Rebuttal to Letter --
From Paul P. Skoutelas, Chief Executive Officer,
Port Authority of
2004 May 18
Paul P. Skoutelas, Chief Executive Officer of the Port Authority of Allegheny County mailed a letter to Glenn A. Walsh, on 2004 May 18, in response to Mr. Walsh’s public statement, delivered before the Port Authority Board of Directors on 2004 April 23. Following the April 23 statement, PAT Board Chairman John A. Brooks had told Mr. Walsh that the PAT Board would discuss the details of the statement at the May Board of Directors meeting.
This did not happen. Mr. Skoutelas’ letter was the only response received regarding the details of the statement.
The following rebuttal, to eight points
in Mr. Skoutelas’ letter, would have been delivered before the Port
Authority Board. However, due to a loophole in the
Public Statement - 2004 April 23:
Rebuttal to Points One through Eight in May 18 Letter:
1) Letter: “The
Rebuttal: When one builds a $2 million rail car storage yard, which cost as much, if not more than, the light rail passenger station, one must concede that there were two major reasons for building the rail line to Penn Station: (1) passenger connections between light rail trains and buses; (2) mid-day storage of light rail cars.
Of course, in addition to people having easy connections between light rail trains and buses at the light rail station at Penn Station, this also allowed easy connections for people transferring from light rail trains and East Busway buses to Amtrak trains, Greyhound buses, other bus carriers which serve the suburban counties, and the possible future commuter rail service into Penn Station [such as the proposed Allegheny Valley commuter rail line].
P.S. The “
Of course, the “Penn Station” name is used in
In the case of the Port Authority, they have used both the “
2) Letter: “Despite
initial all day shuttle service, the demand for service to
Rebuttal: As this shuttle was always a free service, as it operated completely within the free zone, PAT had little incentive to market or promote this service. Hence, very little promotion for this run was provided. A lot of people did not know then, and to this day do not know, that there is a light rail station at Penn Station [which still has two roundtrips during the afternoon rush hours on weekdays].
Despite these problems, there was some use of this shuttle.
In fact, my own sister, who lived in Dormont at the time, used the shuttle to
connect to the
3) Letter: “Diverting
every fourth or fifth inbound train to
fourth or fifth car would still serve light rail stations at
By far, during the rush hours,
Therefore, this fourth or fifth train would bypass only two
Downtown stations. The vast majority of trains entering the city would still serve
“Vehicles returning from Downtown Pittsburgh to the
Rebuttal: That is a function of being a rapid transit line in a corridor where a lot of people use public transit. However, the number of passengers riding contra-flow of the rush hour flow is minimal. Without this additional service, there would still be plenty of service for these riders to use. Savings of electricity, over the last twenty years, would not be minimal. Such savings could help the Port Authority avoid future rate increases or service cuts.
5) Letter: “The
turn back movement from
Rebuttal: You state this as fact, yet the test of such a system has never been made. The designers of the rail yard would have known that this would not be an easy movement. However, they went ahead and spent the $2 million to build the rail yard anyway; obviously, they thought this track movement could be accomplished without major disruptions. And, since this system has never been tested, you have no evidence to say they were wrong.
“Security of the light rail vehicles in the
Rebuttal: Of course all necessary security measures would have to be taken. I am sure that the designers of the rail yard knew this, and they expected that the Port Authority would do so without major problems. However, the proximity of the PAT Police Station is valuable to the security of this rail yard. And, the third floor of the PAT Police Station does have a lookout-tower [remember, this was formerly a lookout-tower for the Pennsylvania Railroad’s large rail yard] that juts-out from the structure, which allows the police to directly watch the rail yard.
7) Letter: “It is simply not possible to leave the existing Penn Park Line in place as the new Convention Center Line is built due to physical space limitations and grade changes.”
Rebuttal: It is
not possible simply because your planners have planned the new subway line in
such a way to ensure that the Penn
Station rail line is cut-off, so you can eliminate a $2 million embarrassment
that you chose not to use. Penn
8) Letter: “Port
Authority returned no funds to the federal government due to the termination of
Rebuttal: When PAT decided to terminate the PATrain to the Monongahela Valley, PAT Executive Director Bill Millar told the PAT Board of Directors that this would require the partial reimbursement, to the Federal Government, of funds used to build the new passenger rail stations in the Mon Valley and purchase rehabilitated rail passenger coaches, as these rail stations and rehabilitated coaches were only a few years old. If PAT did not reimburse funds to the Federal Government, I suspect it was due to intervention by the Western Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation, at that time.
The PATrain had financial problems, which were not helped by a PAT management that had no interest in the service, and made certain decisions that made the PATrain operation look worse than it had to be.
Almost exactly ten years prior to the termination of the
PATrain, I had made a proposal at a PAT public hearing in
Such a rerouting would have attracted new ridership to the PATrain, which would have improved the commuter line’s financial performance. However, PAT did not want to improve the PATrain’s financial performance, since that would mean that PAT would have to keep operating the PATrain. So, PAT killed the PATrain just before such a rerouting could take place [and, such a rerouting would have had to take place within two or three years of the 1989 termination of the PATrain, as the Baltimore and Ohio rail property was about to be sold].
2005 August 25