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News From The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission

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Special Issue: Transit And Transit-Oriented Communities

BCTA Award

Beaver County Transit Authority Receives Top Honors from APTA
Sources: BCTA and APTA

Fast Forward:  beaver County Transit AuthorityThe American Public Transportation Association (APTA) has selected the Beaver County Transit Authority as the recipient of their 2006 Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award. This award honors a public transportation system that has demonstrated achievement in efficiency and effectiveness. Awards winners are judged in the areas of safety, operations, customer service, financial management, attendance and employee costs, minority and women advancement, marketing, policy and administration, and community relations.

"On behalf of the Board, management, staff, and employees of the Beaver County Transit Authority, I am proud to announce our selection to be the 2006 recipient of the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award," said Mary Jo Morandini, BCTA General Manager.

"While quantitative measures of the Beaver Country Transit Authority’s performance clearly demonstrate the Agency’s accomplishment in fulfilling its mission to serve the citizens of Beaver County, these measures tell just part of the story," Morandini said. "In fact, although BCTA was created in 1980, it celebrated its third anniversary in May 2006. This is not a misprint! Virtually overnight, BCTA transformed itself, seamlessly, from a 20-person administrative Agency to a self-operating organization of almost 100 employees. During the entire period of this transformation, BCTA didn’t miss a beat: it continued to be true to its commitment to deliver efficient and effective transportation services, fully aligned with its culture of high ethical conduct and employee satisfaction."

Morandini explained that as a mobility manager, a significant player in economic development, a recognized contributor to quality of life, and a respected partner in regional transportation, BCTA’s performance over these last three challenging years further attests the value of its long-standing commitment to disciplined strategic and business planning and to continuous improvement. "While lesser organizations might have been overwhelmed by the challenges of transforming itself, BCTA kept its focus on its customers, not only continuing its distinguished level of performance, but demonstrating its robustness by achieving new records," she said.

To learn more about the Beaver County Transit Authority, please visit www.bcta.com. For more information about APTA, please visit www.apta.com.

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Get To Know . . . Stephen Bland, Port Authority CEO
Source: Port Authority of Allegheny County

Stephen BlandThe Port Authority Board of Directors has selected Stephen G. Bland, a New York transit executive with strong ties to Pennsylvania, as its next Chief Executive Officer.

Pending formal approval of a five-year contract by the Board on May 26, Mr. Bland will succeed Dennis Veraldi effective Monday, June 12, 2006.

Mr. Bland, 44, has been executive director of the Capital District Transportation Authority in Albany, N.Y. for the past four years and previously served eight years as executive director of rabbittransit in York, Pa. A 21-year transit professional, he also has served as chairman of the Pennsylvania Public Transportation Association Board of Directors and is currently president of the New York Public Transit Association.

Mr. Bland’s extensive background in public transit also includes three years as general manager at rabbittransit; four years as manager of operations planning at Central New York RTA in Syracuse, New York; one year as general manager at Cape Ann Transportation Authority in Gloucester, Massachusetts; and one year as vehicle maintenance system coordinator at Dallas Area Rapid Transit in Dallas, Texas.

"The selection of Stephen Bland as our new chief executive officer culminates an exhaustive nationwide search for a person with a wide range of proven transit experience and the leadership skills necessary to enable Port Authority to meet the many challenges before it," said John A. Brooks, chairman of the Port Authority Board of Directors. "Mr. Bland has outstanding credentials, a thorough understanding of the funding challenges faced by public transportation agencies in Pennsylvania and a track record of improving ridership and maintenance."

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A Regional Strategic Vision For Public Transportation Serving Southwestern Pennsylvania

A Regional Strategic Vision for Public Transportation Serving Southwestern Pennsylvania, sponsored by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC) and the region’s public transportation operators, was released May 19, 2006 at this year’s Southwestern Pennsylvania Smart-Growth Conference.

Introduction

As it becomes increasingly important to consider the cost of fuel in all aspects of transportation and the economy, it is increasingly important to consider how our region’s public investments can be made more efficient. This Vision sets forth how public transportation relates to our regional development and it suggests investments to match our aspirations of a better-connected region that develops more efficiently and conserves our rich heritage of communities.

The Regional Strategic Vision for Public Transportation Serving Southwestern Pennsylvania sets forth a long range vision for creating a comprehensive regional public transportation system that is responsive to this diverse region, a Transit Vision that is closely linked to existing and future land uses. The Transit Vision is the result of an intense planning process involving hundreds of citizens as well as business persons, government officials, community leaders, and transportation agencies.

