
(PAT) Board of Directors officially rescinded the
additional 10 percent service cuts that had been
scheduled to take effect on September 2. This was due
to a 10-year plan to finance state transportation
improvements, including additional funding for the
state's public transit systems, that was approved by
the Pennsylvania General Assembly and signed into law
by Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell at PAT's Wood
Street Subway Station on July 18. The bill will
provide PAT with an additional $55 million for the new
fiscal year, as well as additional funds for
Philadelphia's Southeastern Pennsylvania
Transportation Authority (SEPTA) and transit agencies
in smaller cities across the state.

PAT still plans to increase transit fares on January
1, although the specifics of the fare increase are not
finalized. SEPTA increased transit fares this month.

However, while the transit funding crisis seemed to be
resolved, there are several issues which could torpedo
this solution to the funding crisis:

* Congressmen from Utah and Virginia have submitted
Federal legislation to prohibit additional taxes on
rental cars; the Pennsylvania General Assembly had
passed enabling legislation which would allow
Allegheny County to levy a $2 tax on rental cars to
help provide the local matching funds needed to match
the additional State transit dollars (to prevent
increasing local property taxes).

* Two central Pennsylvania congressmen have inserted a
provision in a Federal transportation funding bill to
prevent the tolling of "The Keystone Shortway," better
known as Interstate 80. Tolling of that interstate
highway, along with increased tolls on the existing
Pennsylvania Turnpike in 2009, were planned to be
used to pay-off bonds that would be used to fund
transportation improvements throughout the State,
including the increased transit funding.

* Restaurants and taverns in Allegheny County are
fighting a 10 percent Allegheny County poured-drink
tax (a similar tax was instituted in Philadelphia in
1994), which, along with the car rental tax, were
enabled by the Pennsylvania General Assembly for providing the local transit matching funds in Allegheny County. Allegheny County Council has to approve the car rental tax, poured-drink tax, or both;
a fierce fight is predicted, in County Council, over these potential new taxes.

In other PAT news, the Allegheny County Controller recently completed a study indicating that PAT still needs to cut costs, particularly labor costs, which the study says is out-of-line with the costs of transit agencies in comparable cities.

And, yesterday, it was officially announced that long-time PAT head engineer Henry Nutbrown will take an early retirement at the end of August rather than face a layoff. The potential layoff could have resulted after the engineering division was folded-into the operations division, as part of an
ongoing agency restructuring. Currently, Mr. Nutbrown oversees construction of the subway extension under the Allegheny River to the North Side, known as the "North Shore Connector."

Here are recent news articles regarding these issues:

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