Friday, December 23, 2011

Tunnels and Bus Cuts

Only a CRISIS actual or perceived produces real CHANGE: Many times in this blog over the last 4 years I've used this quote as to what is happening to transit in Allegheny County. The power brokers behind the curtain at the Port Authority the real Wizards in this real life drama have embarked down a path of CHANGE. As the quote suggests a CRISIS must be implemented to produce CHANGE. However what the Great Oz's in this story haven't told to the public are the reasons for this CRISIS. No, to do so would show their own FAILINGS and ulterior motives in this screenplay. So to hide behind the curtain of massive mistakes and downright lies of what the true cost of this Subway tunnel really is, our Power Elite and Representatives of the 1% have invented a bogus Boogeyman. This scenario has been played out worldwide, a vision of blaming the guy who wakes up and goes to work for a living and negotiates a fair wage with retirement at the end of his Families Rainbow. However the funny thing about this lie is that too many of our own kind, the 99% if you will, are only too ready to believe the False and misleading statistics they're bombarded with daily. We're only too willing to believe that what ever is put in front of us as news is factual. On this front the 1% know they can win ,and of course why shouldn't they, after all the Media is owned by them, be it the Broadcast or print version. One of my favorite movie lines is from the "Gangs of New York" towards the end of the Movie one of the Elite states that he has no fear of the Poor because as he states quite eloquently "you can always count on buying one half of the poor to kill the other half" I'm not sure I've ever heard a truer statement.

So with that thought in mind I've compiled a few Links, some from Newspapers, some from another source. I have no idea if these links will stay on line, my guess is that as soon as someone representing the Wizards behind our curtain in Allegheny County find this resource engine they'll be taken down promptly. But the Hard copies of these stories do exist if they are taken down. Either way on this day in 2011 two days before Christmas We give you a compilation of Steve Bland's and Dan Onorato's day's leading up to the completion of Pittsburgh's chapter of the BIG DIG, and how lies and miscalculations and Greed have lead to more BUS CUTS and even more to come. All in the name of Progress, but not for the 99%!

(Read this quote from Jim Roddey in 2006, about future Bus Service)

In a related matter, Mr. Roddey announced he would say "something that's not going to be very popular," asking the Port Authority board to reconsider the $435 million North Shore Connector that's just getting under way.
"Now is not the time to be doing that," he said of the 1.2-mile light-rail extension, warning neither the county nor state will pay for any cost overruns and that undertaking the project "could doom any chance we have for additional funding" for bus-trolley operations.Read more:

(This story was written by Jim Ritchie in 2006. Today MR. Ritchie is the spokesman for the Agency. In 2006 Critics were wondering where the agency would get the 2.5 million to operate the extension. Today we know, they'll make the Blind Guy and Postal worker in the East end and elsewhere wait longer because of their endless Bus Cuts)

Critics doubt the connector will attract 10,000 daily riders expected in 2012, its first year of operation, and are concerned about paying the $2.5 million projected annual operating costRead more: New rail route no sure thing - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

( Authority officials are being tight lipped about Funding Assurances )

( 393 million cost June 2006)

Authority officials are being tight-lipped about funding assurances for the project that would extend the line 1.2 miles north of Gateway Center and provide three stations. Latest cost estimates also are being kept secret.
The authority's new chief executive officer, Steve Bland, who started Monday, said, "There has been a fair amount of movement" in securing a full-funding agreement under which the Federal Transit Administration would pay 80 percent of the costs.Read more:

(Budget woes begin Under Bland's Stewardship)

Port Authority of Allegheny CountyĆ¢€™s board of directors unanimously approved a $347.5 million budget today for the 2006-07 fiscal year that includes a $31.5 million hole.
Authority members anticipate state lawmakers will approve financial help to offset the deficit before January when the agency projects hitting "cash flow challenges."
The budget takes effect July 1 and ends June 30, 2007. Lawmakers are waiting for recommendations long-term solutions to chronic transit shortages from a state Transportation Funding and Reform Commission created by Gov. Ed Rendell. Those recommendations are due by Nov. 15.
More headlines
Subscribe to the Tribune-Review todayRead more: Port Authority approves budget - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

(How could this be so a surplus in 2008?)

