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ACCESS Cuts Temporarily Avoided

State and federal funding prevent the cuts from happening for at least another year.

Hold the phone.

Devastating cuts facing ACCESS riders will not occur in September thanks to a special funding arrangement made possible by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and two federal programs that benefit transit riders with disabilities, according to a news release from Port Authority of Allegheny County.

Port Authority's Board of Directors on Friday unanimously voted to accept the funding and rescind plans that would have reduced ACCESS service hours and service area starting on Sept. 2.

Meanwhile, conversation focused on resolving broader transportation funding issues and the are ongoing and involve officials from the state, county, Port Authority and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85.

The ACCESS funding was made available through the federal Job Access and Reverse Commute and New Freedom programs, both of which are matched by the state.

The Port Authority Board voted to amend its current budget and accept $3.65 million from the state and federal sources, ensuring ACCESS service will remain stable through Sept. 1, 2013.

"This will make a tremendous difference for people with disabilities living outside the Port Authority service area who depend on ACCESS," said Lucy Spruill, an ACCESS rider and the public policy director for United Cerebral Palsy/Community Living and Support Services. "This will allow those riders to leave their homes for work, health care and to enjoy meaningful lives.

"We very much appreciate the efforts of County Executive (Rich) Fitzgerald, the Allegheny County legislative delegation, as well as PennDOT, Port Authority and ACCESS. We look forward to continuing to work together to preserve public transportation for all the citizens of Allegheny County."

The funding is a temporary solution for ACCESS riders. If no longterm solution is in place by Sept. 1, 2013, ACCESS service reductions may take effect then.

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SMH July 27, 2012 at 09:06 PM
I work for the Dept. of Aging and the cuts that have been made are a crime. The guy making these decisions was told "balance the budget!". Obviously, that is all this governor cares about. SMH
JustMe July 27, 2012 at 10:58 PM
Blame Port Authority and the big honcho's with big pay checks. Blame the bus drivers with what they get paid and their retirement package. Tom Colbett didn't create this mess, he inherited it from Rendell a Democrat. Port Authority made their own mess and they need to clean it up themselves. Cut pays, cut paying all their healthcare, and quit giving the retirees everything on a silver platter.
JustMe July 28, 2012 at 02:21 PM
I know what my neighbor makes and he is retiring at the end of the year and constantly bragging about his pension and benefits he will be receiving, but your the expert on the Port Authority.
JustMe July 28, 2012 at 02:41 PM
This is exerts from the article from the Post Gazette on March 17, 2012 Retire this: The Port Authority handsome pension checks http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/opinion/editorials/retire-this-the-port-authoritys-handsome-pension-checks-477259/ "Middle-age CEOs leave with golden parachutes, only to move on to other companies. Employers in both the public and private sectors sweeten the retirement pot for high-salaried workers, often in their 50s, to leave voluntarily so staff can be cut or starting-salary newcomers can be hired. Transit employees in their 40s and 50s "retire" with full pensions and health coverage." (NOTE FULL HEALTH CARE) "The Allegheny County transit system, which is facing deep service cuts and a stiff fare increase, has indulged in what state Auditor General Jack Wagner calls a "lavish" and "abusive" pension and health-care program. On Monday, Post-Gazette staff writer Joe Grata detailed who the top beneficiaries were among management employees receiving between $3,200 and $8,500 a month in retirement payments. In fairness, some of them (ONLY SOME OF THEM, NOT ALL), paid large sums of their own money to enhance their benefits in the program." Other articles say that the Port Authority Drivers in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania have the best retirement package out of all bus drivers all over the Country.

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