Current mood: determined
Good evening. My name is Stuart Strickland, and I live in McCandless Township. Thank you for the opportunity to speak.
I ride the Perry Highway and Robinson buses, both of which are eliminated entirely in the January cuts. Maybe I can bicycle 15 miles each way in January, since for me, buying a car right now is out of the question. I don't think bicycling 30 miles in the snow and dark each day is going to be a viable option for most riders, though.
Anyone who has been following this story with an open mind for almost 20 years, like me, knows that the real problem is in Harrisburg, not in how Port Authority runs its bus system. This hearing, like the ones I spoke at in 1992, 2001, 2002 and 2004, is merely a required step to provide riders with a means to vent. I doubt you have heard any responsible new ideas for finding $47 million right quick to stave off these cuts, and even if I could give you funding suggestions, it would be pointless, as they are not yours to implement.
I do have a message, however. There is one big thing PAT can and should do, and that is to properly educate the public what the real issues are and are not, and what PAT can and cannot do. I know you've tried to do this, but the message is not getting through to people. Would you like to know why? It is this:
The media and power brokers in this town have gone to great lengths, over many years, to misinform the public. Countering this is within your power. To go along with this, I further suggest PAT develop a tougher hide and a stiffer edge. I would love to see someone on staff, other than Steve Bland, go in front of a TV news camera after some politician or media mogul or blowhard from a think tank spouts forth some typical anti-transit blather and say "What you said is not correct and you know it," and then count by count, take them apart.
In 20 years of following Port Authority, I have never seen this happen. Instead, it remains silent or issues a meek press release. Get tougher, Port Authority. Stand up for yourselves. Tell the public what the real facts are. And that won't cost you a cent.