Jun 232016
 

PPT is excited to join up with Bike Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group to connect transportation justice and social justice advocates and discuss current struggles for mobility and access.

Join us on June 30th at the Kinsgley Association, 6435 Frankstown Ave, 6:00-8:30PM.

Speakers will share their challenges with mobility and access and we will all discuss ideas for how to achieve more equitable transportation in our region.

Together we can work together to ensure that Pittsburgh has safe, equitable, and affordable transportation systems.

Please RSVP online at the event page.

Thank you!

Jun 032016
 

On Friday May 27th, residents and riders from all over the county came together to encourage Port Authority to approve staff recommendations for service extensions.

The proposal includes adding weekend service the 89 Garfield and extending the 79 along Mount Carmel Road in Penn Hills.

Annie McGowan, resident of Garfield said: “Me and my mom have to depend on someone else to take us to church. A lot of senior citizens can’t get out for church activities, shopping, and meeting family and friends. Now we’ll be able to hop on the bus!”

Although we are excited to celebrate these service extensions we are committed to pushing Port Authority to restore service to all communities in need as well as the fight for more transit funding.

“The fact the kids can’t get to a college in their own neighborhood, that’s just a crime,” said Fran Lange of Ross, a member of Buses for Perry Highway. “There are a lot of senior citizens that would love to go to the library, but you can’t get there.”

Thank you to everyone who came out and addressed the board or stood with us in support!

Media coverage of the event:

Riders want Port Authority to further boost service

Proposed changes add Port Authority bus lines to Penn Hills, Garfield

Port Authority improvements don’t go far enough, advocates say

 

May 262016
 

On Friday May 27th, 830 am, outside the Wood St T station transit advocates, riders, and supporters will hold a press conference to celebrate Port Authority’s proposal for increased service in Garfield and Penn Hills. We will then attend the Port Authority board meeting at 930 am, 345 Sixth Ave, 5th floor, to ask the board to vote (in June) for the budget that includes these additions.

Over the past year, Pittsburghers for Public Transit supported three campaigns for increased bus service. Residents came together, shared their needs with elected officials, held rallies downtown, and formally made requests through Port Authority’s service guidelines. Overall, the agency received 85 distinct requests from over 1500 individuals. This demonstrates the high level of demand in our county for improved transit service.

Residents are here to celebrate the proposals for weekend service on the 89 in Garfield and the extended 79 along the Mt Carmel Rd corridor in Penn Hills. See annual service report, page 26.

These proposed changes will make a huge difference in these communities. “We are glad there is this an opportunity to expand transportation in Penn Hills because it is greatly needed. We see so many residents who struggle to get to appointments, jobs, training programs, and the store,” said Joyce Davis, from the Lincoln Park Community Center and Penn Hills NAACP.

Annie McGowan, resident of Garfield said: “Me and my mom have to depend on someone else to take us to church. A lot of senior citizens can’t get out for church activities, shopping, and meeting family and friends. Now we’ll be able to hop on the bus!”

“We would like to acknowledge all the elected officials who listened to the residents and helped highlight this need,” said Aggie Brose, Deputy Director of the Bloomfield Garfield Corporation. “We all came together and organized, and we are thrilled to see this recommendation for added service.”

The advocates and residents are also there to support all communities in the county who still need better bus service. Representatives from the Buses for Perry Highway campaign will highlight the need for more funding so that service can run along Perry Highway, north of Westview Shopping center to CCAC North, Northland Public Library, and other destinations. The campaign plans to continue to advocate for this much needed service.

We also want to commend the Port Authority for making their service planning and decision-making processes more transparent and inclusive—a model for other agencies around the country. The annual service report carefully indicates how each request for service was evaluated and helps the public understand just how many communities need more transit.

Transit advocates and supporters are calling on elected officials, public agencies, institutions, and communities to all come together to secure more funding for the Port Authority. There is 16 million dollars in the drink tax fund balance. This fund is dedicated to public transit in Allegheny County, and there is no reason a few million dollars each year could not be allocated to Port Authority’s operating budget. This would enable them to provide service to more communities in need. We must all work together to secure even more sources of funding. Buslines are lifelines, and improving our public transit system is vital to the entire region.

 

May 192016
 

 

Pittsburghers for Public Transit is thrilled to see that the Port Authority’s annual service report released today includes proposals to add transit service (see page 26). These proposals, along with the budget for 2016-2017, will be voted on by the Port Authority board in June.

