We’re going to DC to demand transit justice in a 1-on-1 meeting with USDOT Secretary Buttigieg

Graphic is a split-screen image. On the left is Lisa Gonzalez, PPT Emeritus Coordinating Committee Member. On the right is USDOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg. An arrow points from Ms. Lisa to Mayor Pete.

PPT Emeritus Coordinating Committee Member Lisa Gonzalez goes to Washington DC for a personal conversation with New USDOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg

Next week, PPT Emeritus Coordinating Committee Member Lisa Gonzalez will go to Washington DC for a one-on-one sitdown with USDOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg. She was connected to Secretary Buttigieg through our allies at Pittsburgh United and a coalition that we are working together in to expand the understanding of what “infrastructure”. Infrastructure is more than just steel and concrete, it is the humans and social connections that we rely on for health and wellbeing.

Ms. Lisa and her sister are the primary unpaid caregivers for their mother who is unable to leave home. Lisa needs to take the bus back and forth to her mom’s house. She needs transit to pick up the groceries and medication that her mother needs. Caregivers like Lisa, and public utilities like public transit, are essential infrastructure needed to sustain our lives.

Caregiving is full-time work, but buses have limited hours of operation and fare costs act as barriers to access. Ms. Lisa will use her visit to uplift two primary demands to Secretary Buttigieg:

  1. That the USDOT supports $20 billion for transit operations in the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Bill, to improve equity and allow for service expansion
  2. That the USDOT support federal legislation, funding, and guidance around affordable fares for low-income riders

These demands echo the calls made by transit and caregiving advocates across the country. Follow our social media on Tuesday, May 25th to support Ms. Lisa in her conversation with Pete Buttigieg!

Grassroots advocacy was essential in securing $30+ billion for public transit in federal COVID relief bills. Now we need to organize to ensure that this money is spent equitably and transparently.

Over the last year, PPT has mobilized with transit riders and workers at local, state, and federal levels to move the needle on transit justice. During a pandemic that brought on the worst economic depression of the century, we proved that public transit riders and workers are essential for our cities and our economy. This grassroots movement has brought about unprecedented levels of investment and recognition to public transit, its riders, and its workers.

Transit riders were central in the win to secure $30 billion dollars through 3 COVID stimulus bills public transit agencies and cities across the country. This money was critical for saving transit from historic threats. Transit riders also uplifted the importance of transit during the presidential primaries and general elections. Ultimately, we contributed to electing a President who has been the most outspoken advocate of public transit in recent memory.

We have brought home hundreds of millions of dollars to our local agencies. We are moving a federal government to release plans for historic levels of transit support. Now is the time for transit riders and workers keep the pressure up on all fronts: local, state and federal. We can make transit justice a reality.

New PPT op-ed with BikePGH raises demands for how President Biden’s American Jobs Plan can be executed with equity at its core

Testifiers Demand Port Authority Go Further With New Fare Recommendations

Photo from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette of a woman walking off of a red Port Authority bus downtown at Wood Street Station. It is night time and the neon above the station glows red as the breeze blows the front of her long coat.

Public comment period closes on Port Authority’s new fare proposal. Dozens speak up for further change.

Last month Port Authority proposed three changes to their fare policy:

  1. An increase in the base fare to $2.75 for those paying with CONNECT card stored value.
  2. Free Transfers for 3 Hours for those paying with CONNECT card stored value.
  3. A rolling timeline for weekly and monthly bus passes, so that the bus pass “week” starts when you first tap the pass, not along a Sun-Sat schedule.

…and opened a 40-day period for the public to give feedback. This public comment period closed on May 5th. One thing was made clear by dozens of testifiers, public comments, and opinion pieces: the Port Authority needs to be more aggressive with fare equity changes.

Public testifiers agree: new changes leave out riders most in need. Port Authority must extend emergency fare relief to low-income riders and increase CONNECT card access.

Across the board, the public was in support of free transfers and 7-day/31-day timeline for weekly and monthly passes. These are common-sense changes that have been uplifted by riders for years. But even Port Authority’s own report showed that these changes leave out riders most in need: low-income riders and those who cannot access CONNECT cards.

The Port Authority needs to quickly implement these newly proposed changes so that they can pursue more aggressive fare relief programs like those started with federal COVID stimulus money in Los Angeles, San Fransico and Richmond.

Access to public transit is access to food, healthcare, and economic security. It is a matter of life or death not only for residents of Allegheny County but also for the transit agency itself. Port Authority’s ridership has been stuck at 40% of pre-pandemic levels. Fare relief programs could jumpstart the agency and get people moving safely to essential needs.

Check out these news stories on the Public Comment Period and a supportive opinion from the Post-Gazette Editorial Board to learn more:

You can support fare equity by signing your organization on to support the call for #FairFares

PPT Coordinating Committee Election Season 2021: Nominate Fellow Organizers to Lead PPT

Image of the Beyond the East Busway organizing fellows laughing around a table as they plan the campaign’s next steps.

Join the core team to coordinate the direction of Pittsburghers for Public Transit.

Pittsburghers for Public Transit is a grassroots, democratic, member-led organization that fights for public transit as a human right. PPT’s Coordinating Committee is the equivalent of our board of directors. We are looking for people who understand the importance of our work for transit justice in Allegheny County, and are looking to get more involved in directing the course of our campaigns, communications, and actions. See the list of current Coordinating Committee Members here. Up for nomination are seats currently filled by James Hanna, Kevin Joa, Dean Mougianis, Briann Moye, and Mayor Nickole Nesby.

Nominate yourself or someone who inspires you with their leadership, vision, and commitment to transit justice.

Black, Indigenous, People of Color, LGBTQ People, People with Disabilities, Immigrants, Womxn, and Youth nominations are strongly encouraged.

