On April 4th One Pittsburgh participated in the National Day of Action for Public Transit, an event organized by Occupy Pittsburgh in response to Occupy Boston’s call for a day of action. Across the nation public transit, a crucial part of our infrastructure, that working people rely on is under attack by budget cuts designed to favor the 1%.
So protests were held outside the City/County building and speakers made their voices heard, explaining what the loss of transit means to them, for their communities, and for Pittsburgh’s economy. The protest culminated in a march to the USS tower to further protest Merrill-Lynch/Bank of America who is demanding nearly $40 million from an interest-rate swap the Port Authority made that has gone wrong because of the financial crisis created by Wall Street.
In PA the situation is dire. Last year the Port Authority cut services by 15%, destroying 270 jobs and cutting or reducing dozens of routes that Pittsburghers rely on. Transit workers, unfairly cited as a problem, have made more than $34 million in concessions in healthcare and pensions to relieve the problem.
Unsurprisingly, politicians have likewise refused to concede to the popular position of closing loopholes for corporations and making the richest 1% pay their fair share. Instead, the budget for the Port Authority will be slashed even more, including a 35% reduction of services.
500 – 600 jobs could be lost and nearly 40 routes discontinued. Soon, up to 100 municipalities in the area will have NO service whatsoever. What little routes remain will be subject to reductions and fair hikes. Meanwhile, Corbett’s budget will give more than $800 million in tax breaks to corporations.
This disproportionately impacts those who are most vulnerable. Soon many of Pittsburgh’s disabled and elderly will not be able to travel to the grocery store, doctor’s appointments, or even church services. People who rely on the Port Authority to get to their jobs will be put under extreme stress.
Additionally, for those that are able to drive themselves will be effected by the increased congestion as they must contend more and more cars using the highways, streets and parking spaces.
In this tenuous economic “recovery” Pittsburgh cannot afford to lose essential services that prevent its citizens, who drive the economy, from reaching their jobs and local business. We need to let our politicians know that we demand that corporations and the 1% pay their fair share so that we can save transit and our economy.