“But we still need transit”: PPT’s Low-Income Fare Survey

Photo of Fawn Walker-Montgomery (PPT Board Member and Director of Take Action Mon Valley) delivering a powerful speech a rally for low-income fares. She stands at a podium with a sign that reads “Transit for People, Not For Profit” and speaks news channels’ microphones. A group of protesters stands in the back holding similar signs and a banner for PPT. The rally is outdoors and everyone is wearing a mask.

COVID hit us hard. But we still need transit.

COVID has caused thousands of us to lose jobs and income. But we still need transit to access life’s essentials: food, healthcare, jobs, housing, family.

Now more than ever, the Port Authority needs to start a low-income fare program. This would support riders, and support everyone throughout Allegheny County.

Please take this survey to advocate for a low-income fare program at Port Authority. We will not share any of the survey information from this survey without your express consent. Leave your contact info and we will follow up to learn more about you. We can fight for change.

Thank you. ❤️🚌

Would you benefit from an emergency low-income fare program?

ACCESS IS L♥VE: Help PPT make our organization and its work more accessible

Image of PPT Member Bill McDowell at a comfortable bus stop with shelter and sign, next to text that reads “ACCESS IS L♥VE”

Help PPT build an access-centered movement. Take the PPT Accessibility Survey now

In efforts to make Pittsburghers for Public Transit (PPT) a more accessible organization, we are conducting a survey to identify areas we need to improve on and things we can do differently.

Your thoughts irrespective of whether you attended a meeting or took part in a campaign are very valuable. We would appreciate it if you can spend around 15 minutes to complete our survey.

Your responses will help us to better engage transit riders and operators in Allegheny County in our efforts to expand and defend public transit.

* If you prefer to fill out a paper copy, need a large print copy, need the survey in another language, or need any other accommodations, email: Toni Haraldsen taharaldsen@gmail.com*
* If you prefer to fill this out over the phone, call or text to set up a time: Jessica Benner at 3042687672 *
* Si prefiere completar una copia en papel, necesita una copia en letra grande, necesita la encuesta en otro idioma o necesita cualquier otra adaptación, envíe un correo electrónico a: Toni Haraldsen taharaldsen@gmail.com *
* Si prefiere completar esto por teléfono, llame o envíe un mensaje de texto para programar una hora: Jessica Benner al 3042687672 *

Meme of Bernie Sanders saying “I am once again asking…. [you to take the PPT accessibility survey]”

And we wanted to share some resources that have been guiding PPT’s conversations around accessibility

Final Meeting on Updates to Bus Rapid Transit Plan

[image with a link to the presentation that Port Authority has been presenting at these meetings] Image description: rendering of a bus rapid transit system on Fifth Ave in Oakland, with clean bus shelters, curb bump-outs, bike lanes and large crosswalks with curb cuts.

PAT’s Final meeting as Downtown-Oakland-East End BRT system nears completion will be held Thursday, 1/28 at 6pm

For those of you who have followed the Downtown-Oakland Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project, you’ll know about the vital part that transit rider organizing has played in bringing more equity to this project. For those who may not be familiar, you can check out a brief recap here.

We’re very close to having a strong and equitable BRT project that will serve riders through Downtown, Uptown, Oakland, the entire East End and Allegheny County – but rider advocacy is still needed!

The final public meeting for the Downtown-Oakland BRT project is Thursday 1/28 at 6pm.

You can join to support equity and raise any final changes you’d like to see!