The following statement was identified as a goal for the Regional Strategic Transit Visioning effort:

To preserve existing transportation and land use investment while making future investment decisions that enhance the quality of life and the economic viability of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

The Fundamental Questions

The Transit Vision Study was undertaken to address the following fundamental questions:

  1. What is our vision for public transportation in our region?
  2. How can we realize that vision?

The Transit Vision Study posed these questions to residents, elected officials, community and business leaders, transportation agencies, developers, employers and employees throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania.

The ideas and suggestions from participants helped to shape the Transit Vision report, which is an ambitious and bold vision for public transportation in Southwestern Pennsylvania. The Transit Vision is the beginning, not the end, of a public policy discussion of how the region will develop and how public transportation can best serve the region’s future.

Developing A Bold Vision Of Public Transit

The process of developing this bold and ambitious Transit Vision can be summarized in the following steps:

  1. Reflecting on Our Assets
  2. Imagining the Possibilities
  3. The Transit Vision
  4. Making the Most of Our Assets
  5. Focusing on Our Future: Next Steps and Immediate Challenges

1. Reflecting on Our Assets

Our region’s variety of communities and neighborhoods are among our greatest strengths. These diverse communities offer an endless variety of cherished and authentic places, each with a history of its own. Unlike many regions of the country whose sense of identity has been eroded by explosive growth, our region has retained a rich diversity of communities with unique personalities and strongly defined identities.

Many of our communities already have public transportation services provided by one of the region’s ten transit operators. The next step of the visioning process was to imagine how to make the most of these services and how to do more with what we already have.

2. Imagining the Possibilities

The Transit Vision Study was undertaken to explore how we can build on our existing assets while creating more sustainable development patterns and infrastructure investments. With public participation as one of the Study’s fundamental elements, the visioning process was undertaken in three phases.

In Phase I, Understanding, base data was collected and mapped; technical meetings with transportation and planning agencies were held; and citizen focus groups and public meetings were held throughout the ten counties.

In Phase II, Exploring, public transportation alternatives and corresponding land use scenarios were developed and analyzed. The region’s ten transit operators were surveyed regarding potential transit services, financing and organization.

Phase III, Vision Development, featured the development of a draft report based on input which identified suggested locations, modes, financing and implementation of future investments in public transportation. The core functions of public transportation were articulated:

  • To connect people to jobs
  • To connect people to major regional activity centers, such as downtown Pittsburgh, Oakland and the Airport
  • To connect people to local activity centers within each county

Phase III also identified two alternative development patterns, the “Trend” Scenario and the “Focused Growth” Scenario. Transit scenarios to accomplish the core functions of public transportation were then developed for both the Trend and Focused Growth Scenarios. These scenarios illustrate how land use/development patterns and types of transit service are generally linked.

Trend Scenario
The Trend Scenario assumes that recent land use and development trends will continue. These land use trends depict the nature of the individual places or “building blocks” that comprise that development pattern that is our regional “form”. The land use building blocks addressed in the Transit Vision include urban neighborhoods; suburban neighborhoods; downtowns, regional centers and town centers; villages; districts; and open space.

Today’s regional form, depicted below, shows that our region is made up of complex settlement patterns amidst an equally complex landscape pattern.

Today's Regional Form

In the Trend Scenario (pictured below), it is assumed that most new growth would occur on the edges of already-developed areas. This scenario estimates the development of an additional 169,000 acres of land by 2025, or 3.7% of the total land area in the region. It is also estimated to lead to $5.8 billion in new non-infrastructure costs (water and sewer, etc.).

The Trend Scenario

Focused Growth Scenario
The Focused Growth Scenario (pictured below) assumes land use policies that feature more infill development and higher density housing, mixed-use and transit-oriented development, and walkable communities. Most growth would occur in areas where the infrastructure capacity already exists, and would be balanced between new growth in suburban areas and infill development in the denser urban areas. This growth scenario estimates the development of only 29,000 additional acres of land by 2025, or 0.6% of the total land area in the region. It is also estimated to lead to $200 million in new non-infrastructure costs.

The Focused Growth Scenario

Scenario Evaluation
Both the Trend Scenario and the Focused Growth Scenario were evaluated quantitatively (acreage preserved, transit travel times, transit ridership, miles of rapid transit, and infrastructure costs) and qualitatively (land use/development, community design, mobility, investment, environment, community coordination and transit service quality).

