Monday, February 14, 2005

Public Transportation in Pennsylvania

This morning on my bus ride to work, a pair of riders were discussing the plight of the Port Authority of Allegheny County. The Port Authority constantly raises fares and cuts routes in order to keep up with expenses. My fellow riders fretted about the rising cost of the bus ride, and optimistically hoped that Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell will succeed in an attempt to get more money for the Port Authority.

Where will the money come from? From another government program, of course. Millions of dollars intended to improve the infrastructure of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania might be snatched away to subsidize the Port Authority, which ought to be a mostly self-sustaining county government entity but never really has been. Bus service in Pittsburgh has relied on state and federal funding for years.

Why has the situation worsened over the years? Thank the bus drivers' union for that. Every time the union renegotiates the drivers' contracts, they ask for more money. In order to avoid a strike and keep the buses running, the Port Authority relents and gives the unions what they want. Bus riders (literally) pay with real money. Over the past five years, more routes have been drastically reduced or eliminated than ever before.
Do not expect any of those cutbacks to be restored. A huge chunk of the Port Authority's budget goes towards personnel. The drivers are not going to be taking a pay cut any time soon.

So riders are hoping for Ed Rendell to "come through" for them. One of the riders even pointed out why: he's eyeing a presidential run in 2008. This is embarrassing. The man, and his party as a whole, are crass enough to feel that they can buy votes and get elected to high public office. The sad thing is that this works in Pennsylvania nowadays. People can be such whores, given enough incentive.

Like so many matters of public concern, the transit problem cuts right to the whole idea of what government is for. This afternoon, a rally was held at the state capital, Harrisburg, to protest service cuts and fare increases in several areas around Pennsylvania, including Pittsburgh. The AP report begins with some twit demonstrating to the world what idiots Pennsylvanians are:

Randy Angle, a 35-year-old who showed up at the Capitol on Monday to support a rally for public transit funding, said he was praying that lawmakers would be charitable enough to find money to keep the bus and rail systems running without further cuts.

"Hopefully they'll have a nice, kind heart," said Angle, of York, who rides buses to and from his job collecting shopping carts at a Wal-Mart store.
This is Nick Coleman material right here. Someone who labors under the yoke of the great corporate oppressor looks to the government for compassion and understanding. Government has a heart? These people want it to bleed for them. What happens when the blood is drained? Why should they care? It's someone else's blood.

Further along:
At the rally, which drew hundreds of transit riders, union members, college students, environmentalists and advocates for the homeless and disabled, there was little sympathy for lawmakers.
More material for lefty journalists. Give them time, and they will figure out a racial angle. Sympathy for lawmakers? You know those legislators are going to fall all over themselves giving the riders what they want, regardless of the consequences, just to get their votes in the next election.

Wait -- did that say "union members"? What have they to do with this?
"A crisis is here," said William George, the president of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, which helped organize the rally. "And in the next 90 days, there's going to be a whole lot of suffering by a lot of people if we don't do something about it."
Oh, I see. Is that a threat? A proverbial "thinly veiled" threat? You never can tell with these union thugs, especially when the biggest thug of all is your Governor.

It's all about more money for the unions.

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