Pre-Rally Meeting! Why We Fight for TransitForAllPA!

image description: a collage of photos of transit riders and workers from across PA taking action for improved transportation options.

Join this pre-rally meeting to connect with transit riders and transit workers from across the state to talk about the critical importance of transit for all Pennsylvania! Help us shape our messaging for the rally on April 30th and determine which Elected Officials we need to turn up the heat on. 

Learn more about the Mo’ Money! Mo’ Service! rally to push for the Governor’s proposed $282M for increased transit service in all 67 PA counties!

Meet PPTs Newest Communications Intern, Spencer!

image description: Spencer poses for a professional black and white headshot with a dark shirt against a white brick wall.

Meet Spencer Jackson! PPT’s newest intern, and a Pittsburgh-based Graphic Designer. Learn a little more about Spencer by reading his bio and some interview answers below:

Spencer is a seasoned graphic design professional skilled in innovation consulting and brand development. With a sharp eye for detail and a flair for creativity, he consistently delivers exceptional design solutions across industries. At RMU’s Massey Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Spencer collaborates with leadership to drive projects aligned with strategic goals, exceeding client expectations with visually captivating designs within tight deadlines.

Through his business, Cer J. Design, Spencer enhances brand recognition by crafting distinctive logos, staying updated on industry trends and utilizing cutting-edge design software. His diverse roles, including Graphic Designer at Robert Morris University and Boosted, showcase his versatility in print and digital design, consistently resonating with target audiences and contributing to project success. 

Spencer holds a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design and a Certificate in Entrepreneurship & Innovation from Robert Morris University, equipped with expertise in Adobe Creative Suite and Microsoft Office Suite. Recipient of accolades like the Bow Tie Award and RMU Signature Leadership Award, Spencer’s dedication to excellence and proven ability to translate concepts into compelling visuals make him an asset to any design-centric endeavor.

Time for a little Q&A with Spencer!

Q: What’s your experience with Pittsburgh transit? What routes have you ridden during different parts of your life? How has the system changed for you?

A: Throughout my life, I have ridden the 31 and 41. Coming from where I live, we only have the Washington Transit Authority Bus (Freedom Transit).

Q: What inspired you to pursue Graphic Design?

A: I’ve always been drawn to the power of visual communication. Whether it’s through branding, logos, or graphics, I believe design has the ability to convey messages and evoke emotions in ways that words alone cannot.

Q: As a graphic designer, how do you collaborate with organizations like Pittsburghers for Public Transit (PPT) to ensure that design solutions align with their advocacy goals and resonate with transit riders and workers?

A: Collaboration is key to creating impactful design solutions that meet the needs of advocacy organizations like Pittsburghers for Public Transit (PPT). By actively listening to their goals, understanding their target audience, and involving them in the design process, we can co-create visually compelling materials that effectively communicate their message. Regular feedback loops, iterative design revisions, and a shared commitment to the cause ensure that design solutions are not only aesthetically pleasing but also strategically aligned with advocacy objectives.

Q: As an Innovation Consultant at the Massey Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, how do you balance creativity with strategic objectives?

A: In my role, I collaborate closely with leadership to ensure that design projects align with strategic goals. While creativity is essential, it’s important to also consider the broader objectives and audience preferences to deliver impactful designs.

Q: Tell us about your venture, Cer J. Design, and how you craft compelling visual identities for clients.

A: Cer J. Design is a strategic design firm that bridges branding and strategy to create timeless and impactful brands. We specialize in crafting brand identities that resonate with audiences, fostering lasting connections and driving sustained success in the marketplace.

Q: What is your favorite music?

A: Music is my lifeline. My music taste is all over the place but that’s good for me. My music ranges from reggae to lofi/alternative music. Some of my favorite artists include:

  1. Cautious Clay
  2. Jungle
  3. Little Dragon
  4. Mereba
  5. Bob & Damian Marley

Work with Spencer this spring along with the other PPT Members who are shaping the narrative about the power of transit riders by signing up for the Communications Committee today!

Mo’ Money Mo’ Service! Rally+Lobby Day for Transit to Move All PA!

image description: Flyer for the Transit for All PA! Rally and Lobby Day on April 30th has the title” “Mo’ Money! Mo’ Service!” with the Transit for All PA! logo, a textbox that reads “Rally + Lobby Day!” and a passport stamp that says “April 30, 2024 Harrisburg Join Us!” with a photo of a transit advocate who has their fist raised in the air

Transit Rider+Worker Rally in Harrisburg on April 30th will urge state politicians to connect our communities and pass the first increase to transit funding in over a decade – Join us!