Results: Trend Scenario
The development pattern assumed in the Trend Scenario is more dispersed; therefore in general, the only cost-effective additional fixed guideway facilities would be in existing high-density corridors, for example, Oakland to downtown Pittsburgh, and short extensions to existing light rail transit and busways. The best transit investments would be in park-and-ride facilities and enhancements to the existing bus system, including more transit centers and express bus service. Under the Trend Scenario, the average daily ridership on transit for 2025 will have increased by about 20%, from 262,000 daily trips to 317,000 daily trips.

Results: Focused Growth Scenario
In contrast, the development pattern assumed in the Focused Growth Scenario can support connections among all the counties in the region with regularly scheduled fixed-route bus service; provides rapid transit service to 40,000 more households without auto access; provides for faster commuting times to major regional destinations, such as downtown Pittsburgh, Oakland and the Airport; and meets the goals and aspirations derived from the public participation process.

Under the Focused Growth Scenario, the average daily transit ridership for 2025 would increase by about 57%, from 262,000 daily trips to 408,000 daily trips. This would be in addition to any increased transit usage attributable to increased cost of fuel and related costs of maintaining automobile commuting such as cost of parking or tolls. While the total trips in the region are projected at over 6 million daily, the increase in transit trips due to more focused growth will take nearly an additional 100,000 cars off the roads during peak congestion hours. These reductions in automobile travel result in better air quality and reduced congestion.

3. The Transit Vision

The Focused Growth Scenario was selected as the proposed land use framework for developing the Transit Vision.

The Focused Growth Transit Vision
The region will be connected with a high quality, well balanced, fiscally responsible public transportation system.

Transit Vision Map

The Transit Vision contains two primary elements: rapid transit facilities and other supporting services and facilities.

Light Rail Transit (LRT)Rapid Transit Services and Facilities
Light Rail Transit (LRT).The Transit Vision includes over 40 miles of new LRT (known locally as the T) lines connecting to residential, economic, recreation and job activity centers and providing convenient multimodal access to other public transit facilities and transit service.

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). The Transit Vision identifies several BRT facilities, busways (bus-only roadways), and bus lanes and preferential treatment for buses on arterial highways to serve high-volume corridors within the region.

Commuter Rail ServiceCommuter Rail Service. The Transit Vision suggests four commuter rail lines that would add approximately 52 miles of rail service between downtown Pittsburgh and outlying communities.  

 

Other Supporting Services and Facilities
BusExpanded Regional Bus System. The Transit Vision contains over 50 new suburban local and cross-jurisdictional bus routes.

 

 

Circulator Transit Systems. Within the region’s mixed-use centers, the Transit Vision includes circulator bus systems connecting residential areas with commercial areas, as well as providing connections to the regional bus system.

Intermodal Facility On Pittsburgh's South SideIntermodal Facilities and Customer Amenities. The Transit Vision contains over 160 transit-related facilities ranging from major intermodal facilities (e.g., park-and-ride lots) to primary customer facilities (e.g., information kiosks, ticketing/service centers).

It is recognized that other rapid transit modes will be considered in the future when specific corridors in the region are studied. The list of facilities and modes in the Transit Vision is not intended to recommend a specific mode or alignment for each corridor. Rather, it is intended to identify corridors and locations where investments in rapid transit facilities may be appropriate.

4. Making the Most of Our Assets

One focus of implementing the Transit Vision is its integration with other initiatives and opportunities in the region. Two such opportunities incorporated into the Transit Vision are the re-use of railroad corridors and water transportation.

Transit Management Structure Analysis
The Transit Vision Study examined several national examples of regional operations and presented three approaches that could be considered for Southwestern Pennsylvania. The first is a continuation of the current structure—several independent transit operators working cooperatively to serve the region’s transit needs.

Image Of Current Fixed Route Transit Service Areas; For More Information, Contact Rich Feder at rfeder@portauthority.org

The second is a regional authority, wherein one agency would operate or manage and consolidated public transit system across the region. The third is a regional Joint Powers Board, Intergovernmental Agreement or similar entity that would operate cross-regional service for the region’s transit operators.

The transit management structure analysis suggested that SPC’s Transit Operators Committee (TOC), whose membership represents all ten transit operators in Southwestern Pennsylvania, could serve as a Joint Powers Board or Intergovernmental Cooperation Agreement for cross-jurisdictional services that may be established in the region.

5. Focusing on Our Future: Next Steps and Immediate Challenges

Conceptual Finance Plan
The Transit Vision is estimated to cost approximately $9.5 billion to implement. Investment of this magnitude would have to be implemented over an extended period of time. SPC’s fiscally constrained 2030 Long Range Transportation and Development Plan (2030 Plan) outlines $2.8 billion that could be made available for transit capital projects over the next 24 years.  While additional funding above the $2.8 billion might be possible, it is unlikely that every facility identified in the Transit Vision could be implemented in that timeframe.