Here are some concerns that riders have been raising to the Port Authority and the City during these meetings:

  • The 61D, 71A, 71C, 71D will now end in Oakland, so transfers will now be needed for those riders who want to access downtown or the East End. This forces a transfer for riders in Uptown, Homewood, and other neighborhoods who rely on these routes to access food, healthcare and more.
  • Housing affordability, gentrification and displacement concerns loom large for Uptown around this project. Transit projects like Bus Rapid Transit have been linked to significant increases in the cost of housing, goods and services in other cities. We need the City to step in with meaningful affordability protections for the neighborhood and the entire city.
  • Accessibility for people with disabilities be addressed, especially in Uptown – Why is the City removing all accessible parking spots along Fifth and Forbes in Uptown, and into Oakland? Can’t the parking be moved to the right-hand side of the street? How is the City using this curb to curb development project throughout Oakland, Uptown and Downtown to address existing accessibility concerns like removing steps into businesses?
  • The plan will also bring significant Bus Stop Consolidation to nearly 20 Local Routes in the Eastern portion of the Port Authority system. This means that riders with disabilities, seniors, and other people with limited mobility will need to walk further to access transit. Does bus stop consolidation really serve riders best? It’s worth checking out the plan and whether your stops will be affected. From what we can tell stops will be removed from the 69, 67, 28x, 54C, 54D, 93, 64, 58, P3, all the 61s and 71s, 81, 83, and maybe more.

Join tomorrow’s meeting to learn about this project and push it across the finish line as something the will benefit all:

PPT’s Year-end Fundraising Drive is a success, with 320+ people raising $19,500

PPT members are ready to organize for transformation

Pittsburghers for Public Transit is proud to announce that we far exceeded even our reach goal for the organization’s 2020 year-end fundraiser – “Transit Towards Transformation” – with over 320 people helping to raise $19,500! These dollars and the community who raised them are absolutely essential for keeping our advocacy moving forward.

The American system is built on inequity. As we started in 2020, 140 milllion people were in poverty. Tens of thousands were without healthcare, struggling with education, crushed with debt, and on the brink of eviction. Then COVID hit, and things got far worse.

The pandemic has decimated transit systems, the riders who rely on them, and the cities and states that they move. The only way that we can support each other and defend our freedom to move is to organize together.

This incredible support for PPT amidst this time shows we are ready to organize for transformation.

Together in 2020, the PPT community:

More is ahead for 2021. These campaigns and victories will only expand as we build our base and sharpen our vision for change together.

We want to send a huge thank you to the 280 people who donated to the year-end fundraising campaign, and the 40 people who volunteered to help make it a success. We want to send a special thank you to Ms. Teaira Collins, Ms. Terri Minor Spencer, Ms. Cindy Rulli, and Ms. Nora Kelley who all shared their stories as people who lead successful campaigns for weekend service.

Most of all, thank you to everyone who has been active with PPT over the last year. Whether you came to a meeting, canvassed bus riders, signed a petition, or followed PPT’s newsletters and social media – we all contributed to this success. We all make this work impactful.

We have what it takes to transit toward transformation. Please invite your people to join PPT, to come to a meeting, to donate, to subscribe. We are showing that democratic grassroots organizing can bring change and we all need to be involved.

Transit Riders Act: Stop Solitary Confinement, Pass Breonna’s Law

Help bring an end to solitary confinement at the Allegheny County Jail, and pass Breonna’s Law to end no-knock warrants because transit justice is an intersectional issue!

Join members of Pittsburghers for Public Transit to support the county-wide effort to end Solitary Confinement and pass Breonna’s Law to ban no-knock warrants.

These campaigns are being led by the Alliance for Police Accountability. Visit APA’s website for more info on the campaign: https://apa-pgh.org/ballot/

We need 27,000 signatures to get these issues on the ballot in May.

Help pass these efforts into law by joining PPT on these volunteer canvass days. Opportunities to help either in-person or via phone will be updated throughout the campaign.

See our schedule of volunteer canvass days below to sign up. And reach out if there are any questions: info@pittsburghforpublictransit.org

Visit the Alliance for Police Accountability’s website to learn more and get directly involved with their organizing.

Transit Toward Transformation! Victory for McKees Rocks Weekend Service

Ms. Terri Minor Spencer, of West End P.O.W.E.R. with PPT board and staff during a pre-pandemic organizing meeting for the 22-McCoy weekend service restoration campaign.

“We rely heavily on the 22-McCoy. We use it for everything.”