( Somebody screwed up, that'll )

(never happen again)

Port Authority entered its fiscal year last June facing an $80 million deficit, but now projects that it will end the year with a surplus.
Cost-saving moves combined with a January fare increase have created an estimated $10 million surplus -- assuming Allegheny County pays its $27 million transit subsidy by July 1Read more: Transit authority anticipates $10 million surplus - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

( Dan fixes that surplus problem )

POSTED: 6:29 am EDT October 8, 2008 UPDATED: 5:04 pm EDT October 8, 2008
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PITTSBURGH -- The Port Authority of Allegheny County is facing a financial crisis, and the mass transit agency could be just weeks away from going broke, according to a report by WTAE Channel 4's news exchange partner, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
County Executive Dan Onorato told the Trib that if things don't change, the Port Authority will be forced to shut down by Dec. 1.
More than 100,000 commuters who use bus and light-rail trolley service would be affected.
In January, two new taxes on poured alcoholic drinks and rental cars went into effect. Money generated by the taxes is earmarked for the county's annual subsidy of the Port Authority.
Onorato is withholding the $27 million subsidy -- which also triggers the release of a $183 million state subsidy -- to force a new round of contract negotiations between Port Authority management and union representatives.Read more:

( March 9 2008 they're all backslapping TUNNEL cost only 435 Million )

On June 28, 2006, I wrote this opening paragraph of a featured article: "The estimated cost to bore twin tunnels under the Allegheny River, extend the light-rail transit system to the North Shore and build three stations is now $435 million -- a 10 percent increase in little more than a yearRead more:

( Dec.2011 To boost ridership, free rides are bought by the Stadium Authority)

Meanwhile cost has increased to 523.4 million but not one media outlet cries foul

The $523.4 million North Shore Connector project extends the Light Rail Transit system by 1.2 miles from a new station in Gateway Center to new stations at PNC Park and Heinz Field. Test trains are expected to start operating this month and passenger service is scheduled to debut in late March.Read more:

How did Port Authority get into this deep, expensive hole of river tunnel?
Underground rail extension to North Shore overrode servicing Oakland or convention centerRead more:







County executive Dan Onorato is taking an executive VP job with insurance giant Highmark — right in the middle of its World War with UPMC — despite that flurry of “no comments” a month ago.
He succeeds David O’Brien, who made $1 million in salary and other compensation from the insurer in 2010, and $1.39 million in 2009

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The news hasn't been dealt out to the riding public as I write this but guess what's right around the corner Bus riders? That's right more of the annual service cuts. However if you live along the "T" somehow you're service is increasing this coming March of 2012. I know some who may read this think that our views are tainted and cynical and downright wrong. Let me be clear on what this blog is about and has always been about. This is about a timeline on how the Citizens of this County have been misled from day one by Authority management and County Executive now Highmark One Million a Year lackey Dan Onorato.

From day one of Dan's administration his goal has been to create a transit crisis. (read the caption) Unending service cuts since 2005 (Dan came into office in January 2004) The public needs to realize that it's not overpaid employees,legacy costs,fuel,etc. Enjoy your free ride everyone over to the Casino's,Bars,Ballparks,Stadiums,Entertainment venues, we've paid for it and we'll continue to pay for it. Sorry but's it's way more than a coincidence that since that mile long tunnel was built that buses have been in constant downsizing. Management at our beloved Authority has failed to operate a damn thing under cost estimates, with one huge glaring exception . That's right the TUNNEL is the exception,on time,on budget. Answer me this naysayers. How could such a seemingly inept Goverment Agency that succeeds in nothing since Steve Bland was appointed, and on his 1st week on the job (June 2006) gave the go ahead of a tunnel to the 1% who play in the palaces that taxpayers are financing be such an exception to this? Guess what, it's NOT!