The current capital budgets estimated in the 2030 Regional Plan total approximately $2.8 billion, and are generally funded using the following percentages:

- 3.3% local
- 16.7% state
- 80% federal

Current Capital
Current Capital Funding Shares

As such, the $9.5 billion program is presented as a menu of projects that could be considered for implementation as funding becomes available and as corridors with appropriate land uses potential are identified. If the federal government makes adequate funding available at the national level for transit expansion over time, an estimated $5.7 billion of the cost could be the federal share. Costs for major projects are updated as the Plan is updated, and costs of construction and operations would be expected to follow trends in the general economy. In any case, prioritization of projects through the region’s planning process will be important to make progress on any of the projects.

A potential funding scenario:

$9.5 Billion

- $600 million in local match
-$2.3 billion in state funds
- $5.9 billion in federal funds
- $700 million in flexed highway funds

Vision Capital
Vision Capital Finance Concept

In addition to capital costs, implementing the Transit Vision would require an average annual operating and maintenance cost of approximately $410 million, or about 39% more than the current $294 million. This would include operating the existing transit service and increased service in accordance with increased ridership, plus the new facilities identified in the Transit Vision. 

The current operating and maintenance budgets total approximately $294 million annually:

- $29 million in local funds
- $185 million in state funds
- $74 million in farebox revenues
- $6 million in flexed highway/private funds

Current Operating
Current Operating/Maintenance Budgets


A potential funding scenario:

$410 Million Annually

- 41 million in local funds
- $258 million in state funds
- $103 million in farebox revenues
- $8 million in flexed highway/private funds

Vision Operating
Vision Operating/Maintenance Finance Concept

NOTE: All figures are 2002 dollars

A Toolbox For Tranit-Oriented Communities In Southwestern Pennsylvania

Based on extensive community input and research, the Transit Vision proposes a mixture of transit services and amenities to connect residents to recreation, educational and employment centers throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania. As a result of demographic and lifestyle changes occurring in the region and in many other areas of the country, there is renewed interest in compact, walkable communities that can be readily served by public transportation.

Implementation of the Transit Vision depends largely on the development of transit-oriented communities.  Transit-oriented communities are places with a wide range of development activities designed to encourage the use of public transportation through the enhancement and creation of suitably dense areas as markets for transit service.

Transit-Oriented Communities are:

  • Transit-Oriented CommunityWalkable: pedestrian friendly streets and sites make it easy to walk from one place to another
  • Mixed use: a variety of daily needs are located within proximity to each other
  • Appropriately dense: as compact centers integrated with transit, they create a critical mass able to support retail needs and transit
  • Pedestrian scaled: design of buildings, streets and blocks are based on the scale of an individual, not automobiles
  • Multimodal: provisions for bicycles, pedestrians, transit and automobiles will increase access and connectivity
  • Transit-Oriented CommunityCoordinated: the uses within one community complement the uses in another community
  • Diverse: a variety of housing options allows a community to accommodate all its residents throughout their various life stages
  • Encouraging of transit use: developments within communities are designed to facilitate access to existing or future transit service
Eastside Development Under Construction In East Liberty
Eastside Development Under Construction In East Liberty

Transit-friendly design is not a new idea in Southwestern Pennsylvania. In fact, many concepts for transit-oriented design mirror characteristics already found in numerous neighborhoods and communities throughout the region that developed around transit routes and railroad stations in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Furthermore, these concepts have been re-applied in many new developments in the region.

Density Matters
Density affects transit service. Transit researchers have developed general guidelines for transit-supportive densities, which include a residential density of at least 7 units per acre to support bus services at a frequency of 25-30 minutes (lower density can support infrequent bus service and park-and-ride service). At about 10 to 15 units per acre, transit service every 10 minutes becomes possible. This frequency of service is achievable in a transit-oriented community since community design decisions are responsive to density and a variety of spaces—two necessities for a coordinated transit system. By working together, a strong transit market can be created and a variety of travel alternatives provide a diverse and high quality of life for residents.

A Toolbox for Transit-Oriented Communities in Southwestern Pennsylvania is intended to be a resource for communities to participate in the Transit Vision—communities that want to realize the benefits of public transportation and facilitate economic development. The toolbox describes the advantages of integrating transit and land use decisions and illustrates how such investments can be leveraged and achieved in a community. This toolbox, along with sustainable, adequate base funding, and innovative new approaches to funding transit projects will be necessary to move the Vision forward.

