This seems to be driven by a recent report by the Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group, which recently published a report on improving public transit. Sadly, it's a report that has been issued by other state PIRGs and has no specific solutions for Pittsburgh, though the PIRG has advocated light rail in Oakland. Joe Grata in the Post-Gazette covered the release of the report.
The real question is why does Onorato want a futuristic automated system? What's wrong with having people operate it? Oh, right:
The transit contingency planning session will brief attendees on the Port Authority of Allegheny County's labor negotiation process and route restructuring plans to help companies prepare for service disruptions that could create problems for commuting employees.
That's right, more planning for a transit strike from the Allegheny Conference on Community Development. No foolin'.