Monday, October 02, 2006

Port Authority Continues to Rack 'n Roll

Watch a short video on how to use the racks.

Pittsburgh, PA – Port Authority has added four bus routes to its Rack ‘n Roll Program, continuing efforts to help make Pittsburgh more bike-friendly and public transportation more convenient.

Bicyclists can now load their non-motorized bikes aboard Port Authority’s 26A Ingram-Sheridan, 26D Chartiers City, 56C McKeesport-Lincoln Place and 59U South Side Works-Oakland-Waterfront buses, bringing to 12 the number of selected bus routes in the program.

Port Authority in 1999 permitted bicyclists throughout Allegheny County to take their bikes aboard the T and Monongahela Incline and in 2001 equipped 85 buses with bike racks serving eight routes: 11D Perrysville, 21A Coraopolis, 54C North Side-Strip District-Oakland-South Side, 71A Negley, 77D Highland-Friendship, 77F Morningside-Friendship, 77G Stanton Heights-Friendship and 500 Highland Park-Bellevue.

In partnership with Bike Pittsburgh, Sustainable Pittsburgh and the City of Pittsburgh, Port Authority selected bus routes to be included in Rack ‘n Roll because they operated to or near local colleges and universities and popular biking destinations such as the Allegheny River Bike Trails, Schenley Park and Three Rivers Heritage Trails.

One of the new routes, 56C McKeesport-Lincoln Place, offers a transit connection to the Great Allegheny Passage Trail. This trail provides a direct bike connection from McKeesport to Cumberland, Md., with future plans linking it to Washington, D.C.

“With enthusiasts biking year-round, our bike-friendly vehicles allow us to be responsive to their needs while attracting new riders to the system,” said Port Authority Chief Executive Officer Steve Bland. “Our Rack ‘n Roll program goal is to help enhance the convenience and reliability of our services, strengthen our community partnerships, and make it possible for many in our region to reach several venues throughout Allegheny County using bikes and transit.”

The new bike racks are funded by a federal Transportation Enhancement Program grant provided to Port Authority from the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission and Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Port Authority will expand Rack ‘n Roll early next year, taking the number of Port Authority buses equipped with bike racks from the current 158 to 350.

Scott Bricker, the executive director of bicycle advocacy and awareness group Bike Pittsburgh, said, “We are very pleased with the devotion Port Authority has shown towards making the Rack 'n Roll program a success. Programs like this do an incredible service to individuals who wish to combine modes of transportation and make Pittsburgh more bike-friendly. We look forward to our continued partnership in expanding Rack ‘n Roll."

Rack ‘n Roll information is available on Port Authority’s newly redesigned Web site, www.portatuhority.org, including a video demonstrating the ease of using a bike rack. Each rack is attached to the front of the bus and accommodates two bicycles. Unless accompanied by an adult, bicyclists must be aged 12 or older to use the bike racks. Information pamphlets are available on the Web site, buses and T and also in Port Authority schedule racks.

Customers wishing additional information should contact Port Authority Customer Service at (412) 442-2000 or the TTY number, (412) 231-7007, for the speech and hearing impaired.


Bus lines outfitted with racks:

EXISTING bus routes that have been re-outfitted with racks:
11D Perrysville
21A Coraopolis
54C North Side-Strip District-Oakland-South Side
71A Negley
77D Highland-Friendship
77F Morningside-Friendship
77G Stanton Heights-Friendship
500 Highland Park-Bellevue.

NEW bus routes that will be in service as of October 2nd:
26A Ingram-Sheridan (West End)
26D Chartiers City (West End)
56C McKeesport-Lincoln Place (Take this bus to get to the Great Allegheny Passage Trailhead)
59U South Side Works-Oakland-Squirrel Hill-Waterfront


IMPORTANT NOTE: If you experience any issues with the bus racks – if one happens to be broken or a bus on a rack-designated route doesn't arrive with a rack just follow these simple steps:
1) Please contact Port Authority Customer Service at 412-442-2000
2) When you call, tell them the bus route, time and location of when you intended to board the bus (e.g. "the rack on the 54C route at 1:12 p.m. on South 18th Street at Carson Street...").
3) If you were able to obtain the four digit vehicle number, found on the back exterior or front interior of the bus, give that number to customer service as well.

Also, if you have a positive experience using a bus rack, call and tell your story

27 Comments:

At 11:04 AM, Anonymous Elly said...

