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O'Hara, Aspinwall, Sharpsburg decry cuts in transit service

Mary Ann Thomas
| Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012

Officials from O'Hara, Aspinwall and Sharpsburg plan to join other representatives in a coalition of Pittsburgh-area communities to protest the proposed cuts in Port Authority bus service to downtown Pittsburgh.

The 37 member towns of the Congress of Neighboring Communities, or Connect, Pittsburgh region, are drafting a letter decrying the proposed bus service cuts, including one route serving Sharpsburg. Connect is organized by the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.

Connect members, which include representatives from the City of Pittsburgh and the communities that share a border with the city, met in Sharpsburg last week to work on a number of municipal issues collaboratively.

Officials from O'Hara and Aspinwall couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

Protesting the Port Authority cuts is just one mission of Connect. It has a broader agenda, which includes such things as transportation, infrastructure and economic development needs in the urban area around the city.

Jan Barbus, Sharpsburg borough secretary, reported to council that Connect is drafting a letter to the editor for local newspapers to address the Port Authority cuts.

As the Port Authority proposal cuts bus service entirely for a number of neighborhoods, Sharpsburg will still have bus service, but less of it.

"We will still have one bus route coming through town instead of two," Barbus said. "People will have to rearrange their schedules and it will become difficult to get to work or to go downtown to events."

Barbus stressed that Connect has been focusing on transportation issues for the last two years.

"We saw that the roads need to be repaired and the bridges," she said.

"The Port Authority, which is the backbone of transportation in the area, needed to be looked at," she said. "We need to sit down and think about what will happen if they go away."

Barbus said Connect members have met with the Port Authority about concerns for public transportation to the city's neighboring communities, but she said, "There have really been no solutions."

Port Authority spokesman Jim Ritchie confirmed the two sides have been discussing the issue.

"Unfortunately, unless the state addresses transportation funding sooner rather than later, there are going to be a lot of communities across Allegheny County left with little or no transit service," he said. "For communities like Sharpsburg and those in the Allegheny Valley, that's going to be a big change from the transit service people rely on today."

Staff writer Michael Aubele contributed to this report.

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