Monday, January 15, 2007

Give PAT the fiscal Band-Aid

Pittsburgh PA - A reporter on the transportation desk, Joe Grata, from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette shows me again that he is off the mark. Well known for his softball style questions on tough issues to transit officials, Mr. Grata clearly shows he doesn't understand what the true problem at the Port Authority of Allegheny County (PAT) is.

"All House and Senate members from Allegheny County should be there, too, if they aren't too busy scrambling to keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh or getting comfy in their new digs at the Capitol."

"They should be the ones squirming in their seats for not passing long-term, dedicated funding and reform legislation that would have enabled transit officials to contain the bleeding long ago."

In short it reads, give PAT the money they want and the waste will stop.

In reality the exact opposite is true, give PAT the money they want and the waste will get worse.

PAT needs to clean house internally to eliminate the source of the waste. Something the administration is only making token efforts at doing. The past decade of fiscal waste at PAT has literally sent the operation into a fiscal death spiral that it will take decades more to correct.

Chopping service in the hack and slash manner that PAT is planning isn't going to solve the financial situation. While there are many problems at PAT, one of the major ones is how management works and their philosophy of transit in Pittsburgh. It is a management style that generates waste and the philosophy over the years has become one of how to find more ways to spend money.

While I agree that there needs to be a more stable method of funding transit in Pennsylvania as well as fact that some routes do need to be eliminated, the problem won't diminish until the administration wakes up to need to fix itself.

Simply put, giving PAT another fiscal Band-Aid to stem the bleeding won't solve anything. All it will do is put off the inevitable. PAT needs to streamline its management and internal rules as well as change its philosophy to focus on service if it is to survive. Giving PAT money without fixing these issues will not stem the bleeding but allow for the generation of more ways to waste money.

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