The bike racks are great! I used them when my mom was in town and we biked from Bloomfield to the South Side and did not want to do the hill in Panther Hollow.

I also use them to transport my bike from Downtown to Oakland when I don't feel like a long ride along the Eliza Furnace trail.

 
At 6:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joe who? For decades we looked to state Rep. Joe Preston to become more accountable. But as the years have drifted by, he drifted further and further away. A good example: On October 13, 2006, Mr. Preston suggested the following to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial board "Other transit systems have found a way to operate without Saturday service" as a response to $32.5 million deficit facing the Port Authority. In short, it appears that Mr. Preston prefers Port Authority raising the base fare, cutting service and/or laying off employees, although he says he supports dedicated funding. That is, to evoke public anger (pitting riders against workers) he has adopted spin that suggests Port Authority "must learn to make do with less and balance their operating budgets with service cuts and/or fare hikes."

Port Authority announced $36 million as the projected deficit for 2006-07. Because the federal government does little to subsidize urban public transit operations, the deficit burden falls on the state and local government. Governor Rendell has proposed raising the authority's subsidy 2 percent for next year, generating about $2 million. But such doesn't change the fact that the legislature must provide dedicated, predictable long-term funding. Hopes for such funding sit partly with a nine-member transportation reform and funding commission that the governor formed through executive order. The commission is looking at highways, bridges, aviation and rail freight programs as well as transit. However, its final report isn't due until November 15 (after the Nov. 7, General Election).

The familiar spin that Mr. Preston offered to the editorial board is commentary attempting to force the state's transit systems and their union employees to accept competitive bidding in their labor agreements. To impress reluctant legislators like Rep. Preston the Port Authority has reduced management personnel and administrative expenses and has made an effort to reduce the annual deficit in all the areas which are within their control. That is, Port Authority's operating costs have grown by 1.9 percent per year, well below the rate of inflation. In fact, the cost of bus service per passenger mile is 26 percent less than the average of comparable systems and the general administrative costs per unit of service were 40 percent less. Thus, Port Authority costs per vehicle hour and vehicle mile of service are considerably less than other transit agencies of similar size.

However, funding for public transit operations in Pennsylvania does not keep up with inflation. Had the state's General Fund operating subsidy grown by the rate of inflation over the past 14 years, more than $500 million would have been available to Pennsylvania transit systems, including $125 million to Port Authority (far more than would have been needed to offset current operating deficits). In short, there are two main funding streams for public transit operations in Pennsylvania. One is called the General Fund for Mass Transit Operating Assistance Budget Line Item. In 1995 this fund provided around $247 million for public transit operating assistance statewide. In 2004, the same fund provided around $270 million ( a 1 percent annual increases in funding over a 10-year period). The other funding system is called the Public Transit Assistance Fund. It is supplied by such sources as a $1 fee per tire on new tire sales, a $2 per day fee on car rentals, a 3 percent tax on motor vehicles leases, and 1.22 percent of the state sales and uses tax capped at $75 million. This funding stream has grown by only 1.3 percent over the past several years. Groups such as Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network (33 congregational and organizational members) have called for dedicated funding because public transit is an essential public service, much like our education system and the construction and maintenance of our highway system. Like public transportation, those services are subsidized, and for a good reason. They benefit society as a whole. Public transportation is no different.
For almost 43 years the Port Authority has been providing comprehensive public transportation services safely and effectively to the poor and low-income of District 24 (one of the Nation's most difficult transit environments). Every year, we worry about whether we can depend on our bus being there when we need it to "connect us to life." Eliminating Saturday service as Rep. Preston suggested to the Post-Gazette editorial board is "just out of the question." Reliable convenient schedules, clean comfortable equipment, and economical fares for the 68 million rides provided annually (240,000 on the average weekday) will only come to pass with dedicated and predictable funding streams. If public transit budgets are to be balanced by reducing (non-peak) Saturday services, then potential new riders will stay in their cars and increase traffic congestion, and the costs of maintenance of our road and highway system.

Todd Elliott Koger, candidate for State Representative (District 24), requests that you take action during Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network's Public Action, 7:00-9:00 p.m., Thursday, October 26, 2006, at Petra International Ministries, 235 Eastgate Drive (Old East Hills Shopping Center). More than 1500 or more concerned residents from this region will be present.

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