About Art

The intention here is to jump-start the movement to bring a commuter rail system to the communities along the Allegheny River north of the city of Pittsburgh. Here you will find information relative to:
The case for rail transit
The existing infrastructure that supports our case.
The communities that the current Pittsburgh Light Rail System serves, non of which are in the Allegheny River Valley.

The communities to the south of Pittsburgh have a commuter rail system. We in the Allegheny River Valley north and east of the city have nothing. We already have an existing railway infrastructure on both sides of the Allegheny River Valley northeast of Pittsburgh extending to Kittaning and beyond. Yet, we have no commuter rail transit system. Why? We wish to be considered for, and included in, future plans for a commuter transit system.

The federal government, in its current stimulus package, has commiited millions of dollars for commuter rail transit systems in the state of Pennsylvania. We are asking to be included in any plans to use this money. We feel have been left out far too long.

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2 Responses to About Art

  1. I am with a group that is leading a similar effort in suburban Philadelphia, to restore a dormant rail line to the city. How much progress has your group made with the effort to start train service?

    • Fiori says:

      It has been tough sledding, but that may be because of our approach. We have served primarily as an information source, and have no actual “grass roots movement”.

      What we have done is provide a template for western Pennsylvania rail transit using the highly successful “Tr-Rail” system of south Florida which encompasses Palm Beach, Broward, and Metro-Dade counties.

      We have then shown the existing light rail system called the “T” which services parts of the city of Pittsburgh, and attempted to explain how tying in the dormant traditional rail system in to the “T” would be a “win-win” solution to our mass transit woes.

      We have documented the battle waged by the Allegheny Valley Railroad (AVR) vs. The Buncher Corporation, a real estate developer, to regain access to a right of way through Pittsburgh’s “Strip District”…which was obtained, and will most likely be appealed in the courts by Buncher.

      Our efforts to obtain a cooperative partnership with Russell Peterson, CEO of AVR have been met with a tepid response.

      This process is rife with political intrigue. Allegheny County and County Executive Dan Onorato have an extensive business relationship with The Buncher Corporation. Buncher leases office space to the county in the disputed “Strip District Area”. We have no idea to what extent, if any, this relationship influences the county’s willingness to participate in a mass transit overhaul. (Note: Buncher tore up the tracks in the disputed area and replaced them with a parking lot. All of this is documented in the blog.)

      A big obstacle to the success of this project is breaking the strangle hold the Port Authority Transit System of Allegheny County has on public transportation in our area. What we now have is an outdated bus system that uses some of the worst roads in the USA to move people in and out of the city. Our roads are a disaster. It gets worse.
      The Port Authority Transit (PAT) is top heavy with a highly paid bureaucracy, and many bus drivers earn six figure salaries. It is an open bleeding wound. Governor Rendell just this week cut loose $45,000,000.00 in federal funds to stop the bleeding…maybe. See here: Rendell’s Port Authority bailout plan still uncertain.

      If you read between the lines in the above article you can see that commissioners from adjacent counties see what we see…that the Port Authority Transit System of Allegheny County is not the answer to our regional transit needs.

      What we need here is a “new beginning”…a regional transit system that includes participation from all the counties contiguous to Allegheny County…to meet the needs of our tax paying citizens. That is what was done in south Florida…successfully. It can be done here.

      There is real work being done on this project under a cloak of secrecy, but we are not privy to it. The politicians and businessmen who have the most to gain from making the transition from a broken transit system to a regional one are meeting in back rooms in an attempt to resolve the issues. We (ART) are outsiders in the grand scheme of things.

      Due to my recent re-location to the place of my birth (Pittsburgh) after a prolonged absence living in other regions of the world I find that I am a virtual stranger in this northernmost city of Appalachia. It takes time to gain the trust of the locals. We have generated a lot of interest, but have no real plan of action beyond keeping people informed as best we can.

      We appreciate your interest and wish you success in bringing the prospect of a similar solution to metropolitan Philadelphia’s mass transit needs.

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