Pittsburgh's public transit crisis affects CMU

Over the past few weeks, University President Jared Cohon and student government President-elect Jake Flittner have both talked about addressing transportation around Pittsburgh, which is increasingly becoming a concern to the campus community. The Port Authority’s recent 15 percent service cuts are making travel to school, the grocery store, and other places difficult for students, faculty, staff, and the city at large who depend on public transportation services. We think it is extremely important that the leaders at the university continue to address this issue.

Students at Carnegie Mellon are required to pay a Port Authority fee every semester, which automatically invests each student in the services that Port Authority provides. This semester, each student paid $46 for use of the city’s bus services. While we feel that this fee is currently justified because we can recoup the cost of our bus pass within 15 trips, cuts to the bus service may begin to infringe on its convenience. Since first-year students are prohibited by campus policy from having a car on campus, and most other students do not have a car because of parking expenses, it seems that most students are dependent on the Port Authority buses as their main transportation option.

Cohon, in an open forum with staff three weeks ago, relayed that he was personally working with Port Authority to ensure continued service around Carnegie Mellon’s campus. In particular, he mentioned that he was focusing on peak travel times, including eastbound transit on Forbes Avenue on weekday afternoons. If cuts to Port Authority routes around campus continue, Cohon said he would even consider increasing shuttle service during peak hours.

Given the current economic state and a history of Port Authority cuts, it seems likely that Carnegie Mellon students will see a drop in the service around campus, rather than the hoped-for increase. Without additional funding, bus routes will continue to be combined or removed, and the buses on each route will become more sparse. As Cohon stated in his address to faculty and staff, public transportation cannot survive unless it is subsidized. We believe that Cohon has the correct perspective; Pittsburgh’s public transportation needs additional support. Carnegie Mellon’s student body can do little more than show the administration that transportation is an issue the students care about. However, student support might be enough to make a substantial change.