Cuts In Suburban Pittsburgh Bus Routes Changed Lives

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A couple years ago, when Gloria Jefferson of McKeesport wanted to go somewhere, she walked to a bus stop near her house.

Then, in 2011, her commute became much less convenient. During a round of cuts to fix a budget deficit, the Port Authority canceled her route, which ran through the middle of McKeesport. Now, Ms. Jefferson, who is 80, has to walk a mile downhill to another stop.

The walk is tough for her, especially when she’s carrying grocery bags. Sometimes, she pays for a ride there or avoids going places. She wonders whether she’ll still be able to make the walk when she gets older.

“Right now, I feel good. How long it’s going to last, I don’t know,” she said. “I keep on praying that one day they’ll turn it around and bring the bus back up the hill.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/transportation/2014/04/06/Cuts-in-suburban-bus-routes-changed-lives/stories/201404060065#ixzz2y9vjCoPz

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Gov. Corbett Announces Hundreds Of Additional Projects Due To Transportation Plan

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HARRISBURG, PA – Gov. Tom Corbett today outlined more than 250 projects that will start work this year due to the state’s new transportation plan.

At least $2.1 billion will be invested into the state’s highway and bridge network — about $600 million more than what would have been available without the transportation bill Corbett signed last fall. Overall, more than 900 projects will get underway this year.

“This plan is creating safer roads, bridges and transit systems while at the same time saving 12,000 jobs and creating 50,000 new ones over the next five years – 18,000 jobs are expected to be created this year alone.” Corbett said. “We are putting these transportation investments to work quickly as we strive to build a stronger Pennsylvania both now and in the future.”

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1301350/Gov.-Corbett-announces-hundreds-of-additional-projects-due-to-transportation-plan

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Last Year’s Gridlock Looms Large Over Pirates’ Opener

PNC Park

PNC Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fans arriving for Opening Day on Monday will be getting an earlier start to tailgating around PNC Park, and so will police hoping to avoid last year’s gridlock — but not by much.

Police spokeswoman Sonya Toler said officers assigned to ease congestion and operate signals at the busiest intersections will start arriving at their posts at 10:30 a.m., at least 45 minutes earlier than last year.

But this year’s first pitch is about a half-hour earlier, about 1 p.m. Parking lots and garages open to tailgaters at 9 a.m., and the ballpark gates open at 11. Officials urge fans to have patience, use mass transit or park farther away from the ball field.

“If people can curtail their excitement with a little bit of patience, we’ll be able to help them get where they need to go,” Toler said.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/5830137-74/parking-pirates-fans#ixzz2xYokJ1U5
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Pennsylvania Turnpike To Raise Tolls In 2015

Pennsylvania Turnpike Ticket from the Warrenda...

Pennsylvania Turnpike Ticket from the Warrendale (30) Toll Stop. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pennsylvania Turnpike drivers can expect another toll increase of at least 3 percent next January, and continuing annual increases for years to come, turnpike CEO Mark Compton said Thursday.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the Airport Corridor Transportation Association, Mr. Compton said the state’s new transportation funding law has shortened, but not eliminated, the turnpike’s requirement to pay $450 million a year to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Instead of continuing to 2057, the required payments will end after 2022, he said. Toll increases are needed to underwrite the debt incurred by the turnpike in making those payments.

In the past, PennDOT has directed $200 million from each payment to non-turnpike highway projects and $250 million to mass transit. The new law directs all of the $450 million to transit.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/transportation/2014/03/28/Pennsylvania-Turnpike-to-raise-tolls-in-2015/stories/201403280114#ixzz2xHOq34iN

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Mass Transit Ridership In 2013 Highest In 57 Years

Ridership on buses, trains and subways in 2013 was the highest in 57 years, the American Public Transportation Association said Monday.

The growth in transit ridership continued a 20-year trend attributed to higher gasoline prices, a shift by young adults away from automobiles, increased use of mobile technology, and the increasing allure of urban areas.

“There is a fundamental shift going on in the way we move about our communities,” said APTA president Michael Melaniphy.

In 2013, riders made 10.7 billion trips on U.S. public transit systems, up 1.1 percent from 2012. That was the most since 1956.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/20140311_Mass_transit_ridership_in_2013_highest_in_57_years.html#4DxdR5HbEf6VkPFv.99

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York Public Transportation To Improve With Bill

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The aging fleet of public transportation buses in York County will get a boost from the recently passed state transportation bill, as could Rabbit Transit‘s plans for a fleet conversion from diesel to natural gas.

Rabbit Transit CEO Richard Farr said the $2.3 billion package “couldn’t be passed a moment too soon,” as about 64 percent of the organization’s 87-vehicle fleet is beyond its useful life or will be in 2014.

That means they’ve surpassed 12 years of age or 600,000 miles, “and we have vehicles with mileage as high as 900,000 miles,” he said.

The old buses are more expensive to maintain, to the tune of an extra $600,000 per year, he said, and in recent months two of them had to be retired because the frames are cracked beyond repair, making them unsafe to haul passengers.

