Thursday, July 2, 2015

More opportunity for comments on the fare system!

Here is media coverage from the fare hearings on Tuesday June 30:

Post Gazette

Tribune Review

Port Authority has provided the space for more conversation about the fare system. Here is a link to a multiple choice survey. And here is an opportunity to share more of your thoughts in writing.

Let's make sure they hear our voices!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Tell Port Authority what you think about their fares!

Do you want to tell Port Authority what you think about charging for Connect Cards and their fare policy, in general? Come speak at the public hearing on June 30th, 11 am to 1 pm, and 4 pm to 6 pm. Call 412-566-5187 to pre-register. The hearing is in the Port Authority board room, 345 Sixth Ave, Heinz Building, 5th floor.

You can also complete a survey. Here is a link to the survey and more info

Port Authority is also asking for input on potential changes to the system, including zones, how and when we pay, etc.

Here is Pittsburghers for Public Transit's current position on Port Authority fares:

June 26, 2015

PPT asserts that riders should not have to pay any more than they already do for transit service. We have one of the most expensive base fares in the country at $2.50, and the cost of using our system is a burden on many families. We are very pleased to know that Port Authority will not be raising fares this fiscal year, but we have been told that PennDot expects Port Authority to increase its fares starting July 2016. We all need to come together (riders, workers, residents, Port Authority staff and board, and elected officials) to prevent a fare increase in July 2016.

In 1975, our base fare was 40 cents. Adjusted for inflation the equivalent today would be $1.77. In 2001, the base fare was $1.60. Adjusted for inflation that is equivalent to $2.15.  Since 2001, our base fare has gone up by 56% percent, and we cannot let them be raised next year. When you factor in cost of living, asking a Pittsburgher to pay $2.50 for a one-way ride is the equivalent of asking a New Yorker to pay $5.43! New York currently has a base fare of 2.75 and is the only city in the country that charges more than Pittsburgh.

When workers make $7.25/hour, how can they be expected to get to their jobs when getting there and back with a transfer is equivalent to the money they earn in one whole hour at work?

We do support simplifying the system to make it easier for riders to use, but we want to ensure this does not involve raising the base fare. Expecting transit dependent riders to pay more is unfair and disproportionately hurts them. We commend that senior citizens ride for free (mainly through subsidies from the lottery), and we commend that people with disabilities get a reduced fare. But we think that these riders should also get reduced weekly, monthly, and annual passes. We also assert that low-income residents should get a reduced fare.

Raising the fare runs a huge risk of decreasing ridership. If residents begin to feel as if it is less expensive to drive and park, what incentive is there to take public transit? Keeping fares where they are (or lowering them) and simplifying the system will increase ridership, which ultimately increases revenue from passengers and from the state.

We assert that Port Authority should get rid of Zone 2, stop charging for transfers, and maintain the free fare zone downtown (which includes 2.5% of daily trips or 4500 rides). We assert that riders should always pay getting on for inbound trips, and pay getting off for outbound trips, including past 7 pm.

With respect to Connect Cards, we are concerned that charging a fee for them will de-incentivize their use, when we know the system overall benefits from more people using the cards. Can the Port Authority consider other ways to cover the costs of the card, through sponsorship, for example? If a fee for the Connect Card is imposed, we insist that low income riders and riders with disabilities get the cards for free.

Friday, June 26, 2015

PPT celebrates as Port Authority approves extending routes to transit deserts

This morning, dozens filled the Port Authority board room to celebrate their victory after over a year of advocating for service to transit deserts. The Port Authority board voted to adopt the July 2015 to July 2016 Operating and Capital budget. It includes 3.7 million dollars for adding service, which is approximately a 2% increase in service overall. This includes extending service on 4 routes: the 44 Knoxville to Baldwin, the 20 Kennedy to Groveton, the 56 Lincoln Place to Penn State McKeesport, and the 91 Butler to RIDC park.

Over the past year, Pittsburghers for Public Transit has supported community campaigns for service to the transit deserts in Baldwin, Groveton, and Moon. Up to 2000 residents have conducted surveys, canvassed their communities, attended meetings, made phone calls, written letters, signed petitions, met with Port Authority board and staff members and elected officials, spoken at Port Authority board meetings, and participated in demonstrations. They brought awareness to the plight of transit deserts and called for adequate transit service in their communities. Their hard work paid off today as these service extensions were approved.