Coordinating Committee Structure and Expectations

Each July, PPT members vote for leaders to fill seats on PPT’s 5-11 member Coordinating Committee. Coordinating Committee Members serve a 2-year term. All PPT members who have paid dues for at least 6-months can run for the Coordinating Committee.

2 seats must be filled by members of the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 85 (the union that represents all of the Port Authority’s bus operators and maintenance workers) or another transportation union that represents workers in Allegheny County because strong community/labor solidarity is a central belief of the organization. The other seats are filled by members who have had previous experience with PPT’s work, and are looking to bring their involvement to the next level. One seat is reserved for the Director of the Thomas Merton Center, the organization that acts as PPT’s fiscal sponsor.

From our bylaws: “The Coordinating Committees shall have charge of the proper, normal, and usual expenditures and other business of the corporation; they shall enforce the provision of these bylaws; they shall abide by the policies and procedures set forth in the Policies and Procedures Manual, and shall enforce the rules and regulations set forth for the management, care, and governance of the property and affairs of the corporation. The Coordinating Committee may employ or appoint such person or persons, or agents, as they deem necessary to further the business of PPT and shall set and adjust the compensation of all persons or agents so employed or appointed.”

Quality candidates are active with PPT or bring experience that the membership finds important for moving the organization forward. 

Members of the Coordinating Committee are expected to attend quarterly Coordinating Committee meetings – on the second Saturday of January, April, July, and October –  and should also stay engaged with General Membership Meetings on the second Wednesday of each month. 

Additionally, Coordinating Committee members will need to maintain active lines of communication with PPT staff and other PPT members to advise and assist with the organization’s strategy, tactics, structure, and financial sustainability. CC Members should also serve on one of PPT’s three committees (Organizing Committee, Communications Committee, and Research Committee).

Nominations and Elections

Nominations are open until July 6th. PPT staff will confirm with each nominee whether they accept the nomination to be on the ballot. Each nominee will also be invited to submit up to 250 words about their background, experience, and vision for the organization. This can be submitted through the nomination form, email, or via phone and PPT staff will transcribe.

Nominee bios will be sent to PPT members the week of June 14th and again the week of July 5th. Bios will also be included in the ballot. Nominees will have 3 minutes to speak at the July 14th PPT member meeting before votes are cast to highlight their vision for PPT and how their skills will help build the organization.

Voting in the 2021 Coordinating Committee election will open at PPT’s monthly meeting on July 14th, and run until July 21st. PPT members cast their vote via a google form that will be shared at the July meeting and emailed. PPT members are all those who support the Transit Bill of Rights, have participated in a PPT action or meeting, and have given dues of at least $2.75 cents within the last year. If PPT Members are not able to join the meeting, they can reach out to info@pittsburghforpublictransit.org to arrange for a ballot. 

PPT Coordinating Committee Election Schedule

  • Nominations are open until July 6th. Submit your nomination here.
  • Bios of current nominees will be sent to members the week of June 14th and again the week of July 5th. Bios will also be included on the ballot.
  • July 14th, 7pm: PPT Monthly Meeting with Coordinating Committee Nominee introductions and Elections, voting opens
  • July 21st, 11:59pm: Final deadline for PPT members to submit their ballots online or via phone

Submit nominations through the link below, or by calling PPT’s Director, Laura Wiens, at 703-424-0854:

A Campaign to Expand Public Transit Funding in PA

Transit riders and workers across PA are coming together to expand public transit in our state – Sign on to support the campaign!

Public transit operates in every single Pennsylvania county, moving millions of riders each day and employing tens of thousands of unionized workers. These PA transit riders and workers are the backbones of our economy and pillars of our community. They need to be driving the conversation about expanding public transit in Pennsylvania, so that we can ensure economic opportunity, environmental justice and full access for all Pennsylvanians.

We are Pennsylvania transit riders, transit workers and transit supporters calling for dedicated, expanded, and progressive statewide transit funding replacement for Act 89. Through the Spring of 2021 we worked with over 250 transit riders and workers from across the state  to develop this platform to guide our campaign for expanded transit funding in PA. The effort was led by the Amalgamated Transit Union PA Join Conference Board, Pittsburghers for Public Transit, Philly Transit Riders Union, Transit Forward Philadelphia and 5th Square, but we need you and your organizations to support us in this campaign. 

Read through this platform’s Statement of Principles, Legislative Goals, and “Menu” of State Transit Funding Mechanisms, and sign on here to support us in this work. We will follow up to discuss the campaign and our next steps.

The Platform

Section I: Statement of Principles

We believe that transit should be funded:

  1. To serve Pennsylvania’s diverse needs. Pennsylvania has large transit systems in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, medium-sized systems in cities like State College, Allentown, Erie, Lancaster Scranton, and Harrisburg, and shared-ride service for seniors and people with disabilities in every county of the state. Transit is an urban and a rural issue; it is for people of all ages and abilities. Transit funding matters to the entire state.
  2. Through progressive mechanisms.  We need to end tax loopholes and favoritism so that corporations and those with higher incomes pay their fair share. 
  3. With sustainable, long-term funding sources.  Transit agencies need dependable, long-term funding to make responsible decisions about preserving or expanding service so that public transit workers and riders are not faced with service cuts, fare increases, and or layoffs to address funding shortfalls.  Funding should also be flexible so that local transit agencies can prioritize capital or operations funding needs.
  4. Equitably with roads and bridges. We believe in a fix-it-first approach to our highway systems, and that highway expansion runs counter to our responsibilities around climate resiliency, congestion mitigation, mode-shift needs, and our other fiscal responsibilities. 
  5. With transit riders and transit workers at the table.  People who use and run the system should be at the table for deciding the funding mechanisms and in evaluating how those funds should be invested in our regions. Those with the most at stake (and who know how the system works) should be given an important voice in decision-making. 
  6. Without inflicting harm or funding reductions to other essential state services and programs. Transit plays an essential role in access to employment, healthcare, housing, and education, but none of their funding sources should be cannibalized to pay for the other. All these critical state services must be fully funded – as well as transit. 