Read more: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/breaking/ci_24801596/york-public-transportation-improve-bill

With House Passage, All Are Aboard State Transportation Bill

Pennsylvania state map county outlines

Pennsylvania state map county outlines (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Billions in new taxes and spending for roads, bridges and mass transit in Pennsylvania comfortably cleared a final legislative hurdle Thursday with a bipartisan vote to send a long-stalled bill to the governor.

The state House voted 113-85 to tax gasoline and raise motorist fees over five years to generate at least $2.3 billion in annual additional funding.

Gov. Tom Corbett said in brief remarks at an appearance with a few dozen legislators that he perceived an urgent need to address transportation infrastructure after taking office three years ago.

He said passage of the vote showed leadership and mentioned concerns about public safety several times.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=519891

Provisions Of The Pa. Transportation Funding Bill

Provisions of the transportation funding legislation passed today by the Pennsylvania Senate:

REVENUE

— Generates at least $2.3 billion per year after a five-year period by gradually increasing taxes and fees on motorists; generates $7.36 billion total over the first five years.

SPENDING

— Directs $1.65 billion per year to highway and bridge construction and repair by the fifth year, including $220 million annually for locally owned roads and bridges.

— Directs $476 million to $497 million per year to mass transit agencies by the fifth year.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=519767

On The House: SEPTA Rail Lines Boost Suburban Home Prices, Study Finds

SEPTA logo with text

SEPTA logo with text (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Transit-oriented development is not new, especially to older metropolitan areas such as Philadelphia.

Whether in anticipation of the arrival of public transit or in its wake, homes and commercial enterprises have sprung up near rail stations, trolley stops, and subway entrances since 1858, with the advent of horse-car service on Fifth and Sixth Streets between Southwark and Kensington.

The first steam train began running from Philadelphia to Germantown in 1832, igniting a mass-transit boom that would dictate how and where the region would grow.

As rickety as public transit sometimes seems, this region still has an infrastructure that cities such as Los Angeles; Portland, Ore.; and Atlanta have spent billions trying to replicate to ease their dependence on the automobile.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/classifieds/real_estate/20131110_On_the_House__SEPTA_rail_lines_boost_suburban_home_prices__study_finds.html#dQrjgA3E9CWrv1xb.99

Progress Reported In Talks On Funding For State Transportation

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HARRISBURG, PA – A key state House Republican negotiator said Friday he was optimistic about the chances that the chamber will pass a plan to fund billions in improvements to Pennsylvania’s highways, bridges and mass transit systems, with a preliminary vote possible within a week.

Dave Thomas, an aide to Speaker Sam Smith, R-Jefferson, said that the total amount of new transportation funding in the bill was likely to be between $2.2 billion to $2.4 billion a year.

The state Senate voted overwhelmingly in June for a $2.5 billion proposal, a key agenda item of Gov. Tom Corbett’s, but that plan stalled in the House.

Thomas said he expected talks between House Democrats and Republicans to go through the weekend.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=516824

SEPTA Ridership At All-Time High

SEPTA logo

SEPTA logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

SEPTA commuter trains had more passengers than ever in the year that ended June 30, carrying just over 36 million riders, SEPTA officials said Monday.

The trend was mirrored nationwide, as public transit in general and trains in particular have been gaining riders in recent years.

High gas prices, congested highways, relatively low fares, and a growing preference among young people for transit have all contributed to the rising number of passengers, transportation officials said Monday.

SEPTA Regional Rail trains carried 36.0 million riders, up from 35.3 million in fiscal 2012 and above the previous record of 35.5 million in 2008.  As recently as 1993, SEPTA carried just 19.2 million riders.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/20130723_SEPTA_ridership_at_all-time_high.html#IwbTqaSRLXv0KHyh.99

Without Changes, It Would Cost $50 To Cross The Turnpike By 2021

Pennsylvania Turnpike/Interstate 95 Interchang...

Pennsylvania Turnpike/Interstate 95 Interchange Project (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If the legislature doesn’t phase out the $450 million the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission must pay PennDOT every year, it will cost a driver $50 in tolls to cross the state within eight years, according to Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.

If Act 44, the 2007 bill that required the turnpike to fund bridge repair and mass transit, isn’t changed, the toll for a trip across the state would rise to $150 by 2057, DePasquale warned in a report on Turnpike debt issued Tuesday.

His report comes as the legislature is working through a massive transportation funding bill. Gov. Tom Corbett and leaders in both the House and Senate have said sunsetting Act 44 must be a part of any legislation.  If Act 44 is not phased out, Turnpike CEO Mark Compton has said the commission will have to begin scaling back its maintenance and improvement budget.

Read more:  http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/06/without_changes_it_would_cost.html#incart_m-rpt-2

Public Wants More Transit Funding, Officials Say

SEPTA logo with text

SEPTA logo with text (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Amid state and federal wrangling over transportation funding, transit leaders meeting in Center City said growing public support should mean more money for trains, buses, and subways.

“The people of the nation are way ahead of some of their elected leaders,” Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff said Monday, citing a new survey for the American Public Transportation Association that showed 74 percent of respondents supported using tax dollars to “create, expand and improve public transportation.”  That was up from 69 percent last year.