Copies of A Toolbox for Transit-Oriented Communities in Southwestern Pennsylvania and related educational materials – essential tools for municipalities, community groups and developers – are available on the following Web sites: www.portauthority.org and www.spcregion.org.

Special TOC Toolbox Training For Local Governments!

July 14, 2006
What: Becoming a Transit Oriented Community: A Toolbox (Transit Vision Implementation Training)
When: Friday, July 14, 2006 9:00 AM — 3:30 PM (8:30 registration)
Where: Mt. Lebanon Municipal Building, 710 Washington Road Pittsburgh, PA 15228 (directions)
Sponsor: Local Government Academy & Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission
Program Fee: $50 per person. Fee includes handouts, lunch, and certificate of attendance. Communities declared distressed under PA Act 47 or in the Early Intervention Program may attend for $10. Members of the NEOC Alumni Association receive a $10 discount.
Methods of Registration:
Online: www.localgovernmentacademy.org
Phone: (412) 237 - 3171
Fax: Download this PDF, fill out, and fax to (412) 237 - 3139
Mail: Send registration form (download here, PDF format) with check by July 11, 2006 to Local Government Academy, 800 Allegheny Avenue - Suite 402, Pittsburgh, PA 15233 - 1895
Questions? Contact Beth Bishop at bbishop@localgovernmentacademy.org, or by calling 412-237-3171. Class size is limited, so register early.

The Transit Vision has been led by Port Authority and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC) in cooperation with The Heinz Endowments, the public transit agencies within the 10-county region, City of Pittsburgh, Steel Industry Heritage Corporation and Port of Pittsburgh Commission. Major funding for the study was provided through a grant from The Heinz Endowments, with matching funds from the region’s public transit operators. Additional funding was also provided by the local branch of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties. Consulting services were provided by DMJM Harris, Urban Design Associates, Planning Innovations, Inc., Manuel Padron & Associates, Mizerak Bowers, AECOM Consulting, and BRW URS.

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TOC Profile: Atlantic Station
Sources: Atlantic Station and Atlanta Development Authority

Atlantic Station  
 
Atlantic Station DrawingThe Atlantic Station community is a 138-acre environmental redevelopment and reclamation of the former Atlantic Steel Mill in Midtown Atlanta. The redevelopment will make maximum use of alternative transportation modes to minimize congestion, improve air quality, and connect major activity centers while also creating a 24-hour environment where one can live, work, and play.

Once complete, the community is projected to include 15 million square feet of retail, office, residential and hotel space as well as 11 acres of public parks. To support mass transit use and decrease single occupancy vehicle travel, the Atlantic Station neighborhood operates a clean-fueled, rubber-tired transit shuttle system that will circulate between the Arts Center MARTA station and the Atlantic Station community matching the existing MARTA schedule.

Atlantic Station PhotoIn order to transform this former steel mill site into a livable, mixed-use development, significant environmental reclamation was necessary. In 1997, Jacoby Development, Inc. (JDI) initiated plans to redevelop the 100-year-old Atlantic Steel Mill—creating the largest urban brownfield redevelopment in the U.S. The property is already a national model for smart growth and new urbanism. A joint venture between AIG Global Real Estate Investment Corp. and Atlanta-based JDI, the Atlantic Station community represents $2 billion in new construction.

Atlantic Station Tax Allocation District

The Atlantic Station Tax Allocation District was established in 1999 to facilitate the redevelopment of a 138-acre brownfield site, which had been contaminated due to almost a century of heavy industrial use.

Atlantic Station will lay the framework for a more pedestrian and transit-oriented city. This project will transform east/west links into more efficient, aesthetically pleasing transportation corridors and create a financing vehicle for a mass transit link between the Arts Center MARTA Station and points beyond. The TAD will also facilitate the redevelopment of area corridors, including the new 17th Street Bridge, and improve infrastructure throughout the redevelopment district.

For more information, please visit www.atlanticstation.com or www.atlantada.com.

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Transit News From Pennsylvania

LANCASTER

RRTA raising fares Monday to pay for higher fuel costs
Source: The Lancaster Intelligencer Journal

April 26, 2006 - Commuters who rely on Lancaster County's public transit system will pay higher fares beginning Monday. Red Rose Transit Authority is raising its fares by about 7 percent on monthly passes and nearly 6 percent on 10-trip tickets and daily cash fares.

