Tuesday, January 3, 2017

UPMC-induced traffic, and a modest proposal for funding transit

As one of the area's largest employers, UPMC is also one of the area's largest generators of traffic. In employees alone, over 50,000 people travel to jobs daily. In people traveling to receive medical and related services, I do not have figures readily available, but an easy assumption is to triple that figure. Some use transit, but tens of thousands drive.

It is not unreasonable to think that 200,000 of the cars on Pittsburgh roads on any given day are related in some way to UPMC business. If someone has better numbers, let's see them.

Being able to provide the capacity for those employees and customers to choose to or are required to drive is a large part of the overhead of state, county, city, and municipal road departments. At the same time, Port Authority has a hard time making ends meet, and its mid-day service, when people need to travel to appointments, is often the thinnest in places where service remains at all, following major cuts in 1993, 2002, 2007 and 2011.Nearly everyone working evening or night shifts needs to drive, since evening service is minimal, and 24-hour service ended almost 20 years ago.

If UPMC sees fit to pay the salaries of its people to pay the $10,000 per year per car cost of providing their own, private transportation fleets, it seems reasonable to ask it to pay $1,000 apiece for those 50,000 people, to help fund the transit system fully. A solid, stable income would allow Port Authority to put in place the Transit Development Plan devised in 2009, at the service level that, at the time, we decided we needed. It never did get done, because the last of the TDP service changes took place in the same March 2011 service pick that cut 15% of the routes.

Port Authority's funding issues always stem from Harrisburg not wanting to pick up the nearly 70% of local operating costs. Getting fifty million from UPMC, along with comparable amounts from other big players, would do just that. Continuing the thought, if all these health plans from UPMC included a complimentary annual bus pass, that would help assure that anyone covered under the plan would be able to travel to an appointment without the hassle of driving, or the cost of parking.

UPMC spends millions on advertising and promotion. If that money was instead put into transit fare, then the plans would sell themselves, and we would have a more sustainable funding source to run the transit system we already decided we are supposed to have.

1 comment:

  1. It is not unreasonable to think that 200,000 of the cars on Pittsburgh roads on any given day are related in some way to UPMC business.