Last month, Port Authority announced that it would extend weekend service to 99% of all Local routes. This decision brought victory to 6 different communities who organized neighborhood service restoration campaigns with PPT!

System-wide weekend service will truly be transformative for Allegheny County. For PPT’s year-end fundraising campaign “Transit Toward Transformation” we are telling the stories of the leaders who worked with us on some of these campaigns.

Read below to hear from Ms. Cindy Rulli about the victory on the 22-McCoy. Check out this blog to hear from Ms. Teaira Collins about the 93-Hazelwood campaign. And read this blog to hear from Ms. Nora Kelly about the 39-Brookline.

A message from Ms. Cindy Rulli about her community’s weekend service victory for the 22-McCoy:

My name is Cindy, and I am a resident of Mckees Rocks. My neighborhood is a very tight-knit community, and I know many of my neighbors in our housing complex. We rely heavily on the 22 McCoy. We use it for everything.

One of our biggest problems is that the 22 McCoy stops running for the weekend on Saturdays at 8 pm, which means that me and my neighbors miss out on important opportunities. For those of us who ride the bus, this has really limited our access to good jobs, what churches we can attend, and what holidays we spend with family. It feels like we are trapped in our homes.

Last year, my daughter’s house was hit by a drunk driver. I couldn’t go comfort my daughter and my grandkids because it happened after the last bus had already left our neighborhood. 

In 2018, we held two community meetings in the West End with Pittsburghers for Public Transit  to talk through our neighborhood’s transit needs, and to launch a petition to the Port Authority. Winning weekend service is a game changer for my neighbors and I! I can’t wait to begin to attend church services again, and to celebrate the holidays with my family.

Give to PPT’s year-end fundraising campaign to help more riders like Ms. Cindy organize for expanded transit in their communities.

We Did It. We #SavedTransit, For Now, with $14 Billion Federal Stimulus

Photo Credit: Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Transit riders and workers win $14 billion to keep their systems running during COVID-19. But more organizing will be needed in 2021.

We did it. With the stimulus package just ratified in the US. House and Senate, we have won $14 billion in emergency COVID relief for public transit. That will stave off the imminent transit cuts that were poised to pass with SEPTA in Philly and elsewhere across the Commonwealth. It is a down payment on transit to keep our systems and our riders moving, and something we can celebrate as this year comes to a close.

At a time of many hardships for transit riders and transit workers, it is an enormous relief that we are not also faced with critical cuts in access to food, healthcare and other needs, and nor facing imminent layoffs or supply shortages for transit workers due to funding.

Under this legislation, the Pittsburgh region will see an anticipated $162 million, and the Philadelphia region is set to receive $328 million.

For those of you outside of the Philly/Pittsburgh orbit, you can see a helpful detailed region-by-region breakdown and analysis of the federal legislation as it applies to transit on TransitCenter’s excellent blog.

This is the culmination of your work alongside thousands of other transit riders and workers across the country. It’s been a wild ride: from the beautiful 100+ transit rider call organized with our sisters and brothers at the Philly Transit Riders Union, to the statewide sign-on letter to our national delegation with more than 60 organizational signatories, to the Senator Casey Transit Town Hall with our ATU and TWU partners, and the TRUST Riders National Day of Action highlighting riders’ voices in 11 cities nationwide (check out this great video recap from PPT’s own Dean Mougianis!) Our friends at Transit Forward Philly and 5th Square also hosted a powerful Transit Forum in November to uplift the National Campaign for Transit Justice principles, which took us over the finish line.

 The fact that our federal legislators recognized that public transit cannot become yet another casualty of the pandemic—that truly our lives, our livelihoods, our economy, our environment are all at stake—is a testament to how strongly you have made your voices heard.  

So thank you. Thank you, too, to our Senate and House delegation who voted to #SaveTransit. There is more work to be done in the New Year to ensure that transit is fully funded to survive this crisis, and that federal transit funding achieves parity with highways and bridges, but for now, a chance to rest and celebrate.