RRTA executive director David Kilmer said the increasing cost of diesel fuel is the "main driver" behind the increases, but a 17 percent jump in RRTA's health care costs in 2006 also is a factor.

The base bus fare, which covers about a 3-mile radius from downtown Lancaster, will increase from $1.20 to $1.25.

Fares for Zone 1 will increase from $1.30 to $1.40, for Zone 2 from $1.55 to $1.70, for Zone 3 from $1.85 to $2.05 and for Zone 4 from $2.25 to $2.45.

The RRTA board approved the rate hikes March 15.

Read a PDF version of this story from The Lancaster Intelligencer Journal here.

STATE COLLEGE

Transit budget requests increase in municipal contributions
Source: The Centre Daily Times

April 24, 2006 - Centre Region officials this week will take up a bus service budget that calls for a 5 percent increase in local municipal
contributions and reflects a dramatic shift in ridership from southeast to northwest of State College along the Atherton Street corridor. The Council of Governments general forum -- the monthly meeting of 32 council members and supervisors from six municipalities around Penn State -- meets Wednesday evening in College Township's municipal building.

The Centre Area Transportation Authority will present COG members with an $8.7 million operating budget for 2006-07 that amounts to a 13 percent increase over the current year's budget, with local contributions increasing 5 percent.

But the local municipal contributions do not go up evenly. The largest increases occur in Ferguson and Patton townships, the high-growth areas along North Atherton Street, where new residential and commercial development together with increased ridership "has really strained our ability to meet the demand," said Hugh Mose, CATA general manager.

Read a PDF version of the full story from The Centre Daily Times here.

PHILADELPHIA

Rail and bus ridership up
Source: The Philadelphia Business Journal

May 26, 2006 - If it seems like the morning commute to work on public transportation is getting more crowded, it is.

New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit) is carrying 18,450 more commuters than over the same quarter last year. More than 106,000 passengers each day are using SEPTA's 13 regional rails, an overall increase of about 5 percent over same period last year.

The continued high gas prices have helped to increase ridership on public transportation. To accommodate demand, bus routes and rail cars have been and will be added in the future by NJ Transit and SEPTA, both of which are being burdened by the increasing cost of fuel themselves.

Read a PDF version of the full story from The Philadelphia Business Journal here.

YORK

Rabbittransit needs funds
Riders could see rates increase or service cuts unless funding changes are made.

Source: The York Daily Record

May 19, 2006 — Rabbittransit riders could see increased fares or service cuts in the coming years if a long-term solution to mass transit funding isn't found.

Rabbittransit has been using reserves to balance its budget, and financial projections show the reserves will be exhausted by December 2007, executive director Richard Farr said.

That means the company will have to start talking about changes next summer unless more funding comes through, Farr said. The funding is not keeping pace with inflation.

Read a PDF version of the full story from The York Daily Record here.

SHARON

Bus service faces fuzzy financial future
Source: The Sharon Herald

May 18, 2006 — The financial situation at Mercer County Community Transit and Shenango Valley Shuttle Service is not as desperate as it was a year ago, but the future is unsettled, officials said.

Mercer County Regional Council of Governments, which runs both services, adopted budgets Wednesday for the transit agencies — $813,800 for Shuttle and $1,336,660 for Transit — and Shuttle’s transportation improvement program, a long-term plan of capital expenses.

Read a PDF version of the full story from The Sharon Herald here.

More PA News

15 more light-rail cars to get overhaul (PDF)
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette / May 30, 2006
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06150/694161-147.stm

Port Authority's new director did homework
Focusing on building service, ridership his goal
(PDF)
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette / May 26, 2006
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06146/693397-147.stm

Study outlines transit's future
Regional report lists improvement 'menu'
(PDF)
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette / May 20, 2006
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06140/691698-147.stm

Port Authority holds line on fares
Agency hopes state will chip in to meet deficits
(PDF)
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette / May 20, 2006
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06140/691725-147.stm

Public weighs in on 5 east transit plans (PDF)
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review / May 24, 2006
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/search/s_455173.html

Public can affect eastern transit service (PDF)
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review / May 22, 2006
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/search/s_454912.html

Port Authority $31.5M short (PDF)
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review / May 20, 2006
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/search/s_454753.html

Pa. study emphasizes transit-development link (PDF)
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review / May 20, 2006
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/search/s_454758.html

Grant sought for transit-expansion study (PDF)
Tribune-Review / May 19, 2006
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/search/s_454623.html

Backers of commuter rail line urged to act (PDF)
Valley News Dispatch / May 24, 2006
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/search/s_455254.html

Transit system must be better connected, study says (PDF)
Pittsburgh Business Times / May 19, 2006
http://pittsburgh.bizjournals.com/

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Transit News From Other Regions

CHICAGO

CTA to end its bargain on fare cards Thursday
Source: The Chicago Tribune

May 26, 2006 - Chicago Transit Authority riders have until Wednesday to get a Chicago Card or Chicago Card Plus without having to pay $5.

