Port Authority CEO Steve Bland issued a personal apology to all riders who were affected by last weekend’s North Shore Connector Delays.
“Without a doubt everyone at Port Authority, from our rail operators to our operations management, from myself and our board of directors, think that was inexcusable and cannot be allowed happen again,” he said.
Last weekend several operators called off from work, leaving people trying to get to the Pittsburgh Marathon, Pirates game and a concert at Stage AE waiting for up to 45 minutes for trains. Short- and long-term actions will now be put in place to avoid the massive delays that resulted. Bland said extra trains will run Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday, to accommodate crowds from the Pirates games and other downtown events.
“Looking longer-term as to what we are going to be doing for rail, we are going to be increasing the number of operators we have for the rail system,” said Bland, “point-blank the root cause of last weekend’s issues was a shortage of manpower, so we are adding manpower.”
Bland said the staff additions will not come at the expense of the bus system in the already cash-strapped transit system. He said the added operators are budgeted positions that haven’t been filled yet. Bland added that the Port Authority, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, and union representatives are working to ensure the system remains reliable.
“Part of this issue is making sure that we ramp up not just for a Pirate’s series this weekend, or a special event in a couple of weeks, it’s making sure that as we roll into football season, and as we roll into next year and the year after that people realize this as an asset,” said Bland.
County Executive Fitzgerald and Bland fielded questions about funding the extra operators, and said the investment is worth it for the growing rail system. Bland said new operators are currently being trained, with more to be trained in the coming weeks and months.
“If a public transportation system isn’t safe and reliable, it’s nothing,” said Bland.