Fall Fundraising Drive for PPT!

Now in our 7th year, Pittsburghers for Public Transit is continuing the fight for equity, transparency and access for transit riders and residents across Allegheny County. Bus Lines are Life Lines, and we insist that riders, drivers and residents be at the table for decisions at the Port Authority, the URA, the city and the county that will affect their communities.

We couldn’t do the work we do without all of your support! We’re launching our fall fundraising drive today, and if you can, please donate to help keep the public in public transit! Your contribution goes directly towards grassroots organizing and keeping Pittsburghers for Public Transit robust and growing.

We have some really awesome gifts for you as well, including designs by local artists Christina Castillo and Nathan Van Patter as well as PPT buttons and transit haikus! :

Download (PDF, 373KB)

For your support, we’d like to send you these gifts (see main image above for pictures and designs):

  • For a donation of $35, we’d like to send you a beautifully designed shirt by Christina Castillo, a local artist and organizer in Pittsburgh (We’ll be in touch with you for t-shirt sizes)
  • For a donation of $50, we’d like to send you a t-shirt, a PPT button, and a transit haiku written by a talented PPT member just for you!
  • For a donation of $100, we’d like to send you 2 t-shirts, 2 PPT buttons, and a transit haiku written just for you!
  • For a donation of $1,250, we’ll send you an awesome piece of art made by artist Nathan Van Patter, a wooden piece showing riders waiting at a bus stop
  • For a donation of $3,000, we’ll send you an amazing 3-D piece, also by Nathan Van Patter, showing a streetscape with a Port Authority bus at the center

Also, save the dates for some upcoming events and fundraisers:
Come support the Smokestack and Lightning Benefit Concert to help raise money for both PPT and Casa San Jose on December 1st at 7:30pm at the Quaker Meeting House (4836 Ellsworth Avenue)

Join us for our Holiday Happy Hour at Mixtape on Thursday, December 14th at 5pm. We’re excited to be partnering with this great local bar that pays its workers a living wage. All “tips” from this month and that event will be going to PPT!

Port Authority Selects New CEO, Katherine Kelleman

The Port Authority has hired Katharine Kelleman, former head of the Hillsborough Area Regional Transportation Authority in Tampa, Florida as the new CEO for Port Authority. Although we are disappointed that there was no public selection process, we welcome Ms. Kelleman to Pittsburgh.

We appreciate that she is already aware of the issues around policing on the T, and the devastating impact of the BRT on Mon Valley residents, and are hopeful that she will work with riders and drivers to ensure that we have a safe, affordable, accessible, and equitable system for all!

Full room at the Duquesne BRT Meeting Yesterday!

Full room at the Duquesne BRT meeting yesterday! Thanks to everyone who came out to say “NO” to more cuts to service.

The BRT meetings in Braddock, Duquesne, and McKeesport over the past several weeks have been packed, and residents raised many important concerns around the current proposed BRT plan. As it stands, riders on the 61 A,B,C in the Mon Valley will lose their direct route to downtown and have forced transfers in Oakland. Riders and residents made it clear that the BRT benefits some at the expense of riders out in these neighborhoods, and the current plan is NOT equitable!

If you live in Braddock, Duquesne, McKeesport or Rankin, please fill out this survey here so the Port Authority knows your transit needs and uses.

Which side are you on, Dom? Say “NO” to criminalization of transit riders!

Thanks to all who came out yesterday to oppose armed police checking fare payment on our public transit. We’re asking Dom Costa and the Port Authority board: which side are you on? Your constituents say “NO” to the criminalization of transit riders.

Transportation not Deportation! Public Transit, not a Checkpoint!



Crystal Jennings leading chants at the Don’t Criminalize Transit Riders rally and speakers Brandi Fisher from the Alliance for Police Accountability, Alma Brigido, and Jordan Malloy from Fight for Lifers West shared some powerful stories and speeches about why the community has rallied against this terrible policy.

Thanks to Christina Acuna Castillo for the artwork and Dean Mougianis for the video!


PPT Meeting Scheduled for Tuesday, October 17th!

Please join us for our October PPT meeting on Tuesday, October 17th at 7pm at 1 Smithfield Street downtown. Hear updates about our campaigns and actions over the past month and ways to plug in in upcoming events.

For more information, please call (718) 309-0853



UPDATE: McKeesport BRT Meeting Rescheduled

There have been some changes to the schedule of BRT meetings. The McKeesport meeting has been moved from this Wednesday to next Monday, October 16th at 7pm at the Palisades (100 Fifth Avenue, 2nd floor).

Apologies for the confusion. Here’s the list of upcoming meetings/events for clarity:

  1. Letter delivery to Dom Costa’s office for Don’t Criminalize Transit Riders Campaign: Thursday, October 12th at 9:45am at Napoli Field in Morningside (near intersection of President Way and Antietam St.)
  2. McKeesport BRT Meeting: Monday, October 16th at 7pm @ The Palisades– 100 Fifth Avenue
  3. PPT October Meeting: Tuesday, October 17th at 7pm, location TBD
  4. Duquesne BRT Meeting: Wednesday, October 18th at 6:30pm at Duquesne City Hall (12 S. Second Street)

If anyone has any questions, please email chandana@pittsburghforpublictransit.org or call (718) 309-0853.

Thanks so much!

PPT October Meeting Postponed!

Hi all!

There’s been so much happening this past month! Thanks to the awesome work of residents and riders, the County and the Port Authority have scheduled three community meetings in Braddock, McKeesport, and Duquesne to address concerns around the BRT. Unfortunately, the upcoming one in McKeesport is happening at the same time as our scheduled October meeting.

