Archive for January, 2012

PATransit Tuesday: The beginning of The End

As you’ve probably heard by now, unless some last minute funding appears, PAT will be making huge cuts (again).  PAT outlines the situation here on their blog.

But here’s another facet of the funding problem, it’s not just public transportation that is struggling, but all transportation funding, meaning loss of money for road repairs, construction and upkeep (think, bridge repair, pothole filling, etc).  The Roundabout, a blog from the Post Gazette covers some of the reaction to that news here.  And here, the Walkabout makes the economical case for funding public transportation.

These are major cuts, and thinking about PAT not operating a lot of these routes is strange.  ACCESS, the largest system of its kind in the country will also see major cuts and fare increases.  The “Death Spiral” of public transportation is talked about frequently: prices go up, ridership goes down, forcing fares to go up and cuts to be made, and it continues the cycle over and over again.

Has PAT been in a death spiral for a while now?  Probably, but I’ve been able to think happy thoughts and deal with changes.  The former Governor came in at the last moment and found funding, keeping these current cuts at bay, but come June 1, the new fiscal year starts, plunging the system into crisis once more.  And let us not forget, the loss of public transportation affects everyone, Parkways will be more congested, parking even more scarce.

This all comes at a very strange time as well.  Gov. Corbett has promised to look at transportation funding soon (maybe February), and if there is some money that can be found (unless it’s going to tax breaks for Marcellus Shale drillers of course), the whole situation can be avoided.   Additionally, we are on the verge of the North Shore Connector opening (funded by Capital money, which can’t go to operational).

While I know it can’t happen, nor do I understand why, if PAT could operate on a deficit, I think they may have some time to get back on their feet.  I think that funding is in place to offer free rides to the North Shore (just to the first station I think), and I think that that will begin to open people’s eyes to transit, riding the bus has for me.

I started riding the bus because I hated dealing with the Parkway East.  But now, I always consider transit when I am leaving the house, or going someplace after work.  If I can do it via transit, I do.  And I think that more and more people are getting into that mindset, at least slowly.  And it will be a shame to see the Busways and T tracks go dark and unused with the death of PAT.

Food update

So, a week or so ago, a friend and I headed to Sammy’s Kebab House in Monroeville, and it was awesome.  To be fair, it looks kind of shady from the outside, and is attached to the very, very shady Sunrise Motel (next to where Willie’s moved to, the old Shakeford and Maxwell’s).  Ignore those facts and go eat there.

The decor is a mix of Egyptian and Palestinian (it was former a Palestinian restaurant I believe), but quite surprisingly, our waitress was a totally Yinzer (said in only the nicest way).  We got an appetizer, two loaves of bread, which was almost exactly like my grandmother makes, just a little thinner, and then two different entrees to share.

The food was a great mix of middle eastern food, and for one entree we stayed safe and ordered the chicken kebabs.  The chicken was juicy and really tender, so highly recommended.

And then we adventured a little bit, and ordered the goat.  Honestly, I expected it to be a bit gamey, but it was tender and delicious.  It came out in a stew-like presentation, pieces of what I think were vertebra in a spicy sauce, along with other chunks of meat.  It was a little spicier than I expected, but I don’t deal well with spice to begin with, so I’m not the best judge.

While we were paying, I asked where someone even gets goat, thinking maybe there was a butcher somewhere in the East End I was unaware of, as it turns out, they are able to get some of their more exotic cuts of meat from Restaurant Depot.

The entrees were big, and we ended up taking a lot of food home, if you get a chance, check it out, it’s worth the trip.  I’m going to go again so I can get some pics of the food.

Civic Arena water main break

During the demolition of the Civic Arena, something fell inside, cutting open a water line.  Water is flooding down Bedford and over the ramp, dripping down onto the Crosstown Blvd.

Camera crews are on the scene, and parts of the Hill District are without water.  More details as I find them out, but be careful around Uptown, as this freezes, it’s going to get really ugly.

Update: The city water authority is still working, and having trouble stopping the water.  Our building is closing as we have no water, and are not expected to until at least five eight.

Igloo Watch: 1-18

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PATransit Tuesday: Shelters going green

 

Bus Shelters in East Liberty are turning green: much like some of the skyscrapers in downtown.  Plants were put onto the roof of a bus shelter on Penn Avenue:

At the time, Loralyn called the concept “putting little hubs of biodiversity” right where people can see what a green roof does, from reducing storm water runoff to attracting butterflies.

Last month, the green roof was installed, with educational signage encouraging you to look up

A workshop is scheduled for January 26th if you would like to learn more.

Get your grub on

It’s Pittsburgh Restaurant Week.  Are you looking for some friends to go out with?  Check out Grub With Us.

The site is pretty simple, you sign up, and either join a group, or find a group already set up.  You make a reservation for a restaurant, pay and then show up and eat and socialize.  Pretty simple, and you’ll get to meet some new people, hopefully eat at some new restaurants, and enjoy a good night out.

Check it out here, and find some new friends and eats!

Pittsburgh restaurant week

January 16-22 is Pittsburgh restaurant week.  At least 30 restaurants around Pittsburgh are running specials, check out the list here.

It’s a great week to try out new restaurants and see all the great food Pittsburgh has to offer.  And the awesome thing is that there are restaurants participating in downtown, as well as all over the rest of the city, so you have a lot of options.

If you’re looking for more to read about this week, check out the list of other participating bloggers here.  You can also check out the site to make online reservations and find out how to win free meals!

I was invited to a kick-off dinner on Tuesday, but I also have tickets to a pre-release screening of the movie Haywire, so I’m not sure which way I’m going yet, but I’m going to try to get to some new restaurants throughout the week, that’s for sure.

Find out more here, enjoy the good eats!

PATransit Tuesday: Push for BRT

PAT has been building up to its new expansion into Bus Rapid Transit, and they’ve launched a new website to promote and explain the concept.

The new website talks about the benefits, although it does not have many concrete plans yet, but hopefully it will be fleshed out soon.  Although it does mention that they are looking at first taking BRT to Oakland via the Forbes/Fifth Corridor.

I’ve been skeptical about the BRT in the past, and I’m still not sold on the fact that we’ll be able to get it to effectively work.  But here’s hoping.

Anti-Nicotine push

A health care system in central Pennsylvania is now testing its employees for nicotine use:

Geisinger Health System in central Pennsylvania announced this week that it will test all new job applicants for nicotine use beginning in February, and those who test positive will not be hired. Then, beginning in 2013, the Geisinger’s health insurance arm will charge a higher premium for current employees who acknowledge that they smoke or chew tobacco.

I can understand trying to encourage a tobacco-free environment, especially for a health-care company.  But I have to say, I think that they are overstepping their bounds by not hiring those who use tobacco products.  Since they’re already going to be charging a higher premium to those who use tobacco products, which seems reasonable to me, I don’t understand why they wouldn’t hire new employees.
I don’t know, let me know what you think in the comments.

Move over Portland

Also making its rounds on the internet is this awesome article, telling Portland to move over.  While they may be the hipster capital of the country, Pittsburgh is all those good qualities, in a non-ironic, genuine way:

Portland has overextended its welcome as the destination for hipsters who want to find themselves, while frolicking in beautiful scenery and reasonable rents,” says Hesse. “Pittsburgh is reasonable-rents, nice scenery, nice downtown, and the people are, in general, just far less insufferable.

Check out the whole article here.

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