Pittsburgh Drink Tax

So the drink tax went through in Pittsburgh. It’s 10% added to every poured beverage of an alcoholic nature, and the funds are to be used, at least in part, to help fund the Port Authority.

First, let it be known to the record and otherwise that the Pittsburgh Port Authority is a sad state of a company. It is widely held that they are poorly managed and as a very regular bus rider I can attest that to a holy host of things wrong with the mass transit system. A few small changes could save the Port Authority a ton of cash, such as getting an automated system to deal with route questions, which are currently handled by live operators. That’s right, want to know when your bus is coming? Call the Port Authority (only during 9 to 5 business hours of course) and wait on hold until an operator is free. During rush hour you typically just get a busy signal and after hours you’re out of luck. An automated system would cost money up front, but save money in the long run and provide better service. Also, eliminate the dozens of nearly identical routes in exchange for a wider, more flexible route system. Allegedly, the Port Authority hasn’t really done rider surveys in a long while, though one can’t imagine they have a complete lack of data on this.

Regardless, the drink tax is here and it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. Good for it. The tax is expected to raise $30 million for the Port Authority. So come next January 1st there better be a serious improvement in the Port Authority. If they can’t run the place with this extra cash, I believe we have no recourse other than to condem Mr. Onorato and the higher ups at the Port Authority to using their own transit system as their sole means of transportation. Maybe then they’d get around to sorting out the real issues, a fat cat system, instead of relying on restaurants and drinkers who may or may not even ride the bus to fund their blunders.

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