Thursday, February 3, 2011

From a Sept. 2008 email: Privatization is coming

I came across this email I sent to someone on ACTC on September 18, 2008. With trivial modifications, I share it with the world, as it contains several still salient points.

Re: Mustio/Turzai on transit costs

How to pronounce Mark Mustio's name: Like "musty odor" without the final "der" sound. Weird, but it works.

Mike Turzai, who's my State Rep, represents Bradford Woods, but the district includes McCandless. In fact, his office is in McCandless, barely a mile from my house. It's right next door to Northland Library, an easy walk from an 11C ride (assuming you can GET to an 11C, which takes an 11D or 500 ride during the day), or a LONG walk from a 12A, about a mile and a quarter along Cumberland Road, headed west from McKnight. Hillvue Lane is the road going up into the back entrance of Northland, a block south of Cumberland. CCAC North is another quarter mile south on Perry Highway.

The two of them are cooking up a plan to de-monopolize transit in Allegheny County. As you described it, you're right, routes like the 51C, the EBA, the 61C, probably the 13A, would be kept, since ridership is high. Cross towns and lesser routes simply won't be kept, which will strand a bunch of people. Routes like the 6C do OK in ridership, but don't pack the buses, and so do not make much money. 11C the same. It's been cut way back since I moved out here.

What these guys don't realize is that, unlike what they're saying, Port Authority's spending is NOT out of control. Well, let me clarify that. What costs they CAN control are NOT out of control. Costs they CANNOT control ARE out of control: Fuel. Health care. Past commitments to future pension contributions. Those concepts do not make for good headlines, but they are reality. Those headlines especially do not sell to the Trib's/KQV's fan base.

Of course, what I've been saying (and saying and saying and getting tired of saying but I gotta keep saying it) is two things. First, that if you can get 50,000 warm bodies to buy fare and ride the system every day, who are not doing that now, the spending deficits go away. Of course some costs will have to go up as a result of putting more buses out there to meet demand, but that will actually make the system easier to use since transfers will be shorter and headways will decrease, each of which in turn will cause more people to want to use the system. The system grows itself. This is all accomplished by making the system easier to figure out how to use.

Which brings me to the second point. This is done by spending money on software and technology. That money is not being spent now, anywhere near as much as it needs to be, and what was spent years ago is being wasted because there isn't anyone available to administer that technology because they've all been laid off. Web site improvements, for instance. Delays in getting new fareboxes in place. We've had GPS on the buses for eight years but still cannot track where the buses are, because that part of the package was not purchased (it was off-the-shelf stuff in 1999) and there's nobody in the I.T. department who can implement it even if we had it now. If we had that piece, you could check on your cell phone to see if the bus you're trying to catch has already passed you or not. All of that is 1997 technology, and we're NOWHERE near getting it, because all we want to do is cut the system. Chopping it into pieces will make it all that much more difficult to implement even if we do get the money and the manpower.

Short version of the above rant: Trash the Mustio/Turzai idea.


No comments:

Post a Comment