We additionally affirm the national Transit Justice Principles, which calls for transit to be: 

  1. Equitable
  2. Sustainable
  3. Economically productive
  4. Safe and accessible
  5. Affordable

Section II: Legislative Goals

  1. To generate $1.65 billion dollars/year for a dedicated state fund for PA public transit, and to ensure that this funding grows annually to address annual cost and ridership increases. This funding should be used to explicitly support transit service expansion and a fix-it first approach to capital projects.  
  2. To pass legislation enabling local governments to implement new transit funding mechanisms, while ensuring that local funds are supplemental and not used to replace a shortfall from the state 
  3. To ensure that state transit funding is flexible around capital and operations
  4. To ensure that public infrastructure, including public transit, roads and bridges, remain publicly-owned and operated. To ensure that construction and transit operations in PA are done by union workers.
  5. To move towards clean, electrified public transportation fleets that retain and create union mechanic and engineering jobs in garages across PA.
  6. To ensure that there is robust funding at the state level for bike and pedestrian infrastructure, with an emphasis on accessible and safe bike and pedestrian connections to transit
  7. To generate funding for a dedicated low-income fare program statewide, similar to the existing senior fare free transit programs, administered by the state.
  8. To develop state guidelines around “transit-oriented communities,” and to create a fund to support the development of affordable housing by good transit
  9. To decriminalize fare evasion at the state level, and to enable local jurisdictions to set local civil processes to address fare evasion
  10. To ensure that transit riders have a governing role on transit agency boards, through the creation of elected seats and transparency around board members’ transit usage.

 Section III: Preferred State Transit Funding Mechanisms 

We support general reforms to the tax code to make revenue streams into the PA General Fund more equitable, including implementing the Fair Share tax and closing the Delaware loophole. However, because we recognize that these mechanisms will ensure that the General Fund is able to address the Commonwealth’s education and public health needs, among other critical priorities, our focus is on the below-listed tax revenue sources for dedicated statewide funding towards public transit. We are also strongly in favor of removing the PA State Police from the Motor License Fund, which will save upwards of $800 million dollars annually to be invested in transportation. 

We additionally support local revenue sources for expanding transit funding that include congestion pricing, taxing private parking lots, taxing large non-profits, and land value taxes. 

After consultation with riders, workers, and advocates we would like to guide PA legislators to the following range of state funding mechanisms that we support, to provide dedicated statewide revenue stream for public transit: 

Corporate and Individual Wealth Taxes: 

Corporate Income Tax Increase: An increase on the tax on the profits of a PA corporation.

Implementation of a Corporate Head Tax: Implementation of a flat fee charged per employee for businesses over a certain size

Wealth Tax: Implementation of a tax on the net wealth a Pennsylvania resident holds, for those with total wealth over several million dollars.

Road User Fees:

TNC Fee: A per ride tax on any Transportation Network Company (TNC) company trip like Uber or Lyft 

Interstate Tolling: A statewide toll of interstates and expressways 

Mileage-Based User Fees: This new road user charge will charge 3.16 cents to 7 cents per mile 

Excise Tax on Vehicle Delivery: This is a percentage of value on goods delivered from third-party delivery companies, like Amazon. 

Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI): This is a cap on carbon emissions from various transportation fuels. A minimum of 35% of this revenue will be allocated to environmental justice communities that are unjustly affected by pollution and the remaining portion will go to alternative transportation solutions. 

Progressive Vehicle Ownership Taxes:

Increase to Truck and Tractor Trailer Registration Fees: These fees will be tacked on heavy-duty trucks and tractor trailers registered in the state of Pennsylvania. 

Increase to the Heavy Vehicle Use Tax: These fees will be tacked on heavier vehicles of 55,000 pounds or more.

Vehicle Property Tax: This is a percentage fee on the assessed value of a vehicle (or .35% of the annual value). 

New Car Vehicle Sales Tax: This will increase in the current vehicle sales tax to address the Act 44/89 sunset in 2022.

Luxury Vehicle Tax: This is a tax on all of the luxury vehicles sold and registered in the state of Pennsylvania. Vehicle Rental Tax: This is an increase on a tax on all vehicle rentals made in the state of Pennsylvania.

Public Transit is a Mayoral Issue: Transit Justice Demands for PGH

Image includes photographs of the 4 current mayoral candidates: Bill Peduto, Ed Gainey, Tony Moreno, and Mike Thompson. Over the image of a large red articulated bus.
Image includes photographs of the 4 current mayoral candidates: Bill Peduto, Ed Gainey, Tony Moreno, and Mike Thompson. Over the image of a large red articulated bus.

Transit justice needs to be top of mind for the candidates running to be Pittsburgh’s Mayor. 

Read Below for Our Demands on Pittsburgh’s Mayoral Candidates

The City of Pittsburgh and the Mayor’s administration is responsible for many of the critical infrastructure and policy investments that can make public transit effective and safe. That person needs to be a champion for public transit.

The most recent census numbers tell us that more than 50,000 Pittsburghers use public transit to commute to work every day – more than 17% of our city’s population. This ranks Pittsburgh as the 9th highest % of transit commuters in the country. We know the number of people who ride public transit is actually much higher. People who ride public transit who are unemployed, in school, or who aren’t riding it for commuting purposes are not counted in that number.

We also know that public transit is key to economic mobility and racial equity. Our city suffers from huge income and racial disparities– and some of the worst air quality in the nation. And nearly 25% of Pittsburghers do not have access to a private vehicle.

But there are huge gaps that make it difficult for riders to take transit in the City: a lack of bus shelters, disconnected sidewalks, few bus-only lanes, and no policies ensuring affordable housing access to good transit, as a few examples.

