Transit bill passes Senate: opportunity for Equity component being bypassed

A Sensei’s Journey

It’s headed to the state House, but may lack for one easy amendment:

If the bill becomes law, there would be five appointees from the state — one from the governor and one each by Democratic and Republican caucuses in the House and Senate — and six from the county: four appointments would come from the county executive and two would come from county council members of the opposite party of the executive.

Two of the county executive’s four appointments would need to come from a list of potential appointees developed by disability groups, the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission. (P-G, Kate Giammarise)

As far as the board structure, I’m fine with it. Maybe even a little impressed.
As far as the funding for a study of systems consolidation and privatization, I’m personally also fine with it. It’s only a study, and we eat studies for breakfast.
What concerns me is the part about the “groups.” The constituents of the Allegheny Conference don’t have particular trouble being heard in any corridors of power as it is, and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (due to its own board structure) tends to lean conservative and Republican as well.
If this legislation recognizes that those with disability issues have a special stake in good public transit and deserve a seat at the table, why no other conspicuous populations, such as low- and moderate-income communities or Black communities? With all the recent talk of food deserts, and the degree to which Pittsburgh is capable of generating talk about “equity” and “two Pittsburghs” when it wants to, one would think that seeking to bolster the interests of geographically segregated and poor minority communities when it comes to public transit would be a no-brainer.
Pittsburgh has more than a couple of State Reps in a position to raise that point. And if doing so messes with the separate transportation funding bill, that would solely be the fault of the people insisting on holding transportation funding hostage to their every wish. When we wait for it to be “the right time to talk about equity,” we end up waiting our whole lives.

10 thoughts on “Transit bill passes Senate: opportunity for Equity component being bypassed

  1. ken

    What about representation from the largest group that uses transit, City residents, the Mayor should be able to appoint two representatives as well, take two from the state allotment.

  2. Bram Reichbaum

    “Take two from state allotment” ain't gonna happen. The state balance is the state balance. We could take from the County Exec, or we can work with the County Exec. (City representation would be an alarming issue in case of an R-exec, but then again vacancies don't all happen at once, these are staggered.)

  3. Anonymous

    Your concern about underserved populations assumes that the county exec wont make appointments representative of those populations. Given his history on appointments, that's a valid concern.

  4. Bram Reichbaum

    Your assumption misses my presumption that formal inclusion in the process will bring a more robust and methodical dialogue to the table in any event, and better candidates for the board, but I'm interested to hear evidence for / against that smear argued out.

  5. BrianTH

    Without being a major source of funds, I think about the most the City could hope for would be inclusion among the groups that come up with the appointments lists the ACE must choose two people from.

  6. BrianTH

    True. Fortunately, as I see the current proposal, if we can't get a legitimately pro-transit majority on the Board it is because the ACE at the time isn't pro-transit, which would mean the Board would be screwed under the current system anyway.

  7. Anonymous

    Please allow me:

    Port Authority Board: ok, we've looked at this top to bottom, and after long and frequent deliberation, WE NEED MORE MONEY FROM THE STATE.

    State: BWAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Right on that!

  8. Bram Reichbaum

    I'm sorry – was it something in what I wrote that would result in demanding more money from the state, or was it something in a comment? This seems like a non-sequitor. This seems like a non-sequitor, what are you satirizing?


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