Both the Post-Gazette and the Tribune-Review offer a little of the flavor of what the Port Authority is trying to accomplish with its Connect ’09 service redesign process.  The Port Authority’s consultant on Friday outlined some of the problems that contribute to the system’s relative inefficiency, including:

  • Too many bus stops.
  • Too many confusing routes.
  • Too many routes that compete with one another.
  • Too many routes that extend too far out from the core service area.

Fixing these problems will require transit riders to change some longtime habits.  But not addressing the problems will only make things worse.

The Allegheny Institute deserves kudos for highlighting the inefficiencies of the Port Authority system, documenting problems through some useful research over the years. But, I think the Institute may be a little overly harsh in criticizing the consultant’s work as a “day late, dollar short.”  Knowing there are inefficiencies is only the first step; redesigning the system to optimize resources is real work.  And it’s probably not fair to blame the current Port Authority management team led by CEO Steve Bland for the problems that were allowed to accumulate over the past 20 years.

Yes, the consultant is receiving $800,000 to help with the redesign.  And if the resulting plan improves the Port Authority’s efficiency by even 10% (or $35 million per year, or an additional 7 million riders per year) that will be money well spent.

Posted by: Ken Zapinski