FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Chelsa Wagner
Wagner PAT reform bill wins bipartisan passage
HARRISBURG, June 7 – A proposal authored by state Rep. Chelsa Wagner, D-Brookline, to add balance and accountability to the board of directors of the Port Authority of Allegheny County was passed by an overwhelming bipartisan majority of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives today.
"After more than four years of advocating for these reforms, the House has passed this bill at a critical time for the future of transit," Wagner said. "We cannot expect to be able to restore and expand transit service if we do not change the way that PAT operates."
Wagner has authored legislation to reform the PAT board in each of her three terms in the state House. Her proposal, contained in House Bill 1304, would expand the board from nine to 11 members, adding five members appointed by state leaders while retaining a majority of members appointed by the county executive. All members of the board would be required to be Allegheny County residents.
"State government, which provides greater than 60 percent of the Port Authority's funding, cannot ensure true accountability, efficiency and equity in the system unless it is at the table," Wagner said. "Only when county residents and state leaders alike have faith in the authority can we begin to move toward the transit system our region needs."
A recent study by the Brookings Institution rated transit service in Pittsburgh as below average even before the latest round of service cuts in March.
"No metropolitan area can thrive without a healthy public transit system as its foundation," Wagner said. "Multiple independent analyses have cited the need to balance appointments to the PAT board between the county and the state. A diversity of viewpoints on the governing body is essential for any organization, and especially one as vital to the well-being of our citizens and our region as the Port Authority."
Wagner urged the state Senate to act on the legislation as soon as possible.
"While both chambers are immersed in the state budget process, passing this bill will illustrate that smart reform can both ensure better use of public money and improve services," Wagner said. "The Senate should act quickly on this bill to put these reforms in action."