Statement before                  Glenn A. Walsh

     Port Authority of                         P.O. Box 1041

    Allegheny County:                        Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041 U.S.A.

      Rate Hikes and                           Telephone: 412-561-7876

        Service Cuts                             Electronic Mail: < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >

          Proposal                                 Internet Web Site: < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

                                                                                2004 November 4

 

Good evening. I am Glenn A. Walsh of 633 Royce Avenue, Mount Lebanon. I have been an advocate of public transportation for more than 25 years. I was a charter member of the Allegheny County Transit Council, serving from 1984-1989. Today, I am representing no formal organization.

 

As many of you know, I have followed Port Authority issues closely for more than 25 years. There is no doubt in my mind that the Port Authority’s claim that the Commonwealth has under-funded public transit agencies in this state are true. Without a willingness, by the General Assembly, to contribute the needed resources to public transit service, there will be a huge adverse impact on many people in Pennsylvania, particularly low-income and disabled people who are often completely dependent on public transit. Further, without State help, economic development in the state will greatly suffer as Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and many other cities in the Commonwealth will be severely impacted by a much lower quality and quantity of public transportation.

 

So, I do fully understand the Port Authority’s plight. However, it is times like today that make it difficult to understand the Port Authority’s financial problems. Look around—look where we are!

 

For this public hearing, Port Authority management has chosen to rent the ballroom in one this city’s premiere hotels. And, PAT is having financial problems? If so, why are we here?

 

I am sure the County would have let the Port Authority use the Gold Room for nothing. And, if that was not large enough PAT could have rented a high school auditorium, which would have been much cheaper, and the School District needs the money!

 

When the Port Authority management wastes money on a hotel for a public hearing, or proposes to waste $2 million of taxpayers’ money by the complete abandonment of a never-used rail car storage yard at Penn Station, it is difficult to take PAT’s pleas of poverty seriously!

 

Had the Port Authority held this public hearing in the Gold Room, or a high school auditorium, then there would have been no need to reduce the speaker’s time limit from 5 minutes to 3 minutes. The Port Authority could have afforded to have two days of public hearings—to ensure that everyone who wanted to testify would be heard, for 5 minutes each, by the PAT Board members and management in open session—not just by a legal stenographer, as was arranged for some public testimony at last year’s public hearing.

 

When you restrict the number of speakers able to speak in open session, and restrict their time limit to speak, you are basically telling the public that this public hearing is simply a legal formality, and the Port Authority is really not interested in hearing from the public. If the Port Authority is not interested in hearing from the public, why should the public, and their representatives in State government, be interested in PAT’s financial problems?

 

Port Authority definitely has financial problems which can only be solved by the Governor and General Assembly. However, the attitude of PAT management has to change, to be more open to public input at both public hearings and monthly Board meetings—AND to stop wasting taxpayers’ money on hotel rentals and the proposed abandonment of a never-used rail car storage yard at Penn Station.

 

Thank you.

 

gaw