As the Law stands now no transit agency serving a area of over 200,000 can use Federal capital funds to run the day to day operations of a transit operation,unfortunately the reverse is not true. Thats right the revenue that is used to run the day to day operations so that it may function to provide the services it's there for, can and ARE used to finance Capital Projects like the Tunnel. So you see while others play over at the Palaces built by TAXPAYERS the Janitor or Nurses Aide waits an extra 60 minutes to get to or from their destination with Blands enless Bus service reductions to finance this gift to the 1%. How is this so you ask? The almost total destruction of Bus service in this County follows a direct path of the Subway extension, a simple matter of robbing Peter to pay Paul or in this case Paying the Rivers Casino,PNC Park,Stage AE,Heinz Field and robbing the Postal worker or the blind guy living in the East End. Absolutely amazing how this one thing is so efficient and the Media reports no cost overuns but the rest of Blands operations are going Bankrupt. Oh yeah he does have a Boogeyman on why this is so, the bus driver. Our local media continue to voice these lies and in time these things will be fixed by more contract concessions and Gasp, service reductions to finance the next thing on the 1% horizon. Yes, soon to come to UPMC and the area between Downtown and Oakland. Bus Rapid Transit, to be financed by more concessions,more service cuts,more crisises. And transit workers standard of living will continue to decline along with the other 99%. And when it's all fixed and everything is back as it was, i'll guarantee Dan 1 million a year Onorato and his amoral appointee Steve Bland will be residing elsewhere in comfort as the rest of us wonder how we'll afford the next bill,or the next threat of a Job loss. Follow the money is the simplest rule to follow when you want to find the truth. I have no idea on where this money trail leads, but I do know it's not anybody working for an hourly wage who's able to cause such endless heartache and grief . Click on some of Blands gifts to the transit riders below

( 2007 Service reductions Blands scorecard introduced )

( Transit Development Plan announced )

( Local 85 annouces a 18.5 million concession to save service. Bland said no)

( Steve Bland's Profile, How could such a brilliant man destroy this system? Unless of course that's the idea to begin with)

( Steve announces that he needs 15 million a year in concessions (9-2011) even though as you can see above he rejected 18 million a year to stave off reductions in March of the same year )

(Dan Million Dollar Onoratto clarifies his intentions March 2006 3 months before Bland is hired)

( 3 years and 1.3 million before Nelson-Nygaard supposedly invented it in 2009 with the Transit Development Plan or Connect "09" the transportation action team suggests in 2006 a Oakland circulator system connecting Bloomfield ,South Side,Lawrenceville and a rapid transit system between Oakland and Town . I believe the Transportation action team was voluntary but to validate their service reductions that mostly failed with Steve Blands famous "Scorecard" of 2007 they hired Nelson-Nygaard to sell swampland to the Transit rider of Allegheny County with "Connect 09")

( And this action annnouncing the Transportation Action team members almost a year after the idea was broached is where it all started to begin a transit overhaul to implement the crisis that was necessary for all the changes that have come and will come to Port Authority stakeholders)

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Media Machine

I know that there are many people out there that don't believe this could ever happen, but the Pittsburgh media (except for the city paper) is in total cahoots with the Port Authority of Allegheny County. Every time that the Pg, Trib, or the networks get a story in this town they spin it in a way that makes the Unions look bad. For instance John Schmitz wrote an article in the Post Gazette today about the "Union Sabotage," well if you want the truth put out there sometimes you have to tell it yourself.

Truth be told the Port Authority has known for weeks that there is no way that they had any chance to get the operators transferring to other divisions qualified on the work that they picked in time for the March 26Th deadline that they imposed. The PAT Management team is relying on their same old tactics that they will just blame it on the Union and the media will run with it. For weeks the Supervisors in the Instruction Department have been emailing their bosses telling them that it was an impossible task and it would never get done. Now when it is a week away PAT Management wants to blame and deflect. The task at hand has never been done in the History of the Port Authority, and it was too much to ask the Instructors to do in such a short period of time. If you are on the outside of the Authority you need to know how the system works. When a pick is posted for operators, the operators pick their work location first by seniority, and once that process is done for all 2300 operators the the pick is hung at every location with specific schedules/runs also being done by seniority until every run is picked. While that pick is in the works the operators then let the instruction department know what they need to be qualified on (learn the routing). In normal times the instructors have a few months to get the one hundred or so Operators qualified in time, and the ones who don't get completed, change their locations and are out with the Instructors until they learn their routes at that said location. This time is unprecedented, there was a closing of a garage, 190 layoffs, and hundreds of operators forced to pick a new garage coupled with Instructors being forced to different locations at the same time. So there are instructors at locations who don't know the routes to be able to teach the HUNDREDS of operators in a short period of time. The Port Authority says that you can do it on overtime, but they do not pay overtime they pay straight time, and they also want people to work in between their swings, also straight time. The operators would rather pick up real overtime by signing up on the list filling in for vacations. God forbid a Bus Operator have a life either, most Operators pick their schedules around their children, or wife's/husbands work schedule so putting the burden directly on the operator is completely irresponsible. The PAT Management team needs to come clean and tell the truth that they bit off more than they can chew this time, and the media needs to be more responsible before they spew the same old garbage from that spin machine located in the Heinz building.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Steve must go!