Wishing all riders and workers a safe and restful holiday. Let’s continue to organize together in the New Year!

In Solidarity and Love,

Laura and the PPT family

Transit Towards Transformation: Victory for Brookline

“Having the bus all week long gives me the freedom to move.”

Public transit has always been essential for workers and our city – 2020 proved it. Pittsburghers for Public Transit has continued to organize with communities through this pandemic. We are winning the transit service that changes lives – but we need you involved to build our momentum.

Last month, Port Authority began running new and permanent weekend service on the 20, 22, 29, 36, 39, 60, 74, 93 routes! The new service means victory for 6 communities that organized with PPT over the past three years. And now, Allegheny County has weekend service on NEARLY ALL LOCAL ROUTES!

This year, for our year-end fundraiser, PPT is telling the stories of the campaigns and the people who fueled them.

We hope that you will join us in supporting this work, because transformation does not come without being organized and making demands.

A message from Nora Kelly, PPT Member and Leader of the 39-Brookline Campaign:

My name is Nora, and I am a resident of Brookline. I work in a hospital in the City and am a lifelong Pirates fan. After a long week at work, I would like nothing more than to reconnect with family, catch up on grocery shopping, or relax at a Pirates game downtown (remember when we could do that! It will be back soon).

But without Sunday service on the 39 bus, we’re stranded. The closest public transit stop on a Sunday is a 40 min walk away, at the T stop in Dormont. 

2 years ago, some fellow riders and I joined Pittsburghers for Public Transit in collecting signatures on a petition, asking for the Port Authority to reinstate Sunday service on the 39. We canvassed the businesses on Brookline Blvd and even testified in front of the Port Authority Board with a neighbor who is a bus driver!

Nearly 1,000 riders signed our petition and organized for expanded transit!

Our neighbors immediately connected with our demands. Seniors in the high rise that wanted to go to visit friends. Shop keepers and shoppers wanted to frequent the businesses on Brookline Blvd. Workers like me who can’t afford to take an Uber and who don’t always have Sundays off.

I’m proud that our efforts with PPT paid off! Now that we have weekend service, I look forward to spending my Sundays how I please– to be able to go food shopping for a forgotten ingredient and to be able to attend church again.

Having the bus all week long gives me the freedom to move.

Organizing Works: How We Are Moving $$ Away From the Mon-Oakland Connector & Funding Community Needs

They say you can’t fight City Hall.

Wait until they hear about how residents are organizing to beat the Mon- Oakland Connector, and redirecting that funding to their neighborhood’s essential needs: increased public transit, sidewalks, bus shelters, bike connections, affordable housing, and small business support.

On Monday, 12/14, it became official when City Council voted UNANIMOUSLY to pull $4.1 million from the Mayor’s misguided Mon-Oakland Connector Project. The amendment put forward by Councilman O’Connor reallocates that money to invest:

  • $1.9 million for the city’s Housing Opportunity Fund
  • $1 million for bike and pedestrian infrastructure in Hazelwood
  • $500,000 to housing in federally designated areas
  • $420,000 to the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s small business programs
  • $270,000 to the Avenues of Hope business district funding for historically Black neighborhoods

Check out these reports for more information on the amendment and vote:

Neighbors win when we organize together.

You can help keep the pressure up for change.

This victory comes after years of organized residents demanding transit justice

It all started back in 2015 when residents of Four Mile Run – a quiet enclave in Pittsburgh’s Greenfield neighborhood – learned about Bill Peduto’s plan to build a road through the Southwest corner of Schenley Park and “The Run” to accommodate driverless shuttles between Oakland and the still-to-be-completed Hazelwood Green development.