Chris Kuznicki, Baldwin resident, said “We commend all the residents who worked so hard on this campaign and appreciate all the support that PPT, transit workers, and residents throughout the region have provided. We will continue to push for everyone in our county to have the transit service they need and deserve.”

“The families in Groveton appreciate that Port Authority has listened to the word of the people,” said Darnell Jones, resident of Groveton. “We’ve worked hard for this service, and now people will be able to find jobs and get to the supermarket, other stores, and doctor’s appointments.”

The service changes will take effect Sept 6, 2015.

News coverage, click here







Friday, May 29, 2015

Residents thank Port Authority for service proposals; encourage small tweaks to help more areas

Over 10 county residents spoke at the Port Authority board meeting this morning. They thanked the agency for proposing service in 4 communities, including Baldwin and Groveton. These changes will make a huge difference in people's lives, allowing them to get to school, work, the doctor, shopping centers, friends' houses, and more. Residents also made suggestions for tweaks to get service in more areas. A huge thanks to everyone who has been part of this effort!

Post Gazette coverage: click here





See below for the public comment from Jonah McAllister-Erickson, on behalf of PPT:

Pittsburghers for Public Transit and the community members we have been working with for several years were thrilled to hear that the Port Authority’s proposal for service changes next fiscal year includes extending service into transit deserts, such as Baldwin and Groveton. This proposal indicates the Port Authority’s willingness to listen to the voices of community members and to take steps to address their needs. You may have limited resources, but working toward more equity in our transit system, which has the added benefit of increasing ridership, is the right thing to do. And we commend you for taking these steps.

Darnell Jones, a Groveton resident, who isn’t able to be here today because he is at work, has said “The families in Groveton appreciate that Port Authority has listened to the word of the people. If the proposed extension of the 20 Kennedy is approved, people will be able to find jobs and get to the supermarket, other stores, and doctor’s appointments.”

As you’ve heard today, the Baldwin residents are very happy to know they could be getting service back in the community, and they are deeply grateful. They still have concerns about the residents in the Willett Ave corridor and hope that some solution can be found.

Not every community in our county is getting what they need, and we will continue to advocate with riders, workers, and residents to ensure that the staff, board, elected officials, and public can all work to have an adequate transit system for our county’s residents.

We urge you to approve these service extensions and to determine if there are still ways to make inexpensive tweaks to get service to areas in need.

We’d now like to briefly discuss the recently proposed service guidelines. We support the move toward more inclusive and transparent processes, and we also appreciate that you have created some time for public comment. You will hear comments from our members using the online form in the coming month.

Public transit agencies cannot make decisions based on cost and efficiency alone, and we are pleased to see equity as a key category in the proposed service guidelines.  Our main concern about these guidelines is the lack of clarity over how the 3 categories (equity, efficiency, and effectiveness) are weighted in decision-making. We call for the prioritization of equity, and would urge that route report cards have an equity score added to them.  We applaud the Port Authority’s recognition, in the proposed service guidelines, of the disproportionate importance public transit plays in low-income communities, and to the lives of transit dependent riders. And we expect the Port Authority to continue to go beyond the minimum requirements of Title VI and the ADA to ensure our transit system strives to connect all the different people of Allegheny County to life. Finally, we are pleased to see there is no fare hike planned for next year, which we know our riders appreciate.




Thursday, May 21, 2015

Port Authority proposes extending routes to transit deserts!

***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***

May 21, 2015
Contact: Molly Nichols
Pittsburghers for Public Transit
(412) 216-9659

Community voices heard as Port Authority proposes extending routes to transit deserts

Port Authority presented their preliminary budget for Fiscal Year 7/2015-7/2016 to the Board’s Planning and Stakeholder Relations Committee this morning. It includes 3.7 million dollars for adding service, which is approximately a 2% increase in service overall. This includes extending service on 4 routes. The routes include the 44 Knoxville to Baldwin, the 20 Kennedy to Groveton, the 56 Lincoln Place to Penn State McKeesport, and the 91 Butler to RIDC park.

Over the past year, Pittsburghers for Public Transit has supported community campaigns for service to the transit deserts in Baldwin and Groveton, and these proposed changes are a result of transit riders, workers, and residents coming together to advocate for the transit service they need and deserve. We are thrilled to see this impact, and we will continue to work to get adequate service to all communities.

