Category Archives: Transit Cuts

Never Fear, the Comet’s Here!

The P-G’s Rich Lord asks the question “Do influential connections raise your chances at repaved roads?” In so asking, he calls out Public Works Director Guy Costa, Councilman Dan Deasy, Councilman Len Bodack, Councilwoman Darlene Harris, ACDC member Leah Kirkland, and ACDC member John Shields.

Councilman “William” Peduto suggests bringing back the computerized Pavement Management System that we ditched in 1999.

The TRIB’s Jim Ritchie informs us of 267 layoffs at the Port Authority, which may be the first of many more, unless Harrisburg kicks it into gear:

“The Port Authority’s action is unfortunate and underscores the need for immediate legislative action on a long-term solution to our transit funding crisis,” said Rendell spokesman Charles Ardo.

Switching gears, TRIB science writer Allison M. Heinrichs tells us that the catfish of our three rivers are increasingly bereft of genitalia, likely due to birth-control and hormone-replacement drug pollution.

The P-G Editorial Board endorses incumbent County Councilwoman Brenda Frazer for her “quiet competence and dignified manner,” eschewing Matt Arena as a worrisome “old-style” Democrat. Libertarian candidate Mark Rauterkus will not be pleased to hear this primary election described as “decisive.”

And who can forget yesterday’s whopping endorsement of challenger Patrick Dowd in the city’s 7th Council District? The P-G describes its rejection of incumbent Len Bodack as a “no-brainer,” no doubt before adjourning for an evening of tofu, the opera, and rooting for the Ottowa Senators.

Editorial: Where Do We Go Now?

What impact will Bill Peduto’s withdrawal (pththb!) have on the blurghosphere at large?

No worries, mate.

If you keep score, well, I guess the burghosphere is oh-for-two. And it does … pause for a for a day or two, when things don’t go exactly as envisaged.

Call it “time to process.”

The one descriptive term we keep hearing in spades is evolution. We are evolving quickly. We are evolving in an interesting fashion. Those are good things. They are courtesy, no doubt, of the special blessings of Pittsburgh. Optimism remains the order of the day.

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Everything you read in the Comet post Capitulation 2007 is complete bunk.

We have come to some agreement that Bill Peduto (pththbt!) looked into the burghosphere (precocious east end knowledge worker that he is) and became aghast at what he saw.

He questioned his strategy, and perhaps his allies. He rebelled.

We have yet to see the new movie 300, but we have heard about it. We were doing that to Team Ravenstahl. Not just for being young, or even simple, but for outright sins, monstrous things, crimes of passion, crimes of violence, crimes of malice! Come on, now. What was anyone to make of this?

When Bill Peduto (pththb!) spoke of division, we feel he was speaking from the heart.

Cooling off. Yes. That would be nice.

“Give the kid a chance” has a lot of wisdom.

Or it’s fantastic political kungfu. Whatever.

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Reentry into the general election as an independant candidate that is, pulling a Caliguiri, or perhaps a Lieberman was ruled “in” as a possibility, at least until it gets before a judge. A great big hat tip to Jon Delano for that.

So to Bill Peduto … ahem.

If we may.

Don’t worry about us bloggers, Bill Peduto! Don’t sweat the small stuff! Don’t sweat this nonsense! We’re just bunch of crazy idiots! That’s us, jerk-ass Homer!

Only please rest assured that everybody in the city — and we really, truly mean everybody — hopes you “pull a Caliguiri“. Everybody.

Choice and debate are hard to come by, even in a democracy. You offered us that opportunity, Bill Peduto (pththb!), and then you snatched it back. We’re pretty sure you robbed it from Michael Lamb to begin with.

So run.

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To Luke Ravenstahl,

We have a great many “I Like Luke” stickers. We have them decorating our kitchen, our car, our computer.

We like Luke. We like Luke’s people, from what we’ve seen.

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The burghosphere will again break up and part ways, somewhat. The BURGH REPORT will likely tell us the score every day. The Admiral will be there to guide us in fey waters and through windy, windy winds. 2 Political Junkies will be blogging live from the Very Green Zone.

The Angry Drunk Bureaucrat will be all that, and so much more. Pittsblog will represent for the cupcakes. Matt H, for the O’Connors. Newbies will multiply. Smitty will tell ghost stories. PittGirl will keep us all freaking enthralled.

The Comet expects to stick around. We expect to return to a lot of historical preservation, a lot of race relations, a little macroeconomics and whatever.

We are entertained and bedazzled by this drama that is Pittsburgh, this city on the eternal, spectral brink. We have a very, very good feeling.

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Good news today!

The Oak Hill Development has settled amicably, and to every one’s apparent relief. (Rich Lord, P-G)

Some Port Authority transit cuts have been restored. (P-G by itself — Grata must be on vacation.)

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We hope to have some interviews up next week. Join us for the re-evolution, or whatever.

