I was posed a question via email the other day (one that has been broached often while meeting people) regarding the state of the PAT bus system and the inane way it is being run. In this email I was asked what I would do to fix the problem of the bus service. Unfortunately, unlike my other ideas, this one is not so easily remedied. First of all, PAT is run by the county and not the city so my options for how to directly improve it must be implemented by the county. Secondly, I doubt that the people in charge of PAT, cushy in their jobs and driving to work everyday, even realize what the problem is. I wonder if they even know if there is a problem. The fact that Port Authority is losing money isn't the problem...its the symptom. The problem is the mismanagement by the administration and the backward thinking "solutions" that they come up with have robbed a vital resource from the people, not only of Pittsburgh, but of the whole county. Maybe, instead of cutting routes AND raising fares, they should cut their bloated salaries and raise the condition of the buses.
In any private sector company (as most of us understand) if you don't do your job well you will be fired. Simply put, the administration, who has turned a blind eye to the troubles of the Public Transit system and have offered no salient solutions, must be held accountable. If they can't fix it the problem then the county should find someone who can. The status quo will no longer work for many problems in the city and the county and its time that someone smashed the notion that it will.
This is all fine and good but the question is, "what can Tony Oliva, as mayor of Pittsburgh, do to help the find a solution". To that I simply say that the City of Pittsburgh is the financial workhorse of the county and as such should have a voice in matters that directly involve her. As Mayor, I would make that voice be heard. Cutting out vital routes is not an option, especially when the fares are rising. People need to get to work without spending extra hours on a bus trying to piecemeal a course from point A to point B. Small business owners shouldn't lose customers because they are deemed "not important enough" to have a bus line come near.
This is an important issue and I wish I had a panacea to make it all better but you won't get any false promises from me. The best I can offer is that I will make our voice heard. And if that means some out of touch fat cat bureaucrats in PAT (rhyme unintended) get their walking papers then so be it...the voters have been forced to walk long enough, I hope they can appreciate the poetic justice. It is time that those who have forgotten who they work for listen.