With all of the benefits that transit presents for climate, racial, gender, and economic justice, it should be a no-brainer for the Pittsburgh mayoral candidates to throw down for transit and good land use policy in the lead up to the May 18th primary election.

Pittsburgh’s mayor needs to support faster, more affordable, dignified and connected public transit throughout our region.

So what are we hearing from the mayoral candidates on public transit? The answer is…not enough. But here are a few interviews and forums where candidates have given some information on where they stand on public transit:

From the CityPaper’s interviews on mayoral priorities, including questions on transit and land use:

With Mayor Peduto:

“One of the areas that we’re looking at in the future is reimagining the parking authority as the mobility authority…Through the Rockefeller Foundation, we were able to conduct a study with a German tram car company, looking at the potential of cable cars in the city of Pittsburgh where they would be most efficient, but also where they would also provide greater equity in which communities could be connected that aren’t connected today by roadways. We toyed with the idea for decades of having marinas and water taxis. We have been looking into tram cars and to be able to connect those with the Port Authority bus system.”

With Rep Ed Gainey:

“What can be done to, what can we do to create a better public transit system? And that’s when we begin to advocate because we want to demonstrate that we’re growing jobs in providing people with the opportunity to go work. And what does that look like? And how do we have a better-connected system that gets us again from an urban corridor out to Robinson? That’s a great example. We know that doesn’t exist right now. We know that. So we have to be advocates for it.”

With Tony Moreno:

“If you go anywhere in town, anywhere in the city, you watch buses that go by that have one or two riders. And then you go to different areas that have lines and lines and lines of people that are waiting to get on a bus… So what I would do…you put those bus routes on a circular pattern around those same four streets that I said (Grand Street, Stanwix, Boulevard of the Allies, and Fort Duquesne) and make those run on a steady basis with the police officers they’re allowing those buses to go through and creating a bus lane that is a true bus lane only. Making sure that people use their crosswalks, and they don’t turn against lights or stop traffic at intersections. You get those buses flowing and then take our smaller buses and use the smaller buses to go inside of town — that are handicap accessible and also bike accessible. That’s a big deal when those buses stop, but you got to throw a bike on that bike rack, it takes up a lot of time and that creates a traffic problem.” 

With Michael Thompson:

In time and again once what happens, they’re removing not adding bus shelters, and that is something we should do, that is something that the city can fund, even if the Port Authority doesn’t want to. And then the city can provide shelter from the rain. We need to provide shelter for our residents, shelter for people who are waiting for the bus in an accessible fashion. This is not a huge expense. It is something we could do.

Pittsburgh United’s Mayoral Candidate forum included a question about support for public transit. Check out the video to see candidate’s responses to the question: “How would you prioritize funding for different forms of transportation, keeping in mind any climate or environmental goals that the City might have?” Answers start at 1:08.30.

Our friends at Just Harvest recognize that transit justice is a vital food access issue. Check out their voter guide to see candidates’ answers to the question: What will you do to improve Pittsburgh/Allegheny County residents’ access to healthy, affordable food? Should [public transit] play a role? If so, what should the city government do to strengthen it?

What actions do we want to see the next Mayor of Pittsburgh take to further transit justice?

1. We want a commitment to support public transit over venture-backed private mobility companies.

Year after year, we’ve seen the City bend over backward to provide staff time and our public streets to self-driving car companies; they have offered our parks and neighborhoods and over $23 million dollars to fund the Hazelwood Green Mon-Oakland Connector shuttle roadway; have turned over our sidewalks for private sidewalk delivery robot companies to make their profits; and are laying out a red carpet for private mobility companies to profit on our public resources.

The truth is that scooters, ride-hailing, and other micro-mobility schemes primarily benefit upper-income, able-bodied white men. They also cannibalize public transit riders and critical transit agency funding. It’s time for our City to prioritize people over corporations by investing in transit as a human right.

Instead of spending limited city-staff time on these tech-based projects, we want to see the city to hire a full-time sidewalk program manager, a transit program manager, and to hire people with disabilities to consult on infrastructure projects and ADA enforcement. Public works can also be directed to clean sidewalks and stairs, and clear them after a snowfall.

2. We want a commitment to connected, comfortable, accessible, and safe pedestrian and bike connections to transit.

If pedestrian connections to transit are inaccessible, then public transit is not, in fact, a viable optionThe City of Pittsburgh can use its Capital Budget to improve transit facilities and maintenance. A City Administration can make transit-accessible and dignified:

  • With covered bus shelters with benches
  • Connected sidewalks and accessible curb cuts
  • Safer pedestrian intersections with signals and traffic calming
  • No Parking signs at bus stops
  • Bus bump-outs
  • Wayfinding and signs to point to transit and key destinations around transit
  • By paving existing bus lanes
  • With more protected bike lanes
  • Non-slip crosswalks
  • Street lighting
  • Shade trees by transit
  • Public restrooms and water fountains, situated near transit
  • More Healthy Ride stations co-located with transit, bike sheds and bike parking.

3. We want effective and faster transit.

Buses carrying 40-60 passengers should get priority on our streets over gas-guzzling single-occupancy vehicles

  • With bus rapid transit (BRT) lanes in more parts of the city that are outside of the East End. Neighborhoods in the Northside and South Hills have been calling for better transit connections for years.
  • Traffic signal priority for buses, to keep buses from idling at traffic lights
  • Increase speed & safety with a switch to far-side stops: reference, study
  • Peak-only bus lanes, could be used in tight spaces like Carson Street, & Butler Street : reference

4. We want legislation and zoning that supports transit use.

Zoning is one of the most powerful tools that a mayor has at their disposal, but candidates often overlook it when thinking about improving transit. 

