Saturday, September 28, 2013

1st Meeting of Reconstituted PAT Board

Two trains in the recently constructed North Side Subway Station of Pittsburgh's Port Authority of Allegheny County transit system, located a few blocks southwest of Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science. (Image Source: )

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

 On Friday morning, the newly reconstituted Board of Directors of the Port Authority of Allegheny County (PAT), Pittsburgh's public transit system, met for the first time.

Created nearly 50 years ago, in March of 1964, PAT's Board of Directors was originally composed of 12 members, all appointed by the County of Allegheny. Originally, these appointments were made by the Allegheny County Commissioners. However, with the approval of a home-rule charter, which took effect 2000 January 1, appointments to all authorities and other agencies are now made by a County Executive with the advice and consent of the County Council.

About 25 years ago, the Pennsylvania General Assembly changed the Second Class County Port Authority Act, reducing the PAT Board membership from 12 to 9 members, all still appointed by the County of Allegheny.

This year, the Pennsylvania General Assembly made another change in PAT Board composition. As the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provides a large subsidy to Port Authority Transit, members of the General Assembly felt that they should have some representation on the PAT Board. So effective this month, the PAT Board now has 11 members, with the following appointments to the Board:

* The County Executive appoints 6 members, with the advice and consent of County Council.
* Appontiment by the Governor of Pennsylvania (Republican Party) (this seat is currently vacant)
* Appointment by the leadership of the majority caucus in the State Senate (Republican Party)
* Appointment by the leadership of the minority caucus in the State Senate (Democratic Party)
* Appointment by the leadership of the majority caucus in the State House of Representatives (Republican Party)
* Appointment by the leadership of the minority caucus in the State House of Representatives (Democratic Party)

The Friday morning meeting was short, with the election of new Board officers being the primary agenda item.

Robert Hurley, who is the Senior Deputy Director of the County's Department of Economic Development, was elected Chairman of the PAT Board. He succeeds Jeffrey Letwin as Chairman who, like Mr. Hurley, was also reappointed to the Board as a County appointee.

Tom Donatelli, from the Town of McCandless, was elected Vice-Chairman. State Senator Jim Brewster, who had previously been Mayor of the City of McKeesport, was elected Board Secretary. And, Connie Parker, who is President of the Pittsburgh branch of the NAACP was elected Treasurer.

Long-time public transit advocate Glenn A. Walsh addressed the new PAT Board, during the public comments section, at the beginning of the meeting:

Statement before                                    Glenn A. Walsh
Board of Directors,                                P.O. Box 1041
Port Authority of                                   Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041 U.S.A.
Allegheny County:                                 Telephone: 412-561-7876
Welcome New and                                  Electronic Mail: < >
Returning Board Members                     Web Site: < >
2013 September 27                                  Blog: < >

Good morning. I am Glenn A. Walsh, 633 Royce Avenue, Mt. Lebanon, a regular Light Rail and bus rider who has chosen not to drive a highway motor vehicle since 1985, to help save energy, protect the environment, and reduce city traffic congestion. I have been an active transit advocate for more than 35 years, including 3 terms on the Allegheny County Transit Council as a Charter Member. Today, the views expressed by me are my own and do not reflect those of any organization. 

I want to welcome each new and returning member of the Board of Directors of the Port Authority of Allegheny County. As I am sure you are aware, your new position comes with difficulties, and very possibly future controversies. Thank you for your willingness to spend your time and energy for the benefit of the future of public transportation in Allegheny County. 

Unlike perhaps a century ago, today most people do not use public transit. Most of these non-transit users do not understand that they still derive benefits from a good public transit system. These benefits include less traffic congestion and an overall more efficient transportation system, greater opportunities for economic development, as well as more efficient use of our energy resources and a less polluted environment. And, with the continuing development of the Port Authority’s Light Rail Transit system, the shorter commute times by rail may be a benefit that even non-riders could find of value.

I ask that you use your new position to explain to the general public the many benefits everyone receives having a good public transit system in Allegheny County.

Of course, the first order of business is to work towards passage of a long-overdue statewide, transportation funding bill, one which appreciates the importance of public transportation in the urban and suburban regions of Pennsylvania.

I wish you the best of luck in your work on behalf of the Port Authority of Allegheny County. Please let me know if there is any way I can help you in these important efforts.


An anecdote: The last sentence of Mr. Walsh's public statement said:

"Please let me know if there is any way I can help you in these important efforts."

Well, immediately following his election as PAT Board Chairman, Robert Hurley jokingly exclaimed, "Where's Glenn? I need your help !"

Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.

News Stories on the Friday meeting ---

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
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Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < >
Electronic Mail - < >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor/Author: < >
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Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < >
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Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
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* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
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* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < >
* Public Transit:
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