 

Whether we are black or white, whether we live in big cities, small towns, or rural communities, all Pennsylvanians deserve safe, reliable, dignified transportation to the places we need to go. 

But for years, partisan political in-fighting has kept us from reliable public transport systems to get us to our healthcare, jobs, schools and homes. 

Grassroots advocacy from Pennsylvania transit riders and transit workers has urged the Governor to propose a state budget that includes the first increase to public transit funding in over a decade! But this proposal won’t become law until it passes the House and Senate.

Now its time to turn up the pressure!  With a proposed $282 million to fund improved transit in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, transit riders and transit workers are heading to the PA Capitol on April 30th. We are going to let our elected officials know what expanded transit would mean for us and our communities – and we need you to join us!

By raising our voices together across race and place, we can win the transit improvements Pennsylvanians deserve. You can take action to expand affordable, reliable community transportation options by sending this letter to your elected representatives and joining us for the Harrisburg Lobby Day on  April 30th – RSVP Today! (lunch will be provided to all in-person RSVPs)

Accessibility information

What to expect: 

Attendees will join dozens of other transit riders, transit workers, and supportive elected officials from across the state at a press conference and rally in the central rotunda of the Pennsylvania Capital in Harrisburg.  Speakers will tell stories about the importance of transit in their lives and communities and call on elected officials to champion the Governor’s proposed transit funding increase.  After the press conference, attendees will have the opportunity to join small groups that will hold meetings with their individual elected officials to urge them to support expanded funding for transit. Lunch will be provided free to all event RSVPs. 

Transportation

Transportation is being coordinated by region, so attendees should check the box on the RSVP form if they would like to join the group traveling from their region. Organizers will reach out to you to coordinate further. If you want to reach out to staff, you can email info@pittsburghforpublictransit.org.

Food and water

Snacks and bottled water will be available for attendees throughout the event. After the press conference and rally attendees will eat lunch in the Capitol Building’s cafeteria. See their menu and weekly specials on their facebook page. All rally attendees who RSVP on this page’s form will have their lunch cost covered by Transit for All PA!.

Accessibility: 

Any accessibility needs that you share in the RSVP form will stay private with the planning staff. Accessibility needs for transportation will be shared with the people coordinating transportation to Harrisburg from your region. The Capitol Building is challenging to navigate. See the maps and info for wheelchair accessibility on the PA Capitol Building’s webpage.

COVID procedures: 

We encourage everyone to take an at-home COVID rapid test before arriving. Please stay home if you are feeling sick or have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19. Masks and hand sanitizer will be available for those who need them. There is outdoor space available around the Capitol Building’s campus.

PPT Uses New Complete Streets Advisory Group to Encourage Better Transit Infrastructure

image description: PPT Organizing Committee poses under a street sign for “Transit Way” during their Homewood bush shelter audit

PPT Members Organize for Transit Streets with the Renewed Complete Streets Advisory Group

PPT members have been organizing for accessible and safe transit streets for several years now, beginning with the Pittsburgh mayoral race of 2021, and with specific policy goals outlined in the Pittsburgh 100 Day Transit Platform. Last fall, PPT won one of our central demands, which was to restart the City’s Complete Streets Advisory Group, as a formal space for members of the transit community and disability community to lift up equitable pedestrian and transit access needs. 

The context: The City of Pittsburgh committed to the creation of the Complete Streets Advisory Group (CSAG) with the passage of the Complete Streets Policy in 2016. For several years, there was an active CSAG with members of the public and disability community, and which developed the City’s critical Pedestrian Safety Action Plan, but this group lapsed in 2019. One critical obligation that the City’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure (DOMI) never fulfilled during this time was reporting to Pittsburgh City Council on a biannual basis on the State of Mobility in the City, and sharing the City’s progress in building safe and accessible pedestrian, transit and cycling infrastructure. 

PPT’s role in CSAG: PPT staff organizer Nicole Gallagher and PPT members Gabriel McMorland, Alisa Grishman, Dean Mougianis, Hannah Dean, Bernadette Mosey and Gina Anderson have been invited to join the Complete Streets Advisory Group, and over the last six months, have been supporting staff at DOMI to focus more on public transit’s role in moving the residents of our City. These PPT members have also been regularly meeting with other members of the PPT organizing committee to identify opportunities for more dignified, safe, and accessible street infrastructure like sidewalks, bus shelters, and bus priority lanes in our City. 