Needless to say, Run residents were outraged. After doing nothing to fix the devastating flooding that had been plaguing their neighborhood for a decade, the City was going to build a road that would allow privately-operated shuttles to run every 10 to 15 minutes through The Run’s small streets – next to its basketball court and playground. It would also introduce vehicle traffic into a public park on what is now a car-free bike path running next to a heavily-used playing field. Then, in order to justify the project, the City declared that this boutique shuttle service – which would move an anticipated 180 riders per day to a single destination – was intended to help alleviate the long-ignored mobility issues faced by residents in neighboring Hazelwood. These issues, including lack of access to healthy food, are carefully laid out in the Greater Hazelwood Neighborhood Plan – which calls for extending bus service to all parts of the City as well as improved bike and pedestrian access and safety – none of which were part of the City’s original shuttle road plan.

Over the next five years, residents and community organizers in Hazelwood, Greenfield and Oakland worked tirelessly to expose the Mon-Oakland Mobility Project for what it is – a vanity project for the Mayor and a taxpayer-funded subsidy for big-donor special-interest groups, including Almono LP and the universities in Oakland. Residents wrote countless letters, filed Right-to-Know requests, spoke out at public meetings, staged community marches, testified to City Council, lobbied individual Council members, and published articles in local newspapers like the Hazelwood Homepage.

Our Money. Our Solutions.

Then in Dec. of 2019, with the help of community organizing by Pittsburghers for Public Transit (PPT), a community-led alternative plan to the shuttle road was published: Our Money, Our Solutions.

Since then, nearly 1,250 individuals and 23 community organizations have signed on to Our Money, Our Solutions. Data analysts with student activist organization Tech4Society published a comprehensive report outlining how the expanded bus service in Our Money, Our Solutions would move vastly more riders at a far lower cost per rider to more places across the City – including Oakland in the same amount of time. 

Following the report, PPT petitioned and won weekend service for the 93 bus running from Hazelwood to Schenley Park, Squirrel Hill, Oakland, Bloomfield, and Lawrenceville – connecting residents to critical employment, food shopping, and healthcare destinations across the City. Pressure from Four Mile Run has also resulted in tangible progress in flood mitigation by the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority.

As for the Mon-Oakland Mobility Project itself – budgeted at $20+ million – the City has done nothing over the past five years but spent an estimated $2 million on design and consulting fees for a shuttle road that residents never asked for and do not want.

At a recent online public meeting, nearly 200 people – including Councilman O’Connor – joined to speak out against using public dollars to help private interests and in defense of equitable infrastructure investments that meet the needs of residents today. We are now on the threshold of starting to defund the Mon-Oakland Mobility Project and reallocating that money to help residents and small businesses in our most vulnerable communities.

When we fight, we win.

There’s still a long way to go, but the bottom line:

Organizing works.

Neighbors win when we organize together.

You can help keep the pressure up for change.

O’Connor Moves to Divest from Mon Oakland Connector, and Invest in Affordable Housing

Call your Councilperson and ask them to support O’Connor’s budget amendment to divest from Mon Oakland Connector and invest in the Affordable Housing Opportunity Fund

Councilmember Corey O’Connor announced on Thursday, 12/10, that he would introduce an amendment to the 2021 City Budget that would fund affordable housing, build safe sidewalks, and invest in black-owned businesses. His amendment would do this by divesting the $4.15 million that is proposed for the construction of the controversial Mon Oakland Connector roadway. This ammendment is a necessary move that provides vital resources to help our community combat the pandemic’s economic depression instead of building a luxury transportation option for the universities.

Although the amendment’s language will not be finalized until Monday, Councilman O’Connor intends to move the $4.15M that was intended for the Mon Oakland Connector to instead support the following essential needs:

  • $2 Million to the Affordable Housing Opportunity fund to help address the housing and evictions crisis compounded by the pandemic.
  • ~$1 Million to fund sidewalks in Hazelwood, and to create a pedestrian and bike-only path along Sylvan Ave.
  • ~$1 million to Avenues of Hope, a program to support small Black-owned businesses on 7 specific Main Streets in the City, including Irvine/2nd Ave. in Hazelwood. This is a vital investment as small-businesses are struggling and restaurant workers are losing work due to the pandemic.

