Sara Innamorato Moves On to General Election as the Only Candidate With a Transit Platform

Image Description: Graphic with two sides. Left side has a photo in color or Sara Innamorato. There are two boxes labled “#VoteTransit Q&A” and “Transit Ride-Along w PPT”. Both have checkmarks. On the right side there is a photo in black and wite of Joe Rockey. The same checkboxes are under his photo without a checkmark.

Transit riders are one set closer to deciding the next Allegheny County Executive – now more than ever we need to be vocal with our demands!

On May 16, Sara Innamorato won the Democratic nomination for Allegheny County Executive. Joe Rockey won the Republican nomination for the seat. Both will face off in the General Election on November 7, 2023. The Allegheny County Executive is the top-dog when it comes to public transit in Southwestern PA, so it is critical that transit rider get active in this election. The County Executive controls the majority of appointments to the Pittsburgh Regional Transit Board of Directors which control the transit agency’s $500+ million Operating Budget and $200+ million Capital Budget. Additionally, the County Executive controls board appointments and hundreds of millions of budget dollars at numerous County entities that directly impact the public transit system and its riders, such as the County Housing Authority, the County Department of Human Services, and the County Economic Development agency.

A permanent zero-fare program for all SNAP/EBT households has been a central demand from transit riders through this County Executive campaign. Now is your chance to help keep the momentum high by signing our petition and pledging to #VoteTransit in November to put a true champion for transit into our top office!

image description: Rep Sara Innamorato speaks to PPT Board Chair Verna Johnson during a March ’23 bus ride along on the 82 Lincoln

Sara Innamorato is the only candidate who rode the bus with PPT. And she was the only candidate to respond PPT’s #VoteTransit Candidate Questionnaire

The County Executive has the power to transform transit for local riders, so Pittsburghers for Public Transit has worked hard through the Allegheny County Primary Election season to advocate, educate and organize around the importance of public transit. We invited all candidates to ride the bus with us to see firsthand the issues as well as the demands that transit riders and workers have. We published our #VoteTransit Candidate Questionnaire to hear from candidates directly about their platforms. We’ve launched petitions and actions to allow riders to speak up for their issues. 

Of the two partys’ current nominees, only Representative Sara Innamorato accepted our invitation to ride the bus with transit riders and workers, and she was the only one to submit her answers on the #VoteTransit Questionnaire. Joe Rockey was invited to both opportunities but declined response. We will continue to extend every invitation to him and seek his input on the future of transit.

image description: Sara Innamorato (left) listens intently to Ms. Sherai Richardson (right), who is a participant in the fare pilot, at the bus stop in Lincolm-Lemington on a cold afternoon. Ms. Verna Johnson (center) sits near the stop waiting for the bus as well.

Sara Innamorato rode the bus and committed to make a zero-fare program permanent for all low-income riders in Allegheny County – now we have to hold her to it. Sign the petition to strengthen the demand!

During the ride along, Sara Innamorato listened to Ms. Sherai Richardson, transit rider and participant in the Allegheny County Discounted Fare Pilot program. Ms. Richardson spoke about how this pilot has improved the lives of her neighbors. Over 14,000 people in Allegheny County are currently enrolled in the pilot. We know that unfortunately, the cost of transit fare remains a barrier to even more of our neighbors. PPT will continue to fight for affordable transit and a zero-fare program for low-income riders. Ms. Innamorato then boarded the 82 Lincoln with transit riders Ms. Teaira Collins and Ms. Verna Johnson, joined by PRT Operator Instructor Sasha Craig. Sasha Craig impressed the importance of the PRT workforce, scheduling constraints, and the urgent need to hire more operators to keep service running. Along the route, spanning from East Liberty to Downtown, Ms. Innamorato learned from riders how the impacts of reduced scheduling, aging sidewalk infrastructure, and connections to affordable housing and neighborhood amenities look vastly different along a route that spans multiple neighborhoods. 

Sara made some other big commitments in ther #VoteTransit Candidate Questionnaire

In addition to the invitation for a ride-along, each candidate was sent a questionnaire highlighting rider and worker demands of the next county executive and asking candidates to detail their vision for transit in Allegheny County. Check out the #VoteTransit County Executive Candidate Q&A blog to find out all the candidates’ responses. In her questionnaire, Sara Innamorato stated that she plans to commit to: 

  • Appoint at least one rider and one operator to the PRT board
  • Put a moratorium on service reductions and cuts
  • Create a permanent zero-fare program for all SNAP/EBT households in Allegheny County
  • Build more affordable, transit-oriented development
  • Work with Mayor Gainey and other local leaders to invest infrastructure dollars to improve transit, and pass pro-transit zoning reforms at the municipal level
  • Establish more communication between PRT and the community and transit advocates 
  • Fully implement a bulk pass discount program to get large employers to pre-pay for transit passes for their employees
  • Seek “payments in lou of tax” agreements or additional taxes from large employers and non-profits
  • Create a new position at PRT focused on language accessibility and disability access

We await to hear from Joe Rockey on his position and priorities.

Transit riders made transit a top priority in this County Executive race. Now we need your help to keep our momentum going. 

As the dust settles from this primary election, one thing is abundantly clear: transit riders made public transit a top priority in the County Executive race. We brought energy across every neighborhood and every borough, and have gotten a step closer to deciding how to make our system better serve those who need it most. 

The only way we can push towards transit justice and gain the transit we need and deserve, is if we all do our part. 

Can you help fuel a successful victory to the finish line of free transit, improved and accessible transit with no communities left behind? Donate to our transit rider organizing today!