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Friday, February 3, 2012

Transit supporter begins online advocacy on behalf of Port Authority

Posted By on Fri, Feb 3, 2012 at 11:23 AM

Since the Port Authority of Allegheny County announced a possible 35 percent service reduction earlier this month, transit advocates have been trying to mobilize riders to save their transit service.

Among them is Andrew Twigg, who is circulating an online petition asking state lawmakers and Gov. Tom Corbett to commit to state funding for transportation.

"There's just a lot of talking going in the media. I thought this would be a simple first step to more formally say, 'Hey Gov. Corbett ... this isn't just about a handful of people. This is something that people rely on,'" says the graphic designer from Lawrenceville.

The Port Authority has been facing financial woes since Act 44, the state's mechanism for funding mass transit, collapsed. That state law anticipated tolling Interstate 80 to provide money for transit and roads around the state; after the federal government rejected the toll proposal, the agency has been seeking a steady funding source to replace the lost revenue. Last year, PAT implemented a 15 percent service reduction and layoffs; this year, the agency is preparing to eliminate nearly half of its routes, lay off 500 and raise fares due a $64 million budget deficit.

Twigg's petition outlines PAT's funding crisis, and calls on the state to address it.

"Even though Governor Corbett has stated that he will release a funding plan in February," the petition states, "he has not committed to the funding necessary to maintain the level of service we have today."

Twigg says he uses transit "rarely," but believes "it's an absolute critical part of the community and economy." He has also started a companion project, Because of the Port Authority, to collect transit users' experiences to send to Harrisburg with the petition.

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