On Thursday, the CTA will resume charging $5 for the cards, ending a waiver that began in December when the agency offered the cards for free to help people avoid the Jan. 1 cash fare increase.

On that day, cash fares jumped to $2, and 25-cent cash transfers were eliminated. People with Chicago Cards still pay $1.75 to ride a bus or train and can transfer for a quarter.

The CTA originally intended to start charging $5 for the cards on May 1 but extended the waiver period for a month to encourage Dan Ryan motorists to use transit rather than battle gridlock on the highway during its reconstruction.

Read a PDF version of this story from The Chicago Tribune here.

TORONTO

Strike blindsides commuters
Wildcat strike catches morning TTC riders by surprise, disrupts transit well into the evening

Source: The Toronto Star

May 30, 2006 - A massive wave of public outrage and anger greeted Toronto Transit Commission drivers and other employees as they ended an illegal wildcat strike yesterday afternoon, returning to work just in time to deal with the chaos of the homebound commute.

It took two separate orders from the Ontario Labour Relations Board to force the TTC's unionized employees, whose illegal strike blindsided hundreds of thousands of Toronto commuters when it began yesterday morning, to get the drivers and ticket takers back to work.

Read a PDF version of the full story from The Toronto Star here.

CLEVELAND

RTA to stagger fare increase over 18 months
Source: The Cleveland Plain Dealer

May 17, 2006 - RTA got a fare increase designed to keep it on its feet, and on its wheels. The increase will phase in, with the first part arriving July 1 and the second installment Jan. 7, 2008.

Ultimately, bus and rapid fares will rise to $1.75, an increase of 50 cents and 25 cents, respectively. Park-N-Ride buses will cost $2, up from the current $1.50. And senior fares will rise from 50 cents to 75 cents.

Regional Transit Authority General Manager Joe Calabrese told board members Tuesday morning that the two-step increase was the gentlest way to implement the higher fares. He has said for the last year that RTA is the largest public-transit system to go without a major fare increase in 13 years.

Read a PDF version of the full story from The Cleveland Plain Dealer here.

MINNEAPOLIS

Minnesota Transportation Amendment
Twenty-five years ago, the Minnesota Legislature decided that all of the revenue from the motor vehicle sales tax would go to transportation.
Source: MSNBC.com

May 24, 2006 - But little by little, that money started going towards other programs. Minnesotans for Better Roads and Transit, a coalition of more than seven hundred groups, is asking people to vote yes to a new amendment that would put that money back into transportation.

The new amendment would direct all of the revenue from the motor vehicle sales tax straight to transportation.

If passed, that means 300 million dollars more for roads, bridges, and public transit.

Read a PDF version of the full story from MSNBC.com here.

MILWAUKEE

Transit system at ‘critical point’
Transit funding options skidding into pressures on tax dollars

Source: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

May 28, 2006 - It is a route that never seems to change.

Every weekday, more than 150,000 times a day, someone boards a Milwaukee County Transit System bus to reach a job, a class, a store, a doctor or a home.

And every year, for six years straight, the Milwaukee County Board has cut bus service, raised fares or both.

With one of every 12 county residents riding a bus to work or school, transit supporters believe the county must find a new route to keep the buses and the local economy driving forward.

But that new route could lead into the politically dangerous neighborhood of new taxes. The transit system is one of the few its size that compete with other agencies for limited property tax dollars. And long before the recent push to create a sales tax for parks, recreation and cultural programs, transit backers were seeking a new revenue source to wean the bus system off the property tax levy.

"We are at a critical point in the transit system," as rising costs threaten to trigger more service cuts, bus system Managing Director Ken Warren says.

Read a PDF version of the full story from The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel here.

SAN DIEGO

North County Transit District approves fare hikes
Source:
The North County Times

May 30, 2006 - The North County Transit District unanimously approved a fare increase for bus and train riders Thursday afternoon despite complaints from citizens that the hikes are too costly.

Regular base fares are to increase from $1.75 to $2. The rates for senior citizens and the disabled would rise from 75 cents to $1.

