Thursday, December 4, 2008

How much money does PAT need already????

Ok, I don't drive, not for any real reason than I am just a lazy, good for nothing ride mooch. I like being driven around, and since 1975 I have been able to get away with it. My life is like "Driving Miss Mandee" for my poor friends and family. That said, I do intend to get my license any minute now. I even made it to Penn DOT to take the permit test last week , only to be told that it was 3:48 pm, and they stopped taking people at 3:45 , because the office closed at 5 and apparently some people need over an hour to finish a 20 question multiple choice touchscreen test....

So I took the bus home. Actually, I took a trolley to the S Hills Junction and then a bus to my home, it was raining and I didn't want to walk the extra 2 blocks in the rain in my neighborhood. What did I say, lazy, good for nothing....I make no pretense here. In the news paper I read that the drink tax has collected some rediculous amount of money so far, ostensibly to be spent on public transit, you think the economy is in piss poor shape now? Imagine what happens if no one can get to work.... So according to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette "The $45 million -- including nearly $20 million more than the authority needs -- that was collected this year by the 10 percent drink tax is still sitting, untapped, in the bank, he said. The county hasn't paid a cent to the authority since May 2007, he said."

If that is the case why in hell does it take me over an hour to get from downtown on public transit to my home less than 5 miles away in Allentown?? I would walk if I had an aptitude for rainy mountain climbing in violent neighborhoods. I used to joke as a kid that the time it took for me to get from my home in then Greenfield to work in Southside took more time than driving to Meadeville, PA, 90 miles up 79 N to go to college at Allegheny. And if we are taxing alcohol sales to help public transit (something I don't really have a problem with in theory) can we get the busses to run all night? Bars close at 2 am and drunk driving kills. But if you have no choice, or can't afford a $50 cab ride , if you can even get a cab when the bars close to begin with... I had a friend once who insisted Pittsburgh was more like a small 3rd world nation state, since dependable public transport is part and parcel of a developed country and we obviously couldn't get the job done here. (We had been waiting for a cab for over 2 hours at that point, since then I have put together my own list of good small cab companies and jitney go to guys.)

So I guess I am thrilled that we have so much damn money to put towards public transport, do you think we could spend it sometime in the near future? In NYC $2 gets you any where within the 5 boroughs no matter how many trains you have to take to get there. In San Francisco you can get a bus fare for $1.25 and you get 2 transfers with it automatically, here base fare starts at $2 and it's $2.50 for a transfer , only within the immediate city, and you never ever end up anywhere half so interesting. It is time for some change. It is time for environmentally supportable light rail to be restored to our region , and we need some buses running all night and we need buses running more often. It should not take me 2 damn hours to get from Allentown to Highland Park and it should not take me an hour or more to get home from downtown, I live across the river and up the hill. Spend some money Dan! If PAT can't get it together maybe someone needs to remind them that they are a public service not a private company.

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