Port Authority's BUSted budget

Written by Jon Schmitz on .

Port Authority board member Guy Mattola's remarks today on the agency's financial crisis:

Now, I'd like to take a few minutes to address the financial situation this board faces today.

Port Authority is the region's 25th largest employer. We are the nation's 21st largest transit system.

Most people forget why Port Authority is here in the first place: It's because more than 30 public transportation companies that tried to serve this region before us failed.

Port Authority was created by the state to pick up the failures of those private companies and protect transit service in this community.

We can't do that without the state's help.

The state's transportation shortfall today makes it impossible to operate adequate transit service.

And, this isn't a bailout.

We're simply asking the state to enact a law that sustains a reliable funding source. Nothing more, nothing less.

We're not sitting on a windfall from Act 44 or from Allegheny County.

Act 44 simply changed how the state provided transit funding – not how much it paid.

Our share from the state actually decreased by 1.9 percent in the year after Act 44. And since, it has increased annually by an average ¼ percent.

Likewise, the county's taxes did not provide a significant increase.

These streams of money do not provide Port Authority with extra money. They simply sustain our funding levels.

What's so frustrating about the actions we're considering is that we've made so much progress in recent years.

We've accepted the responsibility of finding ways to improve this agency.

No other transit agency in Pennsylvania has made the reforms that we have.

o We cut $52 million in annual labor expenses.

o We generated $14 million more in annual revenue.

o We froze salaries.

o We are revamping our bus and T service, top-to-bottom, for the first time in 50 years.

But now, the state law designed to support this progress has fallen short.

We need our state legislators to finish the job they started with Act 44.

Unfortunately, today, we are obligated to adopt a balanced budget. The impact this will have on service in our region is drastic and possibly irreparable.

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