Transit riders are being displaced out of the City of Pittsburgh everyday. Without funding and policies to ensure that our City has affordable housing located near quality transit lines, riders will be pushed away from their access to basic needs. Moreover, there’s nothing preventing the City of Pittsburgh from funding transit directly– in fact, almost all cities invest money into transit operations– nor from purchasing transit passes for their employees, at a minimum. The City should

  • Develop requirements or incentives for developers to build affordable housing by good transit
  • Stop making developers build parking lots next to good transit, and establish parking maximums for these transit-rich neighborhoods to free up funding for more affordable housing.
  • Encourage density and affordability – eliminate single-family zoning
  • Provide bus passes for all City employees
  • Make incentives or mandates for employers or developers to purchase bulk bus passes for employees or renters – buy a bus pass instead of building a parking spot
  • Enforce the No Parking rule at bus stops without using armed police
  • Increase maintenance of bus stops and sidewalks, including snow removal
  • Give operating money directly to Port Authority
  • Provide free or reduced transit for PGH residents, like NYC
  • Implement congestion pricing

These are just a few ideas that were generated by PPT members at a recent Monthly Meeting. And they’re relevant for Council Members, Department Heads and other City of Pittsburgh Staff.

Now its time to put these demands into action.  Drop us a message at Laura@pittsburghforpublictransit.org to get involved in uplifting these demands with the upcoming Mayor and City Council elections!

Volunteer to Collect Public Input on PAAC’s New Fare Proposal

Sign up to help PPT collect feedback from bus riders on Port Authority’s new Fare Proposal

In case you missed it, Port Authority released a new fare proposal back in March. The bad new is that the proposal misses a huge opportunity to create real change for low-income riders. The good news is that we can organize riders to speak up to win more impactful change.

Check out our blog on the new proposal and PPT’s take. And sign up for a canvass day to help collect input from bus riders.

New Fare Proposal From Port Authority Needs to Go Further

After two years and a $210,000 study, Port Authority’s new fare proposal has been released. Public comment is being taken until May 5th.

The Port Authority has finally published the fare recommendations from a 2019 $210,000 contract with Four Nine Technologies. After more than two years, and in the midst of a pandemic, Port Authority announces just three potential changes:

  1. An increase in the base fare to $2.75 for those paying with CONNECT card stored value.
  2. Free Transfers for 3 Hours for those paying with CONNECT card stored value.
  3. A rolling timeline for weekly and monthly bus passes. So that the bus pass “week” starts when you first tap the pass, not along a Sun-Sat schedule.

Public comment is being taken on these recommendations until May 5th. This public comment period is our opportunity to call for more systemic changes that truly build equity for all riders. See below or visit Port Authority’s page for info on giving public comment.

These recommendations have fallen short of addressing the biggest problem with our fare system – rider access to CONNECT Cards and cash fare costs.

To be clear, the proposal does have some merits. Free transfers on for CONNECT card stored value is a very good policy change. The rolling timeline for weekly and monthly bus passes is also good, and will make buying passes more attractive. We have been calling for these changes since 2016. At this point, the Port Authority should pass these policies quickly. And they must take the fare hike off the table during a pandemic while people are suffering an economic downturn.

However, Port Authority already has some of the highest fares in the nation. And the pandemic has furthered existing inequities and has proved that low-income riders are the ones keeping our transit system afloat and that riders are essential workers, keeping our communities afloat. Port Authority needs to take the fare hike off the table. They need to pass the common-sense transfer & rolling pass policy. And they must move swiftly to overhaul its fare structure to benefit all riders.

Pittsburghers for Public Transit worked hard with our partners at Casa San Jose, Just Harvest, the Alliance for Police Accountability, and the Thomas Merton Center to provide solutions for these issues in our #FairFares platform. Riders have voiced solutions multiple times throughout the pandemic to extend emergency fare relief to low-income riders. And people have spoken up about fares during Port Authority’s 2020 “Listening Tour”, and in hundreds of NEXTransit long-range plan comments.

Riders have taken time to put forward solutions to fare inequity. But it is clear that the Port Authority has not heard its riders clearly enough.

As we see it, here are the key problems with the current proposal:

1. Cash riders, who are disproportionately low-income, pay more for transit by design.

The proposal does nothing to address the unfair cost burden of cash users. Cash riders already pay a full $2.75 for every trip and transfer. Prior to the pandemic, cash riders made up 9% of ridership, but they paid 15-16% of total fare revenue. That’s not right.

Routes with high cash usage run through disproportionately low-income and high minority communities. These routes often require more transfers, and with them more full cash transfer fees of $2.75.

CONNECT cards are harder to access for low-income riders. Access points like ticket venting machines and Giant Eagle/Goodwill stores are not prevalent in lower-income, suburban communities. These are also the same communities that have limited and less frequent service. 

In other words, poor riders pay more money for worse transit service. And this is even more pronounced during COVID, when reduced schedules and capacity limits are leaving riders stranded.

2. Low-income riders pay full fare, while virtually every other constituency pays less for transit.

Professionals can access pre-tax commuter benefits, saving them ~30% on bus pass costs. Seniors are free. Youth under 6 are free. University and some PPS students are free. Disabled people and youth between the ages of 6-12 pay half-fare.

Why is it that we are charging those with the least means to pay the most? We need emergency fare relief for low-income riders now, to ensure that riders can access critical needs during this pandemic and economic crisis, AND we need Port Authority to move towards implementing a long-term low-income fare program.

Low-income riders can easily pay more than the cost of a weekly or monthly bus pass in single CONNECT card payments over the course of a week or month—up to 180% more—simply because they don’t have the upfront money to pay the full cost of a bus pass at one time. That’s why we also need fare capping, which puts a cap on the amount that any rider can pay in single rides over a given period of time, at the cost of a pass.

3. We need bulk bus passes and transit incentive programs so we can shift the burden of fare costs to the large companies who profit most from public transit.

