Port Authority Postpones Service Cuts in Forest Hills Area
A 35-percent transit service cut that would have impacted local bus riders has been postponed for a year.
Bus riders in the Forest Hills-Regent Square area can continue to utilize local Port Authority routes for another year.
On Tuesday, the Port Authority's board of directors agreed to postpone a 35-percent transit service reduction and layoffs for one year. The cuts were expected to take effect Sept. 2.
The board also ratified a four-year contract with the Local 85 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, which calls for two years of wage freezes and increases of workers' contributions to the pension fund.
The union commitment provides $60 million in savings to the Port Authority over four years, or an average $15 million a year. The four-year deal will expire on June 30, 2016.
The contract includes:
- Two-year wage freeze, resulting in a savings of $19.6 million.
- Increase in employee pension contributions from 5.5 percent to 10.5 percent of wages, generating $26.8 million in savings.
- Changes to vacation eligibility, providing another $11.3 million in savings.
- Additionally, the union has agreed to reopen the agreement in 2014 to modify healthcare coverage and has committed to reducing spending on healthcare by $1.8 million.
- Remaining savings of $300,000 will be achieved through the in-sourcing of certain maintenance functions at lower costs than contracting, by using existing forces and equipment.
Port Authority management also has stepped up by providing an additional $10 million in savings achieved by increasing pension contributions of non-represented employees from 4.5 percent to 10.5 percent, as well as departmental cost reductions.
Allegheny County also is providing an additional $4.5 million in funding and is doing so without raising taxes.
"These changes not only help preserve transit service today, they are a significant step toward protecting public transportation in Allegheny County for many years," said Port Authority CEO Steve Bland. "We're very thankful to the parties who have been committed to seeking a lasting solution to these issues."
Express service to the suburbs was heavily targeted in the reduction plan. Local routes that could have been eliminated were the P68 Braddock Hills Flyer, P69 Trafford Flyer, P71 Swisshelm Park-Rankin Flyer and P76 Lincoln Highway Flyer.
According to the authority, 100 municipalities or neighborhoods would have lost all transit service if the reductions were implemented. Among them were Braddock Hills, East Hills, Forest Hills, Trafford, Turtle Creek and Wilmerding.
Service also would have been discontinued to the Boyce Campus of Community College of Allegheny County in Monroeville; Brinton Towers senior housing complex in Braddock Hills; and the VA Medical Center on Highland Drive in Lincoln-Lemington-Belmar.