Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Transit Workers Oppose "Stringing Out" Flex Funds

The leader of the local transit workers union says the Port Authority of Allegheny County should spend the emergency state funding it received this December over a 12-month period, rather than over 18 months.

President Pat McMahon of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85 wrote to County Executive Dan Onorato saying the funding should be used as Governor Ed Rendell intended. McMahon says that means the $45 million in “flex” funding would cover only the Port Authority’s 2011 budget deficit in order to prevent service cuts.

McMahon says spending the money in 2011 would also keep pressure on the state legislature to come up with a permanent funding solution for both PAT and SEPTA, Philadelphia’s ailing bus service.

The union president says under Onorato’s plan to spend the money over 18 months, the Port Authority will make cuts.

“Their plan is to have a 15% service-hour cut, effective date in March, the 27th actually,” says McMahon. “There would definitely be some layoffs. They don’t know the numbers yet. And their plan absolutely includes closing the Harmar division.”

McMahon says these transit cuts would kill jobs for people who depend on bus and rail services, particularly low-wage workers. McMahon says he hasn’t heard back from Onorato yet.

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