Monday, February 9, 2009

Controller: More Reform Needed at PAT

Allegheny County Controller Mark Flaherty says The Port Authority of Allegheny County has a long way to go as it tries to right its financial house. The Controller issued a performance review today comparing PAT to other transit agencies. Flaherty says a statistical comparison to eleven of the most comparable transit agencies found the Port Authority considerably underperforms in operations based on “performance metrics.” And he says that gap is getting “progressively wider.” The controller says the Board of Directors and Management of the Port Authority need to adopt a "cut waste and inefficiency first, cut service last" philosophy. He does admit that since the audit was conducted, “the Port Authority has embarked upon various strategies for improvement.” Among the changes noted by Flaherty is an effort to cut top-level salaries, eliminate management positions, reduce management benefits and adjust service to more efficient levels in striving to control costs and enhance service. A new contract was also signed with mechanics and drivers. The audit went on to point out a need to replace the current fare box system with one based on smart cards. The Authority has also been investigating such a system. Heading in another direction, Flaherty says the Authority needs to address its unfunded retirement costs. He says the authority should drop its "pay as you go" approach. Finally, Flaherty analyzed the Authority's operations regarding the maintenance of its vehicles, operational expenses and bidding procedures. He says the work order system used by PAT is “obsolete.” He says. "It is critical that the Port Authority upgrade the current computerized maintenance work order system to maximize efficiency and ensure that its vehicles are being properly maintained and inspected."

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