In light of that, we’re going to be pushing back the PPT meeting to Tuesday, October 17th at 7pm, location TBD. If folks can instead make it to the McKeesport BRT meeting to support residents out there advocating against massive cuts to frequency on the 61 buses and loss of a direct route downtown, that would be awesome! Here’s more details:

7pm on Wednesday, October 18th at the Palisades (100 Fifth Avenue, 2nd floor)

In the meantime, please keep an eye out for our monthly newsletter later today for more updates on our campaigns and exciting upcoming events!

If you have any questions, please call (718) 309-0853 or email chandana@pittsburghforpublictransit.org!

Powerful Testimony at Port Authority Board Meeting Re: Policing on the T

September 29th, 2017

Great testimony today at the Port Authority board meeting about why we should not have criminal penalties and Port Authority police doing fare enforcement on the T! Speakers included representatives from The Women and Girls Foundation, Aryse, PIIN, Urban Kind, Fight for LIfers West, LCLAA, the Center for Independent Living and Beechview Area Concerned Citizens.

Additionally, groups that signed onto a letter of support for a civil enforcement process include:

The Hill District Consensus Group
Restaurant Opportunities Center of Pittsburgh
One PA
Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition (PICC)
Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh
Allentown CDC
Zone Three Public Safety Council
Bloomfield Livable Streets
Bike Pittsburgh

See the letter below:

To: Port Authority of Allegheny County

We are writing to demand that the Port Authority of Allegheny County halts the implementation of their fare enforcement policy – “the proof of payment system” – on the light rail, until public concerns have been adequately addressed.  

Our concerns for the implementation of the currently proposed proof of payment policy can be summarized as follows. For the black and brown community, we know that even police officers with the best of intentions practice racial profiling (selective enforcement). Across the country, requiring armed police to have thousands of extra encounters with the public a week has proven to result in unnecessary confrontations and use of force incidents. These disproportionately impact black and brown communities. There have been incidents involving Port Authority police in the past, including but not limited to the murder of Bruce Kelley, Jr. and a confrontation with Somali youth downtown. Many communities still remember the recent and tragic deaths of Oscar Grant and Chad Robertson at the hands of transit police in their own cities.

For the immigrant community: when police run their names to check for prior fare violations, this can trigger contact with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, and begin an unjust and destructive process of detainment and deportation. No one should be detained and deported for the suspicion of failing to pay a $2.50 fare. The recent case of Ariel Vences-Lopez having his immigration status questioned by Metro Transit Police in Minneapolis led to Mr. Vences-Lopez being detained by I.C.E. and scheduled for deportation.  

For youth: many students ride the T to school and after-school activities everyday. If they forget their bus pass 3 times, they are subject to both a Theft of Services and Criminal Trespass charge, which will result in a $300 fine or arrest. In NYC, 70% of arrestees were 16-17 years old. This will worsen the school-to-prison pipeline, lead to constitutional rights violations and future ACLU lawsuits.

In regard to those with mental health challenges, or intellectual disabilities: those with disabilities often respond in ways that police have misinterpreted as threats or defiance, and police have unnecessarily responded with force, leading to injury and death.

Finally, for the poor: this proposal results in the criminalization of an everyday necessity.

We support a civil fare enforcement process, where a civilian “fare ambassador” checks for fare payment, and writes a citation if someone cannot prove payment after several offences. Those citations would ultimately go to a bill collector, similar to the process that the Pittsburgh Parking Authority and Southwest PA Turnpike Commission follow. In addition, we believe that the Port Authority should have a policy limiting coordination and communication with ICE, should implement rigorous racial bias training for Port Authority Police and fare ambassadors, and have transparency and accountability with enforcement data.

There is ample evidence that demonstrates that the U.S. cities that have civilian fare checkers- with non-police powers- do not have a high rate of fare evasion. Our coalition is not proposing to duplicate any of these example cities’ fare enforcement practices entirely, but follow the best proof-of-payment practices that the Transit Cooperative Research Program of the Federal Transit Administration identifies: namely, to have a customer service approach rather than a traditional policing approach. It is important to note that concern over fare evasion is not the reason why PAAC is considering implementation of Proof-of- Payment. The only goal of the proof of payment is to increase efficiency, by allowing riders to board at any door on the T, without waiting in line to pay the driver or off-board fare collector. This goal would be accomplished regardless of whether or not enforcement were performed by Port Authority police or civilian fare ambassadors, and whether or not fare evasion had civil or criminal consequences, without any of the harm we foresee happening under the Port Authority’s current policy proposal.


The Hill District Consensus Group

Restaurant Opportunities Center of Pittsburgh

One PA


Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition (PICC)

Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh

Allentown CDC

Zone Three Public Safety Council

Bloomfield Livable Streets

Bike Pittsburgh


Fight for Lifers West

Pittsburgh has one of the highest uses of public transit in the nation: Bus lines are lifelines!

The US Census reports that Pittsburgh workers that commute using public transit is growing– in 2016 it went up to 18.1% of the population, which puts us 9th in the nation. If you include biking and walking, that’s 31% of Pittsburgh’s workers. And that’s JUST in the city of Pittsburgh, and among our working population (which doesn’t count retirees and students, the unemployed and the rest of the county). When you fund transit, people will use it! No Cuts to Our Bus Lines!

PPT joins the ATU at the Labor Day Parade!

Pittsburghers for Public Transit marched with the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) on Monday, September 4th for Labor Day. YES to strong unions! PPT supports a safe, affordable, accessible transit system operated by union drivers paid good living wages and working in safe conditions.