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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Is the UPMC Line Coming?

County Chief Executive Dan Onorato (running for Governor of Pennsylvania) has put out a request for submissions to create a private-public partnership Oakland to Downtown public transit option and Oakland Circulator. Obviously, it's an election year. After all, it's been 4 years since Onorato created the panel that eventually became the county Transportation Action Partnership. But who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth. From the official website, the panel hasn't decided on the final transportation mode. It could be people movers, light rail, or bus rapid transit. On registering and logging into the site, you receive access to more official study documents than you can shake a stick at. There will be a "web based information conference" on March 1. We'll see if it's just bloggers and journalists that are listening.

I'm sure it's just a bureaucratic coincidence that the Final Report of the Transportation Action Partnership was produced in July of 2009, but the official request for private partners was not released until this week - 8 months later and in the heart of election season. But seriously, I'll be a turncoat and vote for Dan Onorato for governor if by the election, a plan is decided upon, money is in place, and a schedule is produced to have a real transportation system in place between Oakland and Downtown with a ground-breaking in 2011.

In Cleveland, the University Hospital is a proud partner of the bus rapid transit system, the hospital bought the naming rights to the bus system and called it the "HealthLine". This system has been very popular recording a 47% increase in ridership over their previous incarnation. Imagine the decrease in traffic and parking woes if 47% more people took public transit to Oakland. What better way for UPMC to truly show their commitment to this region than to put some major moolah into connecting the iconic Steel Tower UPMC building to their multitude of hospitals in Oakland. When will we see the UPMC Line?


Schultz said...

A while back (2007) I suggested on this here blog that non-profits like UPMC work with the city and region by partnering on things like light rail or streetcar lines. A contact of mine at the county economic development group said that the one thing preventing this from becoming reality is that public-private partnerships weren't legal in PA (at least at that time they were not). Have the laws changed since then?

illyrias said...

According to Lynn Heckman, county assistant development director for transportation initiatives:
"the group will push for state legislation allowing public-private partnerships and authorizing a new city-county entity, similar to the Sports & Exhibition Authority, to oversee the project."

"Public-private partnerships have been pitched by Gov. Ed Rendell and others as a way to fund transportation and infrastructure improvements across the U.S. at a time of scarce government resources. They have been used overseas for decades."

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10055/1038099-53.stm#ixzz0gTyaUL0Z

Schultz said...

Funny - Lynn was the individual who told me about the ban on public-private partnerships. We were working on the transportation plan wiki thing at the time. Thanks!