In Washington and Harrisburg, lawmakers are debating how to pay for mass transit as well as highways and bridges.  Transit agencies, which typically get at least half of their budgets from taxpayers, are lobbying for increases to replace outdated equipment and vehicles and to bring derelict systems into a state of good repair.

A vote is expected this week in the Pennsylvania state Senate on a transportation-funding bill that would increase the gas tax on wholesalers (who likely would pass it on to motorists at the pump), and raise most vehicle fees and fines for traffic violations.  The measure would produce about $2.5 billion in additional transportation funding after three years, according to its sponsor, Senate transportation chairman John Rafferty (R., Montgomery).

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/20130604_Public_wants_more_transit_funding__officials_contend.html#Ygr2fvsOhvgMWo0W.99

Pennsylvania Senate Highways Plan Would Raise Gas Prices

Editor’s note:  Really!  Because gas prices aren’t high enough already???

HARRISBURG – Spending on Pennsylvania’s highways, bridges and mass transit systems would get a big shot of new funding under a Senate plan unveiled Tuesday that would raise the money by increasing motorist fees and wholesale gas taxes – bumping prices at the pump as much a quarter a gallon.

The $2.5 billion plan by Senate Transportation Committee Chairman John Rafferty, R-Montgomery, is more ambitious and expensive than the proposal Gov. Tom Corbett advanced in January. The increase is nearly 50 percent of the $5.3 billion that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation currently spends on highways, bridges and transit.

Rafferty warned that the state’s bridges and highways are in dire need of repair, and contended that the plan would simply update taxes and fees to reflect inflation after going unchanged since at least the 1990s while giving the state’s economy a big boost.

“This is a sustainable funding plan,” Rafferty told reporters at a news conference where he was backed by dozens of supportive lawmakers and representatives of transportation-minded groups. “This is not a one-shot deal. This is a significant piece of change that will move Pennsylvania forward.”

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=470435

Suburban Areas Becoming More Convenient, City-Like

English: Text that accompanies the ULI logo.

English: Text that accompanies the ULI logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the past two decades, suburban areas have been making a slow transition from car-dependent to people-oriented design, with more options for walking, cycling or public transportation, according to Urban Land Institute, a nonprofit research and education organization.

ULI recently published a report, “Shifting Suburbs: Reinventing Infrastructure for Compact Development,” detailing how this change is mostly driven by generation Y, who favor the convenience of urban-style living in more densely populated areas.

The U.S. population is expected to increase by 95 million in the next 30 years, and most of the growth will occur in suburban towns, which makes smart suburban land use essential to growth. But redeveloping these areas is harder in practice than in theory, according to the report.

Read more:   http://www.philly.com/philly/classifieds/real_estate/Suburban_areas_becoming_more_convenient_urban-like.html

Transit Bus Bursts Into Flames As It Enters Tamaqua; No One Hurt

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Schuylkill County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Schuylkill County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  Here’s something you don’t see every day!

A Schuylkill County public transit bus burst into flames Friday afternoon as it entered Tamaqua to pick up passengers, authorities said.

No one was injured. The Schuylkill Transportation System bus was empty except for the driver, and he jumped out at Broad and Swatara streets before the flames spread.

he 2:05 p.m. fire gutted the bus down to its seat frames. It was a charred shell after South Ward firefighters put out the flames.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/local/police/mc-f-tamaqua-transit-bus-gutted-in-fire-20120805,0,7069613.story

PennDOT Looking At Mass Transit Coordination In Central Pennsylvania

Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties will be participating in a PennDOT sponsored mass transit study aimed at making regional mass transit better.  The study will look at Capital Area Transit, Red Rose Transit, redrabbit and Lebanon Transit see how these four systems can best work together to benefit the Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon and York metropolitan areas.  The goal is to enhance service while making all four transit systems more cost-effective.

SEPTA Ridership Hits 22-Year High

SEPTA logo with text

Image via Wikipedia

For the fiscal year that ended June 30, SEPTA‘s buses, subways, trolleys, and trains had about 334 million passengers, up 4 percent from the previous year and the most since 345 million in fiscal 1989.

SEPTA officials credited service improvements, higher gasoline prices, Center City population growth, and a growing use of transit by young adults.

To read the entire article from Philly.com, click here:

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20110728_SEPTA_ridership_hits_22-year_high.html?ref=twitter.com

Pennsylvania Makes Top Ten List Of US States Reducing Oil Dependence

This should make us all proud.  Pennsylvania was ranked 7th out of the 50 states for doing the most to reduce our dependence on oil.  Because Pennsylvania funds public transit systems (like PART and SEPTA) and because of setting renewable fuel standards we earned high marks.  California ranked number 1 while Alaska was number 50.  Pennsylvania drivers spend 3.4% of their income on gas, which is the 8th lowest percentage in the country!

If you would like to read the report in its entirety you may click on this link: http://www.nrdc.org/energy/states/files/Fighting%20Oil%20Addiction_NRDC_Nov%202010.pdf