Karen Smith, senior Baldwin resident, said “The Buses for Baldwin steering committee is proud of all the residents who gave their time and energy to help the Port Authority understand the importance of public transit in our community."

The families in Groveton appreciate that Port Authority has listened to the word of the people,” said Darnell Jones, resident of Groveton. “If the proposed extension of the 20 is approved, people will be able to find jobs and get to the supermarket, other stores, and doctor’s appointments.”

The proposed changes will be voted on by the Port Authority Board in June, and if approved, would take effect in September of 2015.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Public meetings on transit between Downtown and neighborhoods East

Next week, the City is hosting public meetings to discuss proposed transit improvements and community development between Downtown and Oakland. This is an important opportunity for transit riders, transit workers, and residents to share ideas, concerns, and questions.

Here is the invitation from the city, and this link provides more information:

The City of Pittsburgh invites you to provide input on an action plan for transit improvements and community development in the corridor between Downtown and neighborhoods east.

Please come share your ideas. For convenience, the public meeting is being offered twice at different times and locations. Take your pick of:

Tuesday, May 5, 2015 Uptown/Downtown, Noon – 2:00 pm

Duquesne University, Power Center Ballroom, 1015 Forbes Avenue

or

Wednesday, May 6, 2015 Oakland, 6:00 – 8:00 pm

William Pitt Student Union, Kurtzman Room, 3959 Fifth Avenue

At these upcoming public meetings, the City of Pittsburgh will provide an overview of coordinated planning efforts in the corridor along Fifth and Forbes Avenues, including the Downtown, Uptown, Oakland, and other east end neighborhoods. This will involve a review of ongoing planning for transit improvements, including bus rapid transit (BRT), and upcoming planning for an EcoInnovation District in the Uptown neighborhood.

Per the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, which govern transit planning, the environmental scoping process will include the opportunity for the public and agencies to provide comment on the purpose and need for transit improvements, as well as environmental issues that should be considered. Participants will also be able to provide preliminary input on possible station locations for proposed BRT alignments.

The goal of the Uptown EcoInnovation District is a revitalized Uptown community, which is both environmentally and financially sustainable while promoting equity, and public and private sector innovation.

The City of Pittsburgh has undertaken an effort to coordinate multiple complimentary planning projects in this corridor. The purpose is to capitalize on the community and economic development potential of the neighborhoods in this corridor while better connecting them, to each other and the region, through improved mobility. The City will knit together neighborhood-based planning projects, which will influence planning for improved transit service and infrastructure underway by Port Authority of Allegheny County.

For more information, contact Patrick Roberts, Department of City Planning, Principal Transportation Planner at 412.255.2224 or patrick.roberts@pittsburghpa.gov

The meeting locations are accessible to persons with mobility disabilities, a sign language interpreter will be available and the meeting document will be available to attendees in Spanish and Braille.

Both meetings are accessible via Port Authority service. For more transit schedule information, go to PortAuthority.org or call 412.442.2000.


Pittsburghers for Public Transit encourages riders and residents to come to the meetings next week so that their voices can be heard during this process.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Pittsburghers for Public Transit supports the Fight for 15!

Fast food workers and other low wage workers are going on strike today (4/15) to demand 15 dollars an hour and a union. Many of these workers are transit riders. They all deserve a living wage and respect on the job.

Let's lift up neighborhoods and families across our city and increase the wages of all workers.

-Rally at 12 noon at Market Square downtown

-4:00 PM, Gather at Forbes & Bigelow in Oakland, in front of the Cathedral of Learning.


See below for the ATU International's support for the Fight for 15:

ATU workers nationwide gear up for Fight for $15

Building on three years of successful actions by fast-food workers, tomorrow, Wednesday 4/15, underpaid workers across the country, from restaurant workers, to bus drivers, to adjunct professors, are coming together to demand living wages and the right to unionize.

The first action was over three years ago in New York City when more than 200 fast-food workers walked off the job.

Today, the national conversation around the living wage is moving cities like Seattle and San Francisco, towards a $15 per hour living wage. Within the transportation industry, workers who are employed by private companies often face the same indignities of poverty wages and abusive working conditions. ATU is proud to join our brothers and sisters in fighting back against predatory corporations that take more than their fair share of the profit.

To find a Fight for $15 Rally in your city, click here.