Bill Peduto, a grown-up, will be Pittsburgh’s next mayor and he clearly has a better brain than his predecessors, which, unfortunately, isn’t much of a compliment.
But instead of seeing if he can break the modern mayoral record for getting laid in office, Peduto is doing some thinking/hinting/promising about what he might do when he becomes the 734th straight Democrat since 1934 to take over Pittsburgh’s City Hall.
Peduto has been talking about tinkering with the bus stops downtown to relieve congestion on the sidewalks. Businesses are complaining about all those unsightly humans standing around on corners waiting for a government megabus to lumber along. (I suspect that the skin color of many of those bus riders might have something to do with the bizmen’s concern, but that’s because I am a cynical ex-newspaper guy.)
Now that I don’t have to slave at a job at the PG or Trib, I rarely see downtown. (I hear the Twin Transit Tunnel to Nowhere is done. And that Market Square has been rejuvenated and its population of drug salesmen, homeless and mentally disturbed people has been reduced to a just a handful so that everyone can go to the fancy new restaurants.)
The City of Pittsburgh — like so many rust belt towns — continues to be crippled by the bad politics, poor leadership and stupid ideas that helped its decline. As far as I can tell, that isn’t going to ever change in my lifetime or my kids’.
Let’s hope Bill Peduto proves me wrong.
Meanwhile, as part of my never-ending quest to bring more human and economic freedom to a shrinking city population that has been tortured for decades by too much government, I offered Mayor-to-be Bill this advice on Facebook about what he should do about the transit scene downtown and elsewhere:
Please, Mayor-to-be Bill.
Don’t tinker with the Port Authority bus stops/schedules. Blow up the city’s current government public transit monopoly (figuratively, of course, dear NSA). Get the county/state/feds to deregulate it, privatize it, defund it, outlaw it, whatever, in the long run. But first ban all of its gargantuan lumbering 40-foot-plus buses from the city limits and then declare Pittsburgh an open transit city. Open up the taxi and bus markets in downtown and Oakland and especially in the neighborhoods that are poor and have been un-served by Yellow Cab for 75 years. Invite anyone with a valid driver’s license and insurance to operate a minibus or a cab or a rickshaw downtown — without subsidies or privileged territories. Decriminalize and publicize the jitney drivers, who have served the city’s citizens far far better than Yellow Cab’s obscenely expensive and religiously awful “service.” Praise and encourage and welcome transit entrepreneurs, not transit bureaucrats and intermodal planners who should be working in Moscow, circa 1983, not Pittsburgh 2013. Tell the county and state lawmakers that you want Pittsburgh to become a model city that wants to break up the clumsy, expensive, inefficient socialized transportation systems U.S. cities take for granted and perpetuate. Encourage maximum economic freedom for transit. It’s radical. But if the market can give us all the shoes we need, all the bad TV we can watch and $30 Megabus rides to New York, it can give Pittsburgh a decent ground transportation that doesn’t include $70 cab rides from downtown to the airport and too little cab service to poor people. The transit unions, the pro-government transit media (especially the PG and City Paper), the transportation “experts” and other entitled government bus interests, including riders, will cry. But in a year there will more affordable ways to move around in the city than anyone can imagine. It’ll take balls, Mr. Mayor-to-be, but it might make the city famous for something other than having North America’s slowest light rail system …