Some critics of the recently passed federal transportation bill say it is too heavily skewed to motor vehicles and provides insufficient aid for transit (not to mention significantly cutting bicycle and pedestrian safety funding).
One provision of the bill speaks volumes: Congress refused to restore parity to a tax break that allows commuters to pay parking and transit expenses with pretax dollars. On Jan. 1, the amount of parking expenses covered by the tax break rose by $10, from $230 to $240 per month; the transit amount fell from the previous $230 to $125, as "parity" language in the federal stimulus law expired.
There was a push to restore parity in the MAP-21 measure (Moving Ahead For Progress in the 21st Century) that passed over the weekend: in other words, transit riders could pay up to $240 a month in pretax dollars, just like those who pay to park. The conference committee that assembled the final bill decided parity wasn't needed.
After all, why create an incentive for people to take transit? We don't have any problems with traffic congestion, pollution, dependence on foreign oil or 32,000 people per year wiped out in crashes.
The failure to restore parity will impact Zone 2 riders on Port Authority buses and the T, who now pay $146.25 for a monthly pass with the fare increases that took effect Sunday.
On to the road work:
More ramp closures are scheduled Downtown this weekend. This time it will be the off-ramps from the inbound Fort Pitt Bridge to Commonwealth Place, Liberty Avenue and the Boulevard of the Allies, and the ramp from Commonwealth Place to the outbound Fort Pitt Bridge, from midnight Friday to 5 a.m. Monday, for resurfacing.
Starting at 9 p.m. Thursday, traffic on Greentree Road at the Route 50 intersection in Heidelberg will be reduced to a single lane in both directions so crews can continue work on the bridge over Chartiers Creek and remove a median. That will create two left-turn lanes from Greentree Road onto Route 50, a nice and necessary improvement. The single-lane traffic pattern will continue around the clock through July 31 and will cause significant delays.
@pgtraffic on Twitter