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June 10, 1999

Contract with PAT expected this month

Contract with PAT expected this month

Pitt's contract with the Port Authority, which allows Pitt I.D. holders free rides throughout Allegheny County, should be renewed within the next two weeks, Pitt's director of Parking and Transportation Services told the Plant Utilization and Planning (PUP) committee June 8.

Bob Harkins told PUP committee members that the Pitt-Port Authority contract is likely to run for another four years. The contract is subject to a renewal clause, which allows either party to insist on renegotiating Pitt's annual subsidy fee.

He acknowledged that the Pitt's fee would be higher than was agreed on last August for the upcoming year (Aug. 1, 1999-July 31, 2000), but declined to give specifics. Pitt was scheduled to pay $1.75 million under terms of the prior contract. The University paid $1.5 million to the Port Authority for the year ending July 31.

Harkins also said he was confident that student fees would not rise for three or four years. Students' $55 per term transportation fee helps defray costs of the service. Pitt subsidizes rides for faculty and staff.

Harkins said Pitt is negotiating with the Port Authority for increased game-day bus service once the Panthers begin playing football on the North Side, scheduled for fall 2000.

The Parking and Transportation office also is studying routes for trucks and construction vehicles to and from the Pitt Stadium site that will not cut the center of the Pittsburgh campus. "We're looking at Darragh Street/McKee Place heading toward the Boulevard of the Allies and the Parkway, and from the far side of the stadium, routes from Centre Avenue up," he said.

Harkins said he would announce new parking rates for permit holders within a month. While he acknowledged rates would go up, he expected the rise to be offset by savings from the pre-tax parking fee deduction begun in January. A 1999 amendment to the Internal Revenue Service code allows employees who use payroll deduction to take a pre-tax parking fee deduction.

PUP committee members also heard a report from a representative of the Office of Facilities Management.

Architect Randy Richardson said the six-story Multi-Purpose Academic Complex (MPAC), planned for across South Bouquet Street from the law school, is at least 8-10 months away from groundbreaking. The building is expected to open about two years after that, he said. (See related story.) The last University occupants in the buildings on the site, a segment of the Center for Instructional Development and Distance Education (CIDDE), will be relocated to the Masonic Temple in September.

In other Facilities Management news, Richardson reported:

* Outdoor furniture, similar to the wrought-iron, all-weather tables with umbrellas and chairs near the William Pitt Union, is being ordered for the Forbes Quad patio area, behind the law school and extending toward Schenley Drive. Pitt is considering allowing food vendors on the property.

PUP earlier had raised the issue of use of the space, given its proximity to the Bouquet Gardens housing project to be opened in August. Phase I of the housing plan will mean a concentration of about 200 undergraduates in the vicinity.

* Classroom renovations, seven in all, have begun in various campus buildings: Thaw Hall, Information Sciences, Forbes Quad, Frick Fine Arts, Benedum and Langley (two classrooms). Coupled with some upgrading of CIDDE facilities, the project is estimated at $1.25 million and will be completed during the summer.

* Architects and managers for the convocation/recreation center project are reviewing all aspects of the complex, including Americans with Disabilities Act-compliance and entrance and egress issues. Pitt representatives met with students to discuss potential uses for the recreation center.

* The University is studying the feasibility of extending the enclosure of the Towers lobby to the plaza surrounding the Towers buildings.

–Peter Hart

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