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Roundtable meeting held to discuss concerns over public transit

Roundtable meeting held to discuss concerns over public transit
Roundtable meeting held to discuss concerns over public transit 02:38

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - If you take the bus like Kate Burke, you know how hard it is to get from place to place on public transit.

"It takes my time, and I have limited options as to where I can get," said Burke. That's why today's roundtable is meant to hear people like Burke and make a change. 

"We really do hope legislators step up and provide the funds for better services because there's a lot of people in the greater Pittsburgh area that need the bus service," Burke said.

This public meeting comes as PRT cut 54 bus and "T" routes last Sunday. It typically adjusts schedules three times a year, and PRT said it's to make sure there are enough drivers for the promised routes. 

So, Pittsburghers for Public Transit organized this event to address a growing statewide problem. 

Laura Chu Wiens is the Executive Director of the non-profit.

"We want to see a transit system for restoring that level of quality service that we had twenty years ago to meet everybody's needs, and we need legislators to play their role in funding that service," she said.

Chu Wiens said public transportation issues are all due to inadequate investment. According to the non-profit, more than 37% of PRT's total service has been cut in our region in the last 20 years. 

In a room full of 12 legislators, they're listening to how changes have led to a limited transit system, long wait times, and services that don't run at the times people need.

"I think too often we think of public transit as an urban issue. As someone who represents suburban communities, I really want to learn more about how we can be an integrated region. Because that's when we have a thriving economy for everyone," Rep. Arvind Venkat said. Venkat represents the 30th district.

"In the general assembly, Governor Shapiro's budget message was spot on. He's proposing a significant increase in public transportation across the state, about $283 million," said Sen. Jim Brewster of the 45th district.

In a release, PRT said it has been short-staffed since COVID-19, even though it is offering hiring bonuses. Now, Pittsburghers for Public Transit said it will follow up with legislators to make sure lawmakers provide more operating money, making public transportation, for everyone like you and Burke, stronger.

"Hopefully, we can have more frequent and reliable service," Burke said.

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