There’s an explosive report out there with reams of data that detail a lengthy list of the Port Authority’s problems — its history of poor productivity compared to other transit agencies, its high cost of operation, even the amount that taxpayers have to shell out for each and every bus and T ride. But the most interesting thing about the report is that it is the Port Authority taking a critical look at itself (large pdf document).

The report points out many of the same problems highlighted by the Allegheny Conference, the Allegheny Institute, and others in recent years. But this time around it is CEO Steve Bland and the board who are taking a realistic look at the agency, not glossing over problems or turning a deaf ear to concerns. Unless they know what’s wrong, they can’t fix it.

The Peer Review report was produced by the Port Authority’s consultant as part of the Connect 09 system redesign process now underway. Executing a successful redesign and changing the way the current rail and bus network operates is as important to the future of the Port Authority as securing a competitive labor contract.

I’ll have lots more to say about the report in the future but for now I’ll leave you with one of my favorite tidbits in the report: the number of Port Authority bus stops compared to other benchmark systems (Figure 5-1). The Port Authority has 20.3 bus stops for every square mile of its service area. Portland and Seattle, two locales that transit advocates love to gush over, have 13.2 and 9.2, respectively. The only benchmark system with a greater concentration of bus stops is Milwaukee, at 25.3 stops per square mile.

Maybe that’s why Milwaukee also ended up on this list

Posted by: Ken Zapinski