Look alive, Pittsburgh!

The Bus Stops Here

Allegheny County Council is holding a special committee meeting on transportation, today at 4:00 on the 4th floor of the City / County Building. Various and sundry individuals are gathering to give them hell over the proposed transit cuts.

If you cannot make it, watch the LIVE WEBCAST at this LINK.

“The Blogosphere – It’ll Go Away If We Ignore It”

… this from the sagacious Fred Honsberger, during his recent interview with Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.

Obviously, the Mayor is deeply frustrated over the staying power of Blurghosphgate; and that everyone insists on asking him about blogs and counter-blogs, instead of the finer points of his agenda and voting record; and especially that just as the mess was finally dying down, Councilman Motznik just had to dredge it all up again, keeping the whole sorry spectacle foremost in the minds of the voters, pause, not!

There was just barely time enough for Luke to tell the Honz that he’s optimistic about an arena deal, that he has assured Hill residents a seat at the table, and that he’d like to keep the buses running.

Dan Majors‘s headline in the P-G reads “Mayor Vows to Aid Transit Agency,” although whether “by the blood of his ancestors” or “by Earthshaker Posieden, Lord of these Three Rivers” remains unclear. All he’s suggesting is lobbying the state for funding (they can take care of that during the pensions convoy!) and tweaking the methodology behind the cuts. And suggesting a fare hike, presumably in exchange for maintaining service. It will be interesting to evaluate the credit / blame trade-off for wading into these waters, particularly now that there’s a vow to be reckoned with.

Meanwhile, the 4th Estate of Yinzer Government (The Burgh Report) seems to have gotten a little traction out of the dormancy of the Ethics Board. Dick Skrinjar says it will meet soon, even if it is not meeting anytime soon, and at least one mainstream journalist is taking up the cause. Yet until such a time as either of the mayoral candidates starts banging their fists on the table, it is not clear how any of this will matter.

Query to Pops and Burgher: How is your blog pronounced? I assume we are to say “The Burr Repor,” right? Because you are clearly engaging in satire, viciously mocking Bill Peduto and his advocates, and your real sympathies lie with the Ravenstahl administration, correct? Very sophisticated!

Today’s Idea: Support Public Transit

More revenue for public transit will always be preferable to less revenue, no matter what happens to service. And getting funding is always going to be a struggle, right? We’re practically begging already.

Why not market bus passes more aggressively to people who, frankly, don’t need them? Public transit can partner with public television and public radio a couple times a year, and work it like pledge drives.

Have P.J. Maloney, Chris Fenimore, and other pledgemeisters tout the community benefits of reliable mass transit, the joy of reading and relaxing during a commute, and the refined pleasure of meeting your neighbors along the way. Play the pride card, the guilt card, the repetition card. Include clips from local celebrities and athletes.

Government can’t do it alone. We need you, you who care so much about the strength and vibrancy of our community, we need your support of strong public transit. If you donate just $30 a month, we’ll thank you with your own 12-month bus pass — a full year service! For $50 bucks, we’ll let you go see Andre Rieu or some crap!

Best part: maybe some of those folks will actually use the bus, decide they like it, and keep their bloody automobiles in park!

Stop What You’re Doin’…

… ’cause Robert Firth is about to ruin, the image and the style that you’re used to.

The last page of the P-G’s Forum, called “The Next Page,” features a bold proposal for Port Authority Transit. It reorganizes the system into streamlined core routes, with short local circulators and a plush Downtown circulator. The authors claim not only that this would better serve riders, but will also save costs on a par with the draconian cuts we’re facing.

We at the Comet are not equipped to evaluate the fine points of the idea, but we find ourselves being persuaded. The staff of Informing Design, Inc., headed up by this Robert Firth, have put together an innovative comic-book style polemic that is neither condescending, irritating, nor easy to refute.

Their proposal is based on a system developed in Curitiba, Brazil, and has been adopted by Washington DC, Los Angeles, and Cleveland. We doubt that such awesome innovations would be welcome in Allegheny County. Besides, there might be start-up costs to consider.

But we strongly urge Mr. Firth and company to utilize this format for delivering pro-active, instead of re-active, policy suggestions; for contributing to thorny foreign-policy discussions; and for delivering endorsements in local political races.

“I Guess I’ll Have to Swim the River”

Christian Morrow of the Courier nails the heart and soul of the issue by leading his three-article coverage with this unfortunate grammatical disaster:

Though many people still believe that if the state comes to the rescue again, the Port Authority of Allegheny County will not go forward with its proposed service reductions, both County Chief Executive Dan Onorato and PAT Executive Director Steve Bland said there is no ‘crying wolf’ this time—the cuts, perhaps with minor variations, are coming anyway.

This flies in the face of long-established Comet suspicions. Recent P-G pieces by reporter David Guo and columnist Brian O’Neil on the elimination of 28X Airport Flyer service must, we thought, be read as a dead giveaway, designed to generate maximum public outrage.

