Where are there gaps in public transit coverage? Voice your opinion to the Port Authority

Voice your opinion to the Port Authority

by Rob Taylor Jr.
Courier Staff Writer

The New Pittsburgh Courier has learned that the Port Authority of Allegheny County is putting together its 25-year long-range plan…but wants input from you, the public.

The Port Authority is dubbing the long-range plan NEXTransit, and the organization is holding its four remaining public online meetings of the summer on Aug. 6 and Aug. 25 to hear where you believe gaps are in its transit coverage.

The first two meetings were held on July 27.

The meetings on Aug. 6 will take place at 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., and on Aug. 25 at 12:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.

The meetings begin with a 25-minute video presentation on the authority’s long-term plans, followed by Q&A sessions with the public.

“Now more than ever, it is important to look at all of our various factors impacting ridership in our community and build a consensus plan to get us into the future,” voiced Katharine Kelleman, Port Authority CEO, in the prepared video that the Courier observed during the July 27 meeting.

“Despite a national trend of declining transit ridership in most major cities, ridership in Pittsburgh has remained steady prior to start of this pandemic,” said Justin Miller, a team leader for the authority on the agency’s long-term plans, in the prepared video. “Strong demand for transit in Allegheny County has placed consistent pressure on Port Authority to expand our transit system. Reliable transit service is essential to the continued economic vitality of our region, yet funding is limited. We plan so that we can anticipate scenarios, respond to changes and allocate funding smartly and in an informed way.”

During the prepared video, authority members discussed the meaning of a “transit gap,” which is “an area where there is a need or demand for public transit, but public transit does not currently operate.”

While the agency wants to improve its infrastructure, for example, in its light rail and bus rapid transit lines, the Port Authority knows that if people are left out of access to public transportation, the improved infrastructure is moot—especially to those being left out.

The organization Pittsburghers for Public Transit, which is not affiliated with the Port Authority, recently led the way in sending an open letter to state Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey, urging them to champion a $32 billion COVID-19 relief package for state transit agencies. The letter was backed by 62 community organizations.

Even without the pandemic, however, as Miller noted, getting the adequate funding for public transportation for Allegheny County has become quite the challenge.

That’s why your voice is needed—it’s about catering to the needs of the people, the residents, the transit riders, the authority said, while working within the proper allotted funds.

To register for the upcoming meetings and voice your opinions on where the lack of transit coverage exists, visit nextransit.network/events.

For more information on Port Authority, call 412-566-5500.

Katharine Kelleman, Port Authority CEO.

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