Current mood: angryIf I had to reduce all my complaints over 17 years about Port Authority of Allegheny County to a single item, it would be this: PAAC does not speak up loudly and forcefully enough when to do so would serve the interests of its customers and itself. Instead it tones down its message, or times or words it in such a mannner as to leave less of an impression. This is done, I have come to believe, to appease politicians as well as business and labor leaders at all levels, and to avert the negative press that often follows taking a principled stand.
In the latest case, Simon Properties Group, owner of Ross Park Mall, Century III Mall, and South Hills Village, has ordered bus stops moved away from convenient mall entrances, to areas distant, dangerous and difficult to access. Would you park your car in the most distant space possible, even on the other side of the road circling the mall?
SPG did this because it does not want bus riders' business -- something about undesirables, lower-income, lower-class citizens. This fact has been independently corroborated (from a former inner-office employee), and as such it proclaims blatant race and class discrimination. The fact that it also endangers its rider clientele, especially the elderly, the disabled, and small children, appears to be lost on mall management. Who takes the heat for this? Port Authority, of course.
Two can play at this game, however. To drive this point home, Port Authority can and should terminate all service to these three malls unless and until curbside service can be guaranteed. While this would surely upset people, not the least of whom would be existing riders willing to tolerate the malls' stupidity, PAAC needs to make clear whose decision prompted the action, and whose would restore service.
The last I checked, riders' money is just as green as that of customers arriving in cars. Thus, if PAAC cannot deliver its clientele there safely and conveniently, it should not go there at all, and most importantly, not be afraid to say why.