The proposed expansions in service include:

-provide route 89 service in Garfield on the weekends

-expand route 79 and P17 service along Mt Carmel road on weekdays and weekends

-expand G3 service to include reverse-direction commute trips to University Blvd Park and Ride

PPT, along with the Bloomfield Garfield Corporation, supported a resident-led campaign for weekend service on the 89 in Garfield. And working with the Lincoln Park Community Center, we supported a campaign in Penn Hills for extended 79 and P17 service along Mt. Carmel Road. Hundreds of residents came together to advocate for this much needed service. PPT also supported residents in Moon Township who called for reverse service on the G3. These proposed changes will make a huge difference in these communities–providing more access to jobs, schools, grocery stores, medical appointments, and more.

“We are glad there is this an opportunity to expand transportation in Penn Hills because it is greatly needed. We see so many residents who struggle to get to appointments, jobs, training programs, and the store. This expansion would really help them,” said Joyce Davis, from the Lincoln Park Community Center and Penn Hills NAACP.

After hearing about the proposal Annie McGowan, resident of Garfield said: “Wow, that is so great! Me and my mom have to depend on someone else to take us to church. A lot of senior citizens can’t get out for church activities, shopping, and meeting family and friends. Now we’d be able to hop on the bus!”

“We would like to acknowledge all the elected officials representing Garfield who listened to the residents and helped highlight this need,” said Aggie Brose, Deputy Director of the Bloomfield Garfield Corporation. “We all came together and organized, and we are thrilled to see this recommendation for added service.”

Pittsburghers for Public Transit is disappointed to see that many communities who made requests for service, including the campaign for service along Perry Highway (to CCAC North and Northland Public Library), are not getting service extensions. Our elected officials, public agencies, institutions, and communities need to all come together to secure more funding for Port Authority. There is 16 million dollars in the drink tax fund balance. This fund is dedicated to public transit in Allegheny County, and there is no reason a few million dollars each year could not be allocated to Port Authority’s operating budget. This would enable them to provide service to more communities in need.

We also want to commend the Port Authority for making their service planning and decision-making processes more transparent and inclusive. The service report carefully indicates how each request for service was evaluated and helps the public understand how the agency responds to community requests and weighs equity as a crucial factor in their service planning.

Press coverage:

http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/10491958-74/service-east-garfield

http://www.post-gazette.com/news/transportation/2016/05/19/Port-Authority-recommends-extending-some-bus-service-in-Wilkinsburg-Penn-Hills-Garfield/stories/201605190149

Apr 292016
 

Port Authority’s board approved transit-oriented development guidelines as well as changes  to their fare policy today.

We are really excited that riders in Zone 2 will soon be paying $2.50! However, we are still concerned about the elimination of paper transfers and the implementation of a cash surcharge without the proper infrastructure that makes ConnectCards easily accessible and re-loadable.

We are also concerned about the disproportionate affect these changes might have on low-income riders.

PPT supports that Port Authority has approved TOD guidelines but insists that affordable housing be a requirement in any development near good transit.

Press coverage:

Port Authority: No more free buses, zones, cash on trains

Port Authority of Allegheny County board to vote on fare changes tomorrow

 

 

 

 

Apr 252016
 

 

April has been filled with awesome events!

PPT joined the Women and Girls Foundation in support of their Equal Pay Day Rally. We heard from ATU member Sue Scanlon, who spoke about how her membership in a union has given her access to wages equal to her male coworkers.

We also joined workers in solidarity at the Fight for $15
rally! Hundreds of community members, allies, and workers came together to say we all deserve a living wage and union rights.

Apr 042016
 

PPT was featured in a Post-Gazette article, entitled “When transit costs are included, study finds ‘affordable’ housing often isn’t” on Sunday April 3

“Our organization thinks that those communities deserve transit service. And we are concerned that more and more residents in the city of Pittsburgh cannot find affordable housing in the city, and go outside the city, where they don’t have good access to transit.”

The article quotes Darnell Jones from Groveton and Autumn Conley from Hulton Arbors.

PPT supported Groveton in their successful campaign for bus service, and we are supporting Hulton Arbors in Penn Hills in their campaign now. Last month, we called for a policy that requires transit oriented developments to include affordable housing. If you’d like to join the fight for a livable Pittsburgh for all, contact us!

Mar 222016
 

Yesterday, PPT celebrated Transit Worker Appreciation Day by visiting the Manchester Main Shop, The Rail Center, and distributing candy and thank you cards to riders in Downtown and Oakland to give to their drivers.

