Thursday, January 19, 2012

Zen and the art of riding the 54C

Since I can't avoid the topic I will just repost an old transit map I have below.  A longer transit post isn't in me honestly.  Since the Port Authority cut so many suburban routes a few years ago, they lost any hope of maintaining even passive support by the median voter and thus lost the battle for political support for any other path than the one we are clearly on.
Still, it is all just sad.  As a disclaimer in one of the first posts here I pointed out that my 2nd spoken word was in fact 'bus'.. likely trying to hail a 54C.  Now where are we? In the fall campaign I did try to introduce a simple question that still needs to be answered.  Will there be public transit in Allegheny County eight years from now?  Still needs to be answered.. strike that, it still needs to be asked. 

So the map.  Part of the news on the announced route cuts is that they include virtually all 'express' routes.  So the map below isn't from all that long ago.  Note the Port Authority used to have more 'express' routes than they will routes in total once this round of cuts is over with.

And if you have read this far then you probably want to go check out one of the more amazing side streets of the long tail intertubes:

First image above from and found via  or the other way around.


Anonymous Alex B. said...

I passed through Oakland today at lunchtime. Parking spaces galore. School is in right? Could it be that the higher parking fees is forcing students to the bus ?

Any data out there? Decrease in parking hours - increase in bus passengers?

Thursday, January 19, 2012 12:20:00 AM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

The Pittsburgh Parking Authority is a font of real time data on their operations.

but once again demand elasticity rears its head. Also what is the impact on revenue from tickets would be a question.

Thursday, January 19, 2012 8:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sad, I agree, in an emotional, almost physically painful way. Like losing Forbes Field, the Syria Mosque and the Civic Arena at the same time. Probably this is how old timers felt when the trolleys went away, but this time there's noting to replace the buses.

I'm getting emails saying, "We have to fight this thing", but as you note, politically, it seems like it's game over.

Thursday, January 19, 2012 9:01:00 AM  
Blogger Aunt Mimi said...

Are continued cuts the end result of ignoring the fact that we continue to live beyond our means? Is there a more vile phrase than "legacy costs" in our language? We all react from an emotional place that causes less than good decisions with long-term benefits. Evidence of that is the library funding vote; many now agree that we should have made operating cost cuts and consolidated locations, then worked on maintaining accesibility for all. I admit that each time a school had to close I crossed my fingers it was not one that affected me, but still knew that even if a closing impacted my family I had to accept it for the common good. I gotta go now and look into having a bake sale to support public transit so that my kid can get to school for two more years.

Thursday, January 19, 2012 10:38:00 AM  
Anonymous BrianTH said...

I don't think it is game over at all.

Last fall the state legislature wanted to act on the Transportation Funding Advisory Commission's recommendations. Corbett blocked action then, but now he is supposedly coming out with a transportation plan by February 7 when he delivers his budget. His proposal may fall far short of ideal, but the state legislature may have its own ideas.

Of course it is important to understand that it isn't just PAT on the chopping block--it is state-funded transportation services and projects everywhere. That's why the state legislature was willing to act, and why I don't think we should give up yet--we have lots of natural allies out there.

Thursday, January 19, 2012 11:33:00 AM  
Anonymous BrianTH said...

By the way, I might as well take on Chris's argument directly.

The median voter in Allegheny County, let alone the Pittsburgh Metro, was never riding a PAT bus. The argument to the median voter in Allegheny County always had to be that they indirectly benefited from public transit.

And I don't actually think all this is happening because that argument is no longer working with the median voter in Allegheny County. Rather, what happened is that Corbett succeeded in selling himself as a pro-Western-PA guy while hiding exactly how radically anti-transit he was committing himself to being. In other words, the median voter in Allegheny County didn't put Corbett into office because they actually wanted a radically anti-transit shift in state transportation policy, but rather because they didn't know that is what they were voting for.

Unfortunately, we are stuck with those electoral results until at least 2015, and it remains unclear exactly how Corbett will govern in practice now that he has to navigate between his campaign promises and reality. But again, I don't think we should just surrender this year without a fight, because I don't think it is true we have lost the County or the state, despite the results of the 2010 election.

Thursday, January 19, 2012 11:54:00 AM  
Anonymous MH said...

The argument to the median voter in Allegheny County always had to be that they indirectly benefited from public transit.

I agree. Somebody should run an ad pointing out that you can either keep the 61c running at a useful level or you can have me getting on the Parkway East in front of all the suburanites. For one me, that isn't a problem, but in large numbers that is a great deal more time sitting in the tunnel.

...while hiding exactly how radically anti-transit he was committing himself to being.

Compared to the last governor's commitment to ensure a stream of funding that stopped before he could drive out of Harrisburg?