Steve Bland came to Pittsburgh in 2006, his time here has been a path of destruction for Transit Riders and Transit Workers alike. From the minute he arrived his goals were to shrink the system and bust the Union. There has been zero growth to the Port Authority, as a matter of fact if you check out his old news articles, almost all of them are negative either towards the Public or the Union, They are all either describing the next funding crisis, raising fares, and cutting service. He once said "the people of Troy Hill should get there walking shoes"when he was planning to cut their bus service. In his short time here he alone has been the biggest reason why people don't ride the bus. The decisions he has made has put people out of range and out of touch of bus service through service cuts and fare increases, and its only going to get worse after March, 27th 2011. Now the Port Authority Board of Directed are going to attempt to award him with a new contract to continue this path of destruction. The people of Allegheny County should stand up and tell Dan Onorato to take Steve Bland with him when he leaves, we don't need him here. His legacy is already a dark period for the Port Authority and he must be stopped before he destroys this system completely.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Christmas Wish.

Some things I hope to find this Christmas season and into the New Year:
That tidings of joy and good will towards men will find it's way into the Port Authority board room.
That the proposed 15% service cut that surely will affect the most vulnerable of routes will be put on hold till a solution can be found that connects everyone to transit.
That Steve Bland a modern day and real life Scrooge will find in his heart the time to lobby for transit in a way that will restore service instead of his legacy of destruction he's building on his resume while up in Harrisburg.
That Dan Onorato will become the goverment official the people elected him to be, and finally take a stand on what HIS appointed board and chief hangman( Mr Bland) is doing to families across the metro area. What was at the time of his 1st term the 10th largest transit agency in the country is now down to around 16 and sinking faster than the Titanic. Thanks Dan. (and he wonders why he's the Governor re-ject)
That Democrats in Allegheny County and the country offer a alternative to neo-liberal economic policies. All to often from people I hear that it makes no difference if a Republican or Democrat wins, that the end results will be the same. Hard to argue with that.
That the only business protected by the constitution (the press) starts doing some exposes on lobbyists and campaign contributors and shows the fraud that's being perpetrated on the nation by big money vested interests that wish to push THEIR agenda. Profits over service, Profits over safety, Profits over everything.
That the voting public start realizing that trade deficits are even more deadly to our futures than monetary deficits, but how often are we reminded of that by the Tea Partiers?
That Steve Bland starts walking in the shoes of some of the people he plans on stranding or already commuting ungodly hours.
That the dedicated public servants of the Port Authority of Allegheny County who are soon to be laid off, many of whom left better paying private sector jobs for what were supposed to be secure futures in the public sector, find it in their hearts to forgive the people who've made their life a living hell over the last decade with past layoffs, talk of layoffs, and continual downsizing. All this done in the name of saving the taxpayer, who has not realized one red cent in tax savings.However our beautuful new stadiums and arenas along with the tunnel,casino, and the restaurant owners seem to be the real beneficiaries in our new service (or is it servant?) economy of low wage jobs without benefits.
That Marty Griffin and all the talk shock guy's who never let fact get in the way of opinion are lucky enough to realize sometime in the near future that what goes around comes around.
That Tom Corbett remain the moderate and common sense attorney he was when he first came onto the political scene and not the Right wing fire breathing dragon his political donors paid for him to become.
That the novels by Charles Dickens portraying life in Victorian England don't become the reality for the middle class here in modern day America, although i'm afraid this is where we're headed.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Shots From The Peanut Gallery

We're not saying we don't want the money, were saying we need this money to ensure we have some time to secure a dedicated funding source before there is nothing left to save...

Here are a few viewpoints in support of the SPC voting in favor of temporary funding and a dedicated solution.

The Amalgamated Transit Union's International President Larry Hanley is the first letter.

ACLC President Jack Shea is the second letter in support of the same measure.

Finally, Jason Altmire who calls himself a friend of Mass Transportation, and often refers to Local 85 as being instrumental in getting him elected, either doesn't get it, or is once again saying the things he needs to say to keep up his "BLUE DOG" status.

Thanks Jason way to go that extra mile.

Well tomorrow is the vote by the SPC, and if anyone is interested there is a rally in support of Governor Rendell's proposal to the SPC at 4:00 pm. Sixth Avenue and William Penn Place across from Mellon Square.