Right now, only universities can access bulk bus pass rates.

Port Authority needs to have bulk bus pass packages that can be purchased by employers to give to their employees. These programs can also be used by developers to give access to tenants, for social service agencies to give to their clients, and for conferences to provide for their attendees. A bulk bus pass program is a pathway for large companies pay for the transit system that they disproportionately benefit from… especially those large untaxed exployers like UPMC who currently pay nothing for the transit system that keeps their businesses running.

Bulk passes will also drive up ridership at a time when ridership is hovering at 35% of pre-pandemic levels.

4. Fare evasion needs to be decriminalized.

Port Authority police shot and killed Bruce Kelley, Jr. at the Wilkinsburg East Busway station in 2016, with no consequences. Port Authority is moving towards a process of “off-board fare payment” which will require random fare payment checks on the T and on our busways in the coming years. However, unless changes to fare enforcement are made, those checks will be done by armed Port Authority police. Failure to prove a $2.75 payment will lead to $300 fines, jailtime, and criminal charges.

Similar policies in other cities have led to the acceleration of the school to prison pipeline, detainment and deportation of our immigrant neighbors, the incarceration of the poor, and racial profiling and murders of unarmed Black and Brown riders. 

An equitable fare policy would ensure that fare enforcement be done by civilian, unarmed fare ambassadors, and that fare evasion be treated like parking tickets—with affordable civil penalties or community service. 

5. Time and time again, Port Authority asks low-income people to drop everything to give feedback about fares, then does nothing to prove that they’re listening.

When this new fare proposal was announced last month, Port Authority blamed the pandemic for why there was no public input into these proposals. But the reality is that Port Authority has asked riders to give feedback about fares on numerous times over the last two and a half years: during the announcement that they would hire a fare consultant in 2019, during the “Listening Tour” that started at the beginning of 2020, and at the dozens of NexTransit long-range planning meetings that have been held over the last year.

Each time, riders have made time to join these meetings and put forward sound policy proposals for an equitable system.

So riders are left asking, “how has all the feedback that we gave during that time been incorporated into this proposal? Where is the equity in asking us to talk about the same issues over and over again?”

Its time for the Port Authority to be transparent about the rider feedback they’ve gotten about fares over the last two years. And that they show how this feedback was– or wasn’t– incorporated into these suggestions. The agency also needs to give a detailed report of the feedback that they hear from riders during the 40-day comment period on this new proposal.

Check out PPT member Dean Mougianis’ #fairfares video to revisit our top-line demands from the Riders Vision for Public Transit:

But we deserve more ambitious fare changes, that truly address our region’s equity issues that our fare system perpetuates, and a fare system that will support more ridership, not less.

Now here is how you can help – The Port Authority is accepting Public Comment until May 5th

1. Sign up to testify at one of the upcoming fare hearings online: Thursday, April 22, Friday, May 30th, or Tuesday, May 4th.

2. Submit public comment: online, by mail, or on a pre-recorded line:

3. Review the #FairFares platform and Emergency COVID Fare Relief policy proposal to see the solutions that riders have put forward for a more equitable fare structure.

Join PA Transit Riders & Workers In New Campaign to Expand Transit Funding

image description: graphic of an outline of the state of PA with a bight yellow filling. “PA TRANSIT RIDERS & WORKERS” in the middle and a hand-drawn bus.

Transit riders and workers won’t stand for another round of service cuts, fare hikes, and layoffs! We’re building a grassroots vision to expand transit in our state – and we need you!

Public transit is essential for Pennsylvanians. It keeps us moving to jobs, food, and healthcare. We won’t let our state transit funding get put on the chopping block. It is time to build our movement.

Statewide Organizing Meeting to Expand PA Transit Funding
MEETING #2
Wednesday // April 28th
7pm – 8:30pm

We need all Pennsyvania transit riders and workers to attend this meeting. Together we can build a proposal that expands our funding and puts transit riders and workers first. We will win more service, increased frequency, cleaner bus, better bus stops, affordable housing, higher wages and more.

This movement will mobilize transit riders and workers, sway politicians, shift the public narrative, and expand transit funding to keep our buses running & transform our cities.

Join us at this second Statewide Campaign Meeting of Transit Riders and Workers to continue the conversation and build this movement.

Hosted by the Philadelphia Transit Riders Union, Pittsburghers for Public Transit, the Amalgamated Transit Union Joint Conference Board, 5th Square and Transit Forward Philadelphia.

Give us a call if you have any questions about how to use Zoom, or if you have any accessibility needs: 412-626-7353. Or email us at info@pittsburghforpublictransit.org


Pittsburghers for Public Transit and Philly Transit Riders Union are hiring 5 statewide organizing fellows to help us build this movement. Learn more and apply below:

Port Authority’s New Service Adjustments, with comment from @PGH_Bus_Info Hotline

New quarterly adjustments bring little change. Riders are left asking for the reversal of COVID service cuts.

Four times every year, the Port Authority adjusts its transit schedules and routes to account for rider’s requests, ridership shifts, construction, road closures and/or all of the other unexpected hiccups that might affect Pittsburgh roads. 

These quarterly adjustments were dialed back because of the pandemic, but they seem to be back on track. PPT has been publishing these blogs since 2019 with the @PGH_Bus_Info Hotline to give a rider’s perspective on what these adjustments mean for our service. Some quarters bring great changes (like Q4 2020 where we won weekend service on 95% of Local routes) some quarters are lackluster.

The next set of service adjustments will go into effect on Sunday, March 21, 2021. You can check Port Authority’s website to follow these quarterly service changes. Check out the upcoming changes below

The @PGH_Bus_Info Hotline is a volunteer-run twitter account that gives riders updates on Port Authority’s daily happenings. The Hotline has no official connection to the Port Authority (again, it is a volunteer-run twitter account) but the updates are helpful nonetheless. The Hotline is a big supporter of PPT, and an enormous advocate for public transit. We’re thankful for their support and happy to collab on these rider resources. Follow @PGH_Bus_Info Hotline on twitter for more grassroots transit updates.


