The Port Authority Board is to vote today on a budget for the new fiscal year that starts July 1. But the spending plan has to account for a projected $50 million deficit that PAT CEO Steve Bland has warned will mean huge service cuts and fare hikes unless the state legislature comes through with additional funds. State lawmakers have been holding hearings across Pennsylvania to discuss different revenue sources to fund roads, bridges and mass transit. The state had been counting on tolling Interstate 80 but the federal government rejected that idea which left a $492 million transportation funding hole.
Jonathan Robison, president of the Allegheny County Transit Council--the independent, rider-based advisory panel, says PAT has been improving efficiency and trimming costs but that can only go so far.....
"Expecting PAT to solve the $50 million (deficit) administratively is like expecting a surgeon to do heart surgery with a meat ax."
Robison says unless the state comes up with funding there will be a 30% service cut which means virtually eliminating evening and weekend service and cutting back on other routes.
Robison believes the PAT Board today will approve a "conditionally balanced budget" which anticipates additional state monies but unless there is legislative action by "August or maybe, September the board will have to start implementing the 30% service cuts and that would be an unmitigated disaster."