The transit district's board of directors proposed the rate hikes because the rising cost of diesel fuel has deeply curtailed revenue generated by riders. The transit district's projected operating budget for 2007 shows a $1.5 million budget shortfall if no rate hikes or service changes are made.

Read a PDF version of the full story from The North County Times here.

TUSCON

Tuscon Approves $2.1 Billion for Transportation
Source: Center for Transportation Excellence

May 17, 2006 - Yesterday voters in Pima County, Arizona approved both a new regional transportation plan and a half-cent sales tax to implement the plan. The plan was supported by 60% of Tucson-area voters. The accompanying dedicated sales tax won with 58% of the vote. The tax is expected to generate $2.1 billion over the next 20 years.

The package contains an array of highway, transit, and safety projects. Approximately one-third of the funding will support expanded transit in the region, including a streetcar connecting University Medical Center and downtown Tucson. The funding from the sales tax for the streetcar will allow Tucson to match available federal funding for the project.

Read a PDF version of the full story from the Center for Transportation Excellence here.

CANTON, OH

Stark County (Ohio) Voters Approve Transit Tax Extension
Source: Center for Transportation Excellence

May 3, 2006 - Yesterday voters in Stark County, Ohio approved a five-year, .25 cent sales tax extension. The ballot measure received the support of 57 percent of area voters. The sales tax generates $11.85 million annually for the Stark Area Regional Transit Authority. The measure becomes the first adopted transportation funding ballot measure in 2006. Numerous communities around the country will be seeking voter approval later this year. More than 40 such initiatives are currently under active consideration. Transporation measures in Oregon and Arizona will be voted on later this month.

Read a PDF version of the full story from the Center for Transportation Excellence here.

PORTLAND, OR

TriMet may raise fares in September
Source: The Portland Business Journal

May 24, 2006 - TriMet is considering raising fares in September at least 5 cents and possibly 10 cents.

The TriMet board on June 28 will vote on raising a two-zone ticket to $1.70, an all-zone ticket to $2 and monthly passes to $74, a $2 increase.

TriMet raised the fares last September and January this year. If approved in June, the fares will have raised a total of 30 cents, and possibly 35 cents, per ticket since September 2005.

The proposed fare increase covers only the increased cost of doing business. It does not address the $4.3 million deficit caused by record high diesel prices since fiscal year 2005.

TriMet purchases about 6.5 millions gallons of diesel annually, and budgets diesel at $2.15 per gallon. During the month of May, TriMet averaged $2.48 per gallon.

Under TriMet's Diesel Cost Response Policy, if diesel prices remain at the current level, it is likely that an additional nickel will be proposed for a total of a 10-cent fare increase in September, TriMet said Wednesday.

Read a PDF version of the full story from The Portland Business Journal here.

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By The Numbers . . . Pittsburgh's Bus Rapid Transit Projects Among the Top 25 in North America
Source: METRO Magazine

MLK East BuswayThe Port Authority's South, East, West and Martin Luther King, Jr. East Busways have been recognized among the 25 best bus rapid transit (BRT) projects in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico by METRO Magazine in their recently released "BRT 25: Analysis of Top Bus Rapid Transit Projects in North America." The BRT 25 report says the top 25 projects "show commonality in their attempt to increase capacities, reduce dwell times, upgrade the travel experience and generally provide rapid transit-like qualities through the use of rubber-tired buses."

Read a PDF version of METRO's 2006 BRT 25 report here, or visit www.metro-magazine.com.

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Useful Link . . . Eastern Corridor Transit Study: Transitional Analysis to Locally Preferred Alternatives
http://www.spcregion.org/ECTS/

The Eastern Corridor Transit Study Transitional Analysis to Locally Preferred Alternatives (ECTS-TA) is being sponsored by the Southwest Pennsylvania Commission (SPC), Westmoreland County Transit Authority (WCTA), Allegheny County and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) to advance the results of the Eastern Corridor Transit Study (ECTS) toward implementation of one or more transit investments. On this website, you can get background information, find out about public outreach efforts, and download maps, newsletters, and reports related to the ECTS-TA.

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Produced by:
Shannon O'Connell, Communications Coordinator and Tom Straw, Web Developer

NOTE: All stories and links from sources other than SPC are provided for information only and do not constitute an endorsement. SPC is not responsible for content provided by others which is either current at the time of transmission or which changes subsequently.

For more information, visit the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission at http://www.spcregion.org.

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NOTE: All stories and links from sources other than SPC are provided for information only and do not constitute an endorsement. SPC is not responsible for content provided by others which is either current at the time of transmission or which changes subsequently.