Rundown of Q1 2021 Service adjustments, with takeaways from the @PGH_Bus_Info HotlineSee Port Authority’s Official Update Here

Welp, this quarter the service changes were pretty minor, and to be honest, they’re a bit disappointing. Riders truly need the Port Authority to reverse the service reductions they started last summer. Riders are still struggling with crowded buses or too little service availability and frequency.

Riders can’t wait until the next Quarterly Adjustments (or Summer 2021) to see the COVID reductions reversed. By then weather will be warming, vaccines will be more widely available, and ridership will be on the rise. It will be a celebratory time full of opportunity, but not core transit riders including many “essential workers” if transit stays a these low levels.


Please Note: The adjustments made in November temporarily redistributing service to avoid missed trips during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will remain in effect.

19L-Emsworth Limited – Schedules have been adjusted and some trip times have changed to improve on-time performance.

These are very small changes and shows more care for OTP than riders

22-McCoy – The outbound time point at McCoy Rd at Island Ave Far Side will be removed from the schedule.

28X-Airport Flyer – Weekday schedules have been adjusted and some trip times have changed to improve on-time performance.

31-Bridgeville – Weekday and weekend schedules have been adjusted and some trip times have changed to improve on-time performance.

Pretty lackluster changes and shows more care for OTP than riders

G31-Bridgeville Flyer – Schedules have been adjusted and some trip times have changed to improve on-time performance.

54-North Side-Oakland-South Side – The Fifth Ave at Bigelow Blvd time point has been replaced with Fifth Ave at University Place due to nearby construction.

no significant changes but the time point change in our view is a welcome and overdue change to clarify to riders that the old stop isn’t coming back and will lay the groundwork for a BRT Station being considered in the BRT Project

55-Glassport – Trips operating to Glassport will be rerouted via the 15th Street Bridge in anticipation of upcoming construction on the Jerome Street Bridge. *See below for more details.

These are our biggest disappointments for these quarterly Service Adjustments. While the 55, 56 and 59 is being detoured through some major residential neighborhoods that had their service cut back in 2007 and 2012, none of these buses will stop to service these communities. This is a big missed opportunity to support people who live and work on Walnut Street in McKeesport and River Rd in Port Vue Liberty.

56-Lincoln Place – Trips operating inbound to downtown will be rerouted via the 15th Street Bridge in anticipation of upcoming construction on the Jerome Street Bridge. *See below for more details.

See prior comments on 55

59-Mon Valley – Trips operating to Century III Mall will be rerouted via the 15th Street Bridge in anticipation of upcoming construction on the Jerome Street Bridge. *See below for more details.

See prior comments on 55

P7-McKeesport Flyer – Weekday schedules have been adjusted and some trip times have changed to improve on-time performance.

Pretty lackluster changes and shows more care for OTP Than riders

Changes don’t address restoring any of the many trips lost to Covid not even the early PM Rush trip that shouldn’t have been cut

P68-Braddock Hills Flyer – Weekday and weekend schedules have been adjusted and some trip times have changed due to a routing change at Monroeville Mall. No stops are affected.

Changes fails to add any service or trips and doesn’t extend any of the short trips to Forbes Hospital 

UPMC East still gets the shaft

P78-Oakmont Flyer – Schedules have been adjusted and some trip times have changed to improve on-time performance.

Pretty lackluster changes and shows more care for OTP Than riders

Changes fail to add services

Changes fail to add later trips or weekend service that is needed in this area


87-Friendship: Six Stops to be Discontinued

In anticipation of an upcoming City of Pittsburgh project, the following stops will be discontinued effective Sunday, March 21, 2021. Please use the designated alternative stops:

Discontinued StopAlternative Stop
Stanton Ave at #5013 (outbound)Stanton Ave opp Demarillac Home or Stanton Ave at Stanton CT East
Stanton Ave at #5012 (inbound)Stanton Ave at Demarillac Home or Stanton at Oranmore St
Stanton Ave at Stanton CT West (outbound)Stanton Ave at Stanton CT East or Stanton Ave opp McCabe St
Stanton Ave opp Stanton CT West (inbound)Stanton Ave at Oranmore St or Stanton Ave opp Hawthorne St
Stanton Ave at #4243 (outbound)Stanton Ave at Upview Terrace or Stanton Ave at Steps
Stanton Ave opp #4233 (inbound)Stanton Ave at Woodbine St Far Side or Stanton Ave opp Steps Far Side

*Temporary Routing Change in McKeesport 

Beginning Sunday, March 21, 2021 and until further notice, westbound bus routes 55-Glassport, 56-Lincoln Place, and 59-Mon Valley will be rerouted across the 15th Street Bridge in McKeesport in anticipation of the next phase of construction of PennDOT’s Jerome Street Bridge Rehabilitation Project.  

Westbound route 55, 56 and 59 buses coming from downtown McKeesport will cross over the 15th Street Bridge, travel down River Rd, and through the 10th Ward neighborhood on Atlantic Ave, before taking Ramp # 2 to return to regular route on Fifth Ave. A map is provided below.

The following stops will be temporarily discontinued through the duration of this construction phase: 

  • Lysle Blvd at Market
  • W 5th Ave at Ramp #1
  • W 5th Ave at Rebecca
  • W 5th Ave at Perry
  • W 5th Ave at Ramp #2A

A temporary stop will be established at Ramp #2 at W 5th Ave.  

Eastbound routes will continue to use the Jerome Street Bridge throughout construction. 