Thursday, January 19, 2012 1:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with you Aunt Mimi--the library tax was rammed through by library/foundation leadership and elected officials who didn't want to make tough decisions and exercise proper management of a public service.

And following on Brian TH, if the legislative options are so viable, then is PAT just trying to scare the crap out of the public (again)? They wouldn't do that, would they?

Thursday, January 19, 2012 2:22:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

the library tax was rammed through...

One public body manages to make itself popular with the actual people-public and the machine part of the "public" can't see anything but an attack on themselves.

It may have been unwise, but compared to any other local government activity, it was not "rammed through."

Thursday, January 19, 2012 2:42:00 PM  
Anonymous BrianTH said...


Well, yes. All this started when the I-80 toll plan was disallowed by the feds. Rendell called a special session of the legislature and tried to get them to pass an alternative funding mechanism for transportation. He failed, but at least he tried. And now that the funding crisis has reached the point that the legislature is ready to act, I am quite sure Rendell would not have shut them down like Corbett did.

Of course in the end, none of that really matters now. Rendell isn't governor, Corbett is, and even if Rendell was just as bad on these issues that wouldn't somehow make it OK for Corbett to be that way.


We know there is bipartisan support in the legislature to act on the TFAC's recommendations, but we also know the Republicans in the legislature won't act if Corbett is opposed. So PAT's attempts to raise a public outcry--assuming that is what they are doing, because they do in fact have to have a service plan in place if their funding doesn't change--would remain relevant to the extent they helped put political pressure on Corbett.

Thursday, January 19, 2012 3:03:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

All this started when the I-80 toll plan was disallowed by the feds.

The I-80 toll plan was never going to be allowed by the feds, this was obvious to anybody who has read a newspaper, and was nothing but state-level blame avoidance.

Thursday, January 19, 2012 3:05:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

Anyway, my point on bring in Rendell is that if a Democrat with labor support won't work toward secure funding system, there's no point in calling somebody with the same effective policy could be called "radically anti-transit."

Thursday, January 19, 2012 3:17:00 PM  
Anonymous BrianTH said...


I agree the I-80 toll being disallowed was foreseeable, and I have no problem with blaming all the relevant officials for including that toll in the original funding plan.

But I just don't get the implied claim that Rendell wouldn't "work toward a secure funding system." The fact is that in the summer of 2010, he did call a special session of the legislature, and he did make proposals for funding transportation. He also pressed for action in the media, and so forth.

Taking a step back, as Corbett's own commission (the TFAC) documented thoroughly in its final report, the basic problem is that the state's funding mechanisms for transportation have been declining in real terms, while the costs of operating, maintaining, and upgrading the transportation system have of course not been declining in real terms.

Rendell was willing to propose various measures to increase revenues to help close that every-growing funding gap. To date, Corbett, in line with his campaign promises, has been unwilling to support any such measures, including those proposed by his own commission (again, the TFAC), and Corbett's opposition to such measures is what shut down the bipartisan efforts to adopt the TFAC's recommendations.

There is simply no way you can truthfully claim those are the same policy positions. They are directly opposite positions on the key policy issue.

Generally, and I don't mean to single you out, but I really don't understand this common practice of defending the person currently in charge by claiming, falsely or even truthfully, that he is no worse than the last guy. That is simply no defense, and indeed if it were actually true that Rendell had opposed raising more revenues to close the transportation funding gap, I'd have no problem saying he was just as bad on these issues as Corbett. It just happens that is simply not true.

Thursday, January 19, 2012 3:52:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

Generally, and I don't mean to single you out, but I really don't understand this common practice of defending the person currently in charge by claiming, falsely or even truthfully, that he is no worse than the last guy.

That annoys me also. But, lately I've been even more annoyed by officials claiming to have supported something when they've merely tried to spend borrowed money and push payment down to the next guy.

However, in this case I see that you are right and I was wrong. Rendell did try to secure other funding sources after the I-80 thing. I'd forgotten that and shouldn't have missed something that shows up even with a cursory google.

Thursday, January 19, 2012 4:26:00 PM  
Anonymous BrianTH said...

In the spirit of reconciliation, I will fully agree that Rendell was a master of the art of kicking the can down the road. Generally, there aren't many true heroes among our elected officials during the past couple decades of inadequate attempts to dedicate funding for transportation.

Thursday, January 19, 2012 4:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Transit Guru is doing some amazing work on this.

Check out the old route maps:

Just as far back as 2003, routes went to almost every suburb. I know the ACE like to say it took "fifty years to get here" but the tipping point wasnt THAT long ago.

Thursday, January 19, 2012 5:30:00 PM  

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