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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Pittsburgh-area residents to see fares increase, services decrease


The Pittsburgh area’s Port Authority of Allegheny County board recently approved a $276.6 million operating budget for fiscal-year 2003 (July 1, 2002 to June 30, 2003), which includes a 15 percent fare increase and 4 percent reduction in services resulting from state revenue shortfalls and other factors.

Port Authority already faced a $5.9 million decrease in State Public Transportation Assistance Funds (PTAF) in FY02. But Pennsylvania’s state government notified the authority earlier this month it would have to contend with another $1 million cut, resulting in a more than $10 million projected budget deficit — the authority’s first deficit in 18 years.

In addition to raising fares and reducing services, the authority also eliminated 28 administrative positions, continued a hiring freeze implemented in September on all non-operating positions, and reduced marketing, advertising, training and travel expenses. Officials believe a new collective bargaining agreement with Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85 also will result in future cost controls.

Meanwhile, the board also approved a $110.7 million capital budget, which will continue to fund Martin Luther King Jr. Busway Extension, State II Light Rail Transit Project, North Shore Connector, the purchase of new transit coaches, and the continued expansion of the authority’s Park and Ride Program. (Capital funds may not be used to help offset operating budget expenses.)

In addition to approving specified changes, the board also passed a provision allowing Port Authority to increase base fares to $2.00 if revenue from the new fare structure or other sources, including state and local operating assistance, are insufficient to meet expenses.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/15/2002