Summary and Closing Statement from @PGH_BUS_INFO Hotline re Port Authority’s Q1 2021 Service Adjustments

In closing, this is another round of disappointment-laden changes from Port Authority. An opportunity exists to improve service for riders. PAAC needs to reverse the COVID service cuts as soon as possible to better-serve existing riders and bring back those who have stopped riding.


Port Authority Customer Service can be reached via twitter, the website or phone: 412-442-2000


The @PGH_BUS_INFO Hotline can be reached by phone @ 412-759-3335 ONLY When PortAuthority Customer Service is Closed/unavailable 

Or via Twitter anytime: @PGH_BUS_INFO

The PGH Bus Info Hotline will be back on PPT’s blog in for the next set of Quarter Service Adjustments. See ya then!

Apply for the new Statewide Transit Rider Organizing Fellowship

Image description: photo of 8 Organizing Fellows from PPT’s “Beyond the East Busway” campaign with PPT organizer Josh Malloy. Everyone is standing on a set of stairs, smiling with fists in the air. Many are wearing PPT t-shirts and buttons.

Bus riders in PA are building a movement for public transit that is more affordable, reliable, and dignified for everyone in our state!

Who we are and what we do

PITTSBURGHERS FOR PUBLIC TRANSIT (PPT) and the PHILLY TRANSIT RIDERS UNION (PhillyTRU) are grassroots organizations of transit riders, transit workers, and residents. We mobilize together for equitable, affordable, and sustainable public transit.

What is the PA Statewide Transit Rider & Worker Organizing Fellowship?

The PA Statewide Transit Rider & Worker Organizing Fellowship will build a united and politically powerful constituency of PA transit riders and workers that can not be ignored. We will hire 5 fellows from regions across the state that are serviced by public transit systems – both large and small, urban and rural. 

These fellows will spend April to July working with Pittsburghers for Public Transit, the Philly Transit Riders Union, and local transit workers to develop a coordinated, grassroots network of local “transit rider unions”. These transit rider unions will build local leadership among rider and worker advocates, agitate around local and statewide issues, educate elected officials, and win tangible improvements for fellow transit riders in PA.

Requirements to apply

  • Applicants should live in cities like Allentown, Reading, Lancaster, York, Harrisburg, Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, Williamsport, State College, Altoona, Johnstown, or Erie
  • Applicants should have regular access to a computer or tablet, be familiar with putting in data in spreadsheets and reading spreadsheets, and familiar with video conferencing technology like Zoom and Google Meets.
  • Applicants must already be active within their community, with some demonstrated leadership or volunteering efforts.
  • Applicants should be regular transit riders or should have been regular transit riders in the past, with some familiarity with the regional transit routes. 
  • Applicants must commit to the four-month timeline and fulfill the outreach and meeting attendance detailed above.
PPT and Philly TRU are strongly encouraging women, POC, LGBTQIA, disabled people, poor, and other marginalized people to apply for the fellowship. We welcome applicants who are working full-time hours or have other regular commitments – this is a flexible commitment and we can find ways to make this work for your schedule.

The organizing skills that the organizing fellows will learn

The fellows will learn how to collectively run a successful statewide organizing campaign and set and meet attainable goals around community engagement. They will learn how to power-map local transit systems, identify allied stakeholders and volunteers, build and execute effective outreach plans, and engage local transit riders and workers to develop them as leaders in local and statewide organizing. Fellows will be able to talk with confidence about the importance of transit for individual household economic opportunity as well as statewide economic development. Fellows will be able to explain the difference between rider-led grassroots planning and top-down planning efforts.

The time commitment

Fellows should be ready to work with PPT & PhillyTRU to start their organizing immediately, beginning April 10th. The work will be part-time, and can be structured around other work or family commitments, but must be planned to achieve the goals listed below. Below is a general timeline of the campaign with expected duties/hours.

April

April 10th, from 11-1pm Fellowship Orientation– all Fellows will join for an orientation and planning call with Pittsburghers for Public Transit and the Philly Transit Riders Union

April 10th to April 27th Canvassing and Turnout– Fellows will host 5 canvass days (2-3 hrs each) to distribute masks to transit riders and build relationships by identifying local transit issues. The goal will be to build a regional contact list of a minimum of 100 local transit riders and 100 transit supporters. Organizing staff from Philly or Pittsburgh will travel to be present in-person to train fellows on canvassing and organizing. Fellows should recruit/train volunteers, and follow-up with new contacts. The fellow will work to turn out all new contacts to the statewide rider/worker strategy meeting on April 28th.  PPT and/or PhillyTRU organizers will provide in-person and virtual support to help the fellow in establishing a process for the canvasses, volunteer recruitment and follow-up.

April 28th, 7-8:30pm Statewide Grassroots Transit Summit– Fellows and the local riders who they have organized will join for a historic statewide call of transit riders and workers from across PA. Riders and workers will use the call to build a grassroots transit funding platform, and sketch out a strategy for winning improvements at the state and local levels.

May – July

Strategy and Advocacy for Grassroots Transit Funding Platform– Fellows will continue recruiting volunteers & developing leaders to facilitate weekly mask distributions. Fellows will continue follow-up calls to contacts. 

Fellows will join a weekly statewide leadership call, and a bi-weekly statewide rider call, to stay up to date in executing our campaign.

Fellows will organize local riders to plan and participate the public launch of the grassroots transit funding plan for PA. Fellows will also plan local actions and meet with local elected representatives to present demands and win their support.

Fellows will keep up frequent communication with PPT and/or PhillyTRU.

The compensation

Compensation will be $20/hr, with an expected minimum of 50 hours of work over the 4-month period. Travel costs and equipment reimbursements will be provided as needed.

Applicants can apply by filling out the google form application here, by emailing answers to the application questions to josh@pittsburghforpublictransit.org, or by sending your answers via mail to PPT at  5129 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh PA 15224.


Not interested in applying, but want to stay in touch about PA transit adovcacy? Sign up below!

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