Councilman O’Connor’s amendment would deliver clear and immediate benefits to his constituents and to communities throughout the city. This amendment is the type of decisive action that we need NOW in order to protect our families from the pandemic’s worst effects.

The amendment’s investment in the Affordable Housing Opportunity Fund also supports calls made by Pittsburgh United and other housing advocates to double the size of the AHOF in order to fight the housing crisis that the pandemic has only amplified. Investment in these programs creates far more equity in this City than DOMI’s Mon Oakland Connector project that has been met with nothing but years of community resistance.

CONTACT YOUR CITY COUNCIL PERSON NOW and ask them to support Councilman O’Connor’s amendment to get resources to PGH families that have been hard-hit by the pandemic, instead of building a luxury transportation choice for CMU.

City Council Contacts can be found on the City Council’s website, and are listed below:

Council District #1
Councilperson Bobby Wilson
Neighborhoods served: Allegheny center, Allegheny City Central, Allegheny West, Brighton Heights, Brightwood, East Allegheny, Fineview, Northview Heights, Observatory Hill, Spring Garden, Spring-Hill City, Summer Hill, Troy Hill Washington’s Landing.
Contact:  http://pittsburghpa.gov/district1/feedback
Office: 412-255-2135

Council District #2
Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith 
Neighborhoods Served: Banksville, Chartiers City, Crafton Heights, Duquesne Heights, East Carnegie, Elliot, Esplen, Fairywood, Mount Washington, Oakwood, Ridgemont, Sheraden, West End, Westwood, Windgap, 
Contact:  http://pittsburghpa.gov/district2/feedback
Office: 412-255-8963

Council District #3 
Councilman Bruce Kraus (City Council President)
Neighborhoods Served: Allentown, Arlington, Arlington Hts., Beltzhoover, Central Oakland, Knoxville, Mt. Oliver, Oakcliffe, South Oakland, South Side Flats, South Side Slopes, St.Clair. 
Contact:  http://pittsburghpa.gov/district3/feedback
Email: bruce.kraus@pittsburghpa.gov
Office 412-255-2130

Council District #4 
Councilwoman Anthony Coghill
Neighborhoods Served: Beechview, Bon Air, Brookline, Carrick, Mt. Washington, Overbrook.
Contact:  http://pittsburghpa.gov/district4/contact
Office: 412-255-2131

Council District #5 
Councilman Corey O’Connor 
Neighborhoods Served: Glen Hazel, Greenfield, Hays, Hazelwood, Lincoln Place, New Homestead, Regent Square, Squirrel Hill, Swisshelm Park.
Contact:  http://pittsburghpa.gov/district5/feedback
Office: 412-255-8965

Council District #6 
Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle 
Neighborhoods Served: Perry Hilltop, Hill District, Northside, Uptown, Downtown, Oakland. 
Contact: http://www.pittsburghpa.gov/district6/feedback
Office: 412-255-2134

Council District #7 
Councilwoman Deb Gross 
Neighborhoods Served: Bloomfield, Friendship, Highland Park, Lawrenceville, Morningside, Polish Hill, Stanton Heights, Strip District. 
Contact:  http://pittsburghpa.gov/district7/feedback
Office: 412-255-2140

Council District #8 
Councilman Erika Strassberger 
Neighborhoods Served: Shady Side, Squirrel Hill, Oakland, Point Breeze. 
Contact:  http://pittsburghpa.gov/district8/feedback
Office: 412-255-2133

Council District: #9 
Councilman (Reverend) Ricky Burgess
Neighborhoods Served: Garfield, East Liberty, Larimer, Homewood, Point Breeze, Friendship, Lincoln-Lemmington-Belmar, East Hills. 
Contact:  http://pittsburghpa.gov/district9/contact
Office: 412-255-2137

Mayor, City of Pittsburgh, Bill Peduto 412-255-2626

You can also testify in-person to support O’Connor’s amendment and defunding the police on Monday at 10am. Info on registering is available here.