Statement before                             Glenn A. Walsh

Allegheny County                           P.O. Box 1041

Council:                                              Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041 U.S.A.

Local Funding for           Telephone: 412-561-7876

Public Transit Service    Electronic Mail: < >

In Allegheny County       Internet Web Site: < >

                                                                        2007 October 2


Good evening. I am Glenn A. Walsh of 633 Royce Avenue, Mt. Lebanon, a regular Light Rail and bus rider who has chosen not to drive a motor vehicle since 1985, to help save energy, protect the environment, and reduce city traffic congestion.


I support County Executive Dan Onorato’s proposal to move local funding for public transit away from the property tax, as public transit needs a local funding vehicle that grows with the needs of public transit service. At this point in time, the Pennsylvania General Assembly has approved only two alternatives: a “poured-drink” tax and a rental-car tax. I do support passage of Council bills 3375-07 and 3379-07 which would enact such levies.


Without the passage of these new levies, I am quite concerned regarding the future of public transit service in Allegheny County. Port Authority Transit (PAT) has already slashed service once this year and threatens to do so again if it cannot access the additional funding offered by the General Assembly.


 Although I live relatively close to the Light Rail Transit line, which likely will continue operating regardless of any further major cuts, there are thousands of County residents who are not so fortunate. Many county residents have already been inconvenienced by the first round of transit cuts. Any further cuts could be a severe hardship on many more county residents and very possibly isolate neighborhoods.


Now, I understand that you expect PAT to reduce the cost and increase the efficiency of local transit service, and rightly so. PAT management has taken several steps, over the last few months, to implement such changes. And, I would agree that further efficiencies are necessary. However, without adversely affecting transit service and, hence, severely impacting many county residents, further efficiencies may not be possible until July, following implementation of a new labor agreement.


I urge you not to completely withhold additional local transit funding until additional transit service efficiencies can be implemented. If you believe that you can not enact these two bills, in their present form at this time, then I ask that you provide PAT with stop-gap funding, to ensure more drastic service cuts are not necessary before July.


If, after consultation with PAT officials, it is determined a temporary tax is necessary to maintain present transit service levels until July, then I suggest that you enact a temporary tax that sunsets in July. Then, in July, you can reevaluate the need for the proposed transit levies, based on the additional transit service efficiencies implemented in the new labor agreement.


I ask that you be sensitive to the needs of the many residents of Allegheny County who rely on public transit for travel to employment, shopping, worship, and medical appointments.


Thank you.