Thank you to all of the volunteers who made TWAD 2016 possible. Special thanks those who volunteered: UNITE HERE casino workers, Mel Packer, Jonah McAllister Erickson, Earl Pearson, Helen Gerhardt, Deepti Ramadoss, Fatema Juma, and Hannah Gerbe of Fight Back Pittsburgh.

Here are some great pictures and news coverage of the day:

twad 2016 1 twad 2016 2

twad 2016 3 twad 2016 4

KDKA coverage: Pittsburgh Celebrating National Transit Worker Appreciation Day

Mar 212016
 

Transit Worker Appreciation Day

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Pittsburghers for Public Transit (PPT) is celebrating National Transit Worker Appreciation Day on Monday March 21st. PPT encourages riders and residents to thank our bus and rail operators and maintenance workers for keeping us moving.

Pittsburghers for Public Transit is coordinating over a dozen volunteers to distribute thank you cards to transit riders, who can deliver them to their bus operators. We will also be distributing cards to maintenance workers. These cards say: “Because you rock, I roll,” and “Thanks for keeping us moving.”

On Monday March 21st, cards will be available between 12 and 1 and between 4 and 6 at Forbes and Bigelow in Oakland and between 3 and 6 outside Wood St station downtown.

Riders can print out their own cards at this website:www.transitdriverday.org

We appreciate the opportunity to thank and honor the 2,000 public transit workers in Allegheny County who get riders to our destinations safely. These workers are out 365 days a year in rain, snow, ice, and frigid temperatures, as well as our hot summers. Bus operators collect fares, help riders find their way, handle safety issues, keep to a strict route schedule, and manage their way through traffic—along the steep and winding streets of our region. Maintenance workers maintain, repair, and clean the rails, buses, busways, stations, etc. These workers are the backbone of our transit system, and we are grateful for the work they do each day to keep Allegheny County moving.

“The drivers deal with all the traffic so that I don’t have to.” –James Keener.

“I appreciate transit workers because they drive me to all of the places I need to go safely and stress free.” –Daisha Bernal

Social media tags: #pghlovestransitworkers, #transitworkerday, #twd, #thankyoutransitworkers, #Pgh4Pubtransit

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/474518159415869/

IMG_2562IMG_2588

Mar 172016
 

Over a dozen speakers from 10 organizations addressed the Port Authority board during their monthly meeting today. The board voted to approve leasing their property at the Castle Shannon T stop for the Shannon Transit Village development.

Post Gazette coverage of the meeting is here: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2016/03/18/Port-Authority-gives-a-go-to-controversial-apartment-development-at-Castle-Shannon-T-stop/stories/201603180208

Trib coverage is here: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/10170209-74/housing-affordable-residents

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Representatives from PPT, the Thomas Merton Center, the Hill District Consensus Group, the City County Task Force on Disabilities, the Northside Coalition for Fair Housing, the Coalition of Organized Residents in East Liberty, the Penn Hills NAACP, and the Fight for 15 campaign addressed the board on March 18th about the need for inclusive equitable development and, specifically, affordable housing near our transit hubs.

Speakers emphasized the importance of equitable transit oriented development that works to preserve, maintain, and create affordable housing near the best transit service. We understand the Port Authority is currently working on developing transit oriented development (TOD) guidelines—the first of their kind in the state of Pennsylvania. This is excellent news, and we commend the agency for not only developing them but also for including affordable housing as a key principle. We are here today to highlight how important this issue is to many residents in our county and to share why it is crucial for this to be a priority for the agency.

Pittsburghers for Public Transit board chair Jonah McAllister Erickson said, “the agency should develop a policy that requires publicly funded developments at Port Authority stations to include adequate affordable housing and to preserve and maintain affordability in communities.”

We are concerned that TOD, to date, especially in East Liberty, has not been equitable. This publicly funded project includes a development right on the busway with 360 market rate units. Those units should be available to people of all income brackets. Alethia Sims, with the Coalition of Organized Residents, says, “It is unfair that people who need public transportation the most are getting pushed farther away from it. They cannot afford the housing that was just built right next to the East Liberty busway.”

The Shannon Transit Village development at the T stop is using 12 million dollars of public funds (including community development block grants, designed for low-income communities), but it is not adequately serving the public. The development is made up of 152 units of “market rate” housing, which cost $1,150 to $1,800/month. Molly Rush, a resident of Dormont with many family members in Castle Shannon, says, “Who can afford rent that high? The development should be available to all residents of our communities.” The current average rents in Castle Shannon start at $500/month.