Though such outlying cuts may seem a small dose of the bitter medicine needed to cure the authority’s ills, closer to the city, the suburb of Braddock is losing much more. Of the seven routes that currently serve riders in Braddock, four are to be eliminated.

Perhaps the 28X will be given back to the constituents as a show of accountability, while the mass of cuts, such as Braddock, will go forward.

“In conversations leading up to the press announcement, the legislators we talked to all said they were committed to dedicated funding—now they’re silent.” This last quote from Barbara Simpson, co-chair of the Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network transit task force.

Service Cuts or Project Cuts?

“It’s a huge response, and that’s no surprise, given what we’ve proposed to do,” PAT spokesman Bob Grove said. “We’re encouraging public feedback and want as many people as possible to comment.” (Joe Grata, P-G)

But shaking down the state for more support is still the furthest thing from our minds.

Well, go get ’em. Pre-register to speak at a public hearing by calling 412-566-5437, or submit written testimony hyah.

A completely separate Grata/P-G offering points up the problems of backing out of the Wabash Tunnel or the North Shore Connector in order to save money and maintain the status quo. We would still owe the federal government for money already spent, or for depreciation. We’d still owe the contractors for planning and design.

Onorato frequently cites the federal money we “receive” for these projects as a strong reason to carry them forward. The Comet wonders, in the absense of local demand for these improvements, how Pittsburgh came to be blessed with such largese. Did it begin as those notorious “earmarks”? Did our congressional pugilists Arlen Specter, Rick Santorum, or Melissa Joan Hart wrest these on our behalf? Was it the contractors themselves that got the ball rolling?

Transit Cuts

“I have no problem with what they are doing,” said Sewickley’s John Strahsmeier, who doesn’t ride Port Authority buses. “But why are they putting that hole under the river that will serve nobody in any manner?”

Quote courtesy of the Trib’s Jim Ritchie, in a decent wrap-up of What It’s All Likely to Mean. Although such incredulous voters will mean little to Onorato, as we recently noted, the sentiment may affect others: see state senator Jane Orie’s reintroduction of her bill to cap funding for the North Shore Connector Project in anticipation of cost overruns (KDKA).

We now place the controversial subway extension, in some murky, deeply hypothetical way, back on the table.

Meanwhile, a P-G editorial calls the gutting of PAT transit “as necessary as it is disturbing,” a position with which the Comet is not in accord, at least until someone makes a similar case against garbage collection, fire protection, or the Pennsylvania National Guard as not-sufficiently-profitable enterprises.

Morning Line: Not an Easy Day for Us

Transit Cuts: The Trib’s Jim Ritchie quite properly led his story with the fact that the Port Authority is intending to do less, for more money. And to answer your next question, Onorato insists he is not making these proposals to cause mass hysteria, hold bloody public hearings, and thereby shock the PA legislature into action. No, no, no, no, no.

Elsewhere in the Trib, with their trademark class, an editorial calls the transit budget a “cluster cluck,” and hails the cuts.

“People are talking about looking for jobs outside of Pittsburgh and no longer coming into Downtown Pittsburgh.” That pitch-perfect, pol-frightening quote from a certain New Kensington commuter Dennis Lewandowski kicks off Dan Major’s obligatory P-G reaction piece. The Wabash Tunnel and North Shore Connector projects are later questioned as expenditures perhaps better deserving of the axe than so many existing routes.

Meanwhile: Save our Transit needs friends now more than ever.

Wechtgate: George Hollis, former chief histologist of the Allegheny County coroner’s office, has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in the case against Dr. Cyril Wecht. Those prosecutors allege Mr. Hollis spent a “significant and substantial” amount of public time doing work for Dr. Wecht’s private firm. The P-G story by Paula Reed Ward made no mention of whether or not Attorney Stallings was simply motivated by resentment of Dr. Wecht’s massive intellect.

(Histology: The study of the structure, chemical composition and function of the tissue or tissue systems of plants and animals)

Save the Penguins: Oklahoma City, Las Vegas, Winnipeg, Hartford. These cities are cited by the Trib’s dynamic duo Andrew Conte & Rob Rossi, who alert us that the scary guy from the Kansas City sports desk is not our only nemesis. The timing of Lemieux’s visit to K.C. suggests he’s simply gaining leverage, yet a six-way bidding war would require a pretty spectacular Plan B+++.

Am I crazy, or did Mayor Ravenstahl sound kind of downbeat as he discussed this with Larry Richert on KDKA this morning? Note how he slud in that he originally endorsed the Isle of Capri plan. Not a forward-thinking comment.

Meanwhile, a P-G editorial ridiculously chides Bill Cowher for taking too long in mulling over his retirement, in an obvious fit of transference over their real frustration: Mario’s indecision. Which the P-G cannot savage for fear of sending the big guy over the brink.