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ACCESS Riders Avoid Cuts Temporarily

State and federal funding prevent the cuts from happening for at least another year.

Hold the phone.

Devastating cuts facing ACCESS riders will not occur in September thanks to a special funding arrangement made possible by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and two federal programs that benefit transit riders with disabilities, according to a news release from Port Authority of Allegheny County.

Port Authority's Board of Directors on Friday unanimously voted to accept the funding and rescind plans that would have reduced hours and service area starting on Sept. 2.

Meanwhile, conversation focused on resolving broader transportation funding issues and the are ongoing and involve officials from the state, county, Port Authority and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85.

The ACCESS funding was made available through the federal Job Access and Reverse Commute and New Freedom programs, both of which are matched by the state.

The Port Authority Board voted to amend its current budget and accept $3.65 million from the state and federal sources, ensuring ACCESS service will remain stable through Sept. 1, 2013.

"This will make a tremendous difference for people with disabilities living outside the Port Authority service area who depend on ACCESS," said Lucy Spruill, an ACCESS rider and the public policy director for United Cerebral Palsy/Community Living and Support Services. "This will allow those riders to leave their homes for work, health care and to enjoy meaningful lives.

"We very much appreciate the efforts of County Executive (Rich) Fitzgerald, the Allegheny County legislative delegation, as well as PennDOT, Port Authority and ACCESS. We look forward to continuing to work together to preserve public transportation for all the citizens of Allegheny County."

The funding is a temporary solution for ACCESS riders. If no longterm solution is in place by Sept. 1, 2013, ACCESS service reductions may take effect then.

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