“Any publicly funded project in our county must work for all of us,” said Lena Germany, a McDonald’s worker and member of the Pittsburgh Fight for $15. “Creating affordable housing around transit hubs can help level the playing field by providing access to reliable transportation and better paying jobs.”

Full statement from Pittsburghers for Public Transit is here:

My name is Jonah McAllister Erickson, and I’m the Chair of PPT’s coordinating committee. Pittsburghers for Public Transit would like to commend the Port Authority for developing transit oriented development (TOD) guidelines, which we expect to be public in April. These are the first guidelines the Port Authority has ever developed, and the first in Pennsylvania, and the mid-Atlantic region. This is a very significant step and worth noting the hard work of the staff who have developed them. We also want to commend the guidelines for including affordable housing as a fundamental principle for equitable TOD.

We want to add that there should be a policy that requires Port Authority’s TOD to include affordable housing, and to preserve and maintain affordability in communities. The Port Authority—in consultation with the communities, developers, municipalities, authorities, departments—must ensure that adequate affordable housing is near the most frequent and accessible transit service.

To date, development near transit in our region has not included adequate affordable housing. For example, the East Liberty Transit Center. The Eastside Bond apartments, built right along the busway, include 360 units. Not one of them is affordable. Rentals start at 1100 for a studio and go up to 3600 for a 2 bedroom. East Liberty Place South is part of this TOD, but that only includes 61 affordable units. We are pleased to see there is now a fund being set up that is dedicated to affordable housing, but we are concerned that the huge number of units right on the busway, funded through public money, are not open to people of all income brackets. As property values go up in this neighborhood, long-time residents (many of whom are reliant on transit) need to be more protected from displacement.

The residents of Penn Plaza were evicted at the end of February. Some have found new apartments, but many were just temporarily re-located and will have to move again. Where will the residents go? Where will they be able to find housing they can afford? Either places far away with limited transit access? Or places with no transit access? They may be forced to buy a car, which costs thousands and thousands more per year than riding a bus. They may be forced to bum rides, use jitneys, or choose not to take a job or see family or go to church. They could become, in the words of the residents of a transit desert, “prisoners in their own homes.”

Casy Stelitano: PPT wanted to understand how demographic shifts were happening in our region in relation to transit service. Over the last three months we have been working on an Equity Mapping Project, which tracks populations by race, income, access to a vehicle, and cost of housing. We have been focusing on racial demographic shifts, specifically looking at areas in our region that lost and gained significant amounts of African American residents. As a starting point for this research, we’re looking at decennial census data, comparing data from 2000 and 2010. (see maps and chart below)

As we mapped out our data we noticed a very obvious trend. Almost all census tracts that saw a significant decrease in African American residents were located in the city, specifically in the East End and Central Neighborhoods–areas that are walkable, key transit corridors with frequent service (where service comes up to every 12 mins in both directions, 19 hours a day, 7 days a week). Similarly, areas that saw significant increases in African American population were in the county, far away from frequent service and transit hubs. These findings help demonstrate the need for equitable transit oriented development. A lot of the African American residents who are no longer in the city and are now living in the county have limited to no access to decent transportation, which is necessary for them to get to jobs, schools, medical care, art and cultural events, grocery stores, and friends and family. Many residents have come to you and shared personal stories of suffering and hardship due to poor transit in their communities. Port Authority must play a role in making sure that any development near a transit hub includes options for everyone.

The Port Authority is currently involved in three developments along the T in the South Hills, and none of these plans include affordable housing. Today, you will be voting on whether or not to approve a lease of your property at the Castle Shannon T stop. The Shannon Transit Village development will include 152 residential units, and all of them are “market rate.” They cost 1150 to 1800, when the current average rents for Castle Shannon residents is 500-1500 dollars. Any development near the T should not only preserve affordability but also be available to low and moderate income residents. The project is using 12 million dollars, or 28%, of public funding. This includes community development block grants, which are federal grants to benefit low to moderate income communities. We understand the project involves improvement of public infrastructure, but the residential development should also benefit the public and not just those who can afford the market rate.

We need to ensure that the existing infrastructure, especially the busways and the T are accessible to the people who need it the most. Otherwise, it hurts the agency itself. Low-income people are less likely to own cars, so they rely more heavily on transit. When they get pushed out from areas with solid transit service, Port Authority loses ridership. Then the agency has to pay more to provide service out to remote areas. PPT insists that all transit oriented development should be equitable and inclusive, and we want to support the agency in making that happen.