Organizing for equitable transit-improving infrastructure is one of the five major campaign buckets in PPT’s 2024 Strategic Plan. We recently wrapped up our bus shelter audits, but if organizing for equitable infrastructure like expanded and connected sidewalks and more transit shelters is important to you, then join PPT’s Organizing Committee to help inform our work at the Complete Streets Advisory Group! 

One of the first tasks that the restarted Complete Streets Advisory Group was charged with was to review the DOMI’s outstanding Biennial Report on the State of Mobility in the City of Pittsburgh, in advance of its presentation to City Council. You can watch DOMI’s presentation and read the report here

We applaud the City’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure for compiling important data around the critical roles that transit, walking and biking plays for residents of this City, and laying out the investments in pedestrian, transit and bicycle infrastructure that have been made in the last several years. This transparency is welcome and helpful for residents to both understand how these resources are being expended, what barriers exist to more equitable infrastructure, and where more attention should be paid. 

The data revealed the progress that lays ahead for the City of Pittsburgh. One disheartening finding in The Crash Trend Analysis revealed that transit riders are some of the most vulnerable road users. However, we are encouraged to hear that the numbers demonstrate that the City’s traffic calming projects are working to reduce these tragic fatalities.

image description: a screenshot of a slide from DOMI’s Complete Streets report says: “Vulnerable Road User Crash Trends. Post-COVID VRU [vulnerable road users] Crashes are increasing across all categories. 39% VRU Crash. 110% Bicycle crash. 29% Pedestrian Crash”. 46z% Increase in the J40 areas. VRU indicates that the crash included both a motor vehicle AND a pedestrian, pedestrian conveyance (wheelchair, scooter, skateboard, etc) bicyclist (not including e-bikes), or other pedal-cyclist. Most of these crashes are occurring near Local Neighborhood Commercial Zones.”

What PPT continues to advocate for

We continue to encourage the City of Pittsburgh to invest more in transit and sidewalks, so that the resources of the City are allocated in balance with the use of each mode. Two important first steps that PPT put forward in the Pittsburgh 100 Day Transit Platform, and which were lifted up in Mayor Gainey’s Transition Plan (p. 98 and p.100) would be to develop a Pittsburgh Transit Plan (like that of the City of Philadelphia), and to create a Sidewalk Fund that developers would pay into, which could be used to address critical pedestrian access gaps. 

Join us in organizing for the City of Pittsburgh to be a Transit City, with all the equitable, safe, accessible infrastructure that we deserve! Connected sidewalks and quality transit reduces congestion, improves air quality, allows for denser, more amenity-rich neighborhoods, giving all of our communities the opportunity to thrive.

BIG CONSTRUCTION on the Red Line will close it all Summer

image description: photo of Red Line in Beechview with red stripe and text overlaid on the image that says “CONSTRUCTION”

The Red Line will be closed all summer due to some big (and important) construction projects. See more about the project details on PRT’s website here.

The good news is that this is the type of work that only needs to get done every 30-40 years…
…the bad news is that it’s finally time for PRT to do this work on the Red Line and it will continue until 2028.

The state-of-good-repair work is will cost nearly $150 Million. The work will be done in phases over the next 4 years. See PRT’s webpages for the project, or their press release below, for a full breakdown of what work will be done and when. You can also learn more about the project by watching/reading some of the news coverage thats linked at the bottom of this blog.

PRT did a great job at their first public meeting on 3/21. 80 people showed up in-person at the St. Catherine of Sienna Church in Beechview. Folks obviously had some big concerns and a lot of questions because we face 3 months of a total Red Line closure this summer, and years of delays and construction.

Beechview is a heavily Latino neighborhood, so people need to hear information and ask questions in both Spanish and English. PRT handled the bilingual interpretation of the meeting very well. We’re excited to see this as its been a demand of ours for years, and we hope its the beginning of a new more-accessible chapter at the agency.

PRT also had some important information to help alleviate some of the rider concerns: the replacement shuttles will be on a regular schedule throughout the day, there will be dedicated bus operators assigned to the route, the shuttles will be visible on the True Time app so people can see when the next one is coming, and Beechview residents will have a shuttle run down Broadway Ave. This was a positive start to the conversation, and PRT needs to stay responsive to rider concerns throughout this entire process.

We’re still looking forward to hearing more details about the project. Riders need to stay organized and attentive to ensure PRT is doing all it can to provide good service for its riders. Riders can learn more about PRT’s Red Line construction project with this map of the Red Line replacement shuttles that will run from the end of June to the end of August this summer.

image description: map from PRT that shows the Red Line replacement shuttle routes, that are detailed in the press release below.

Press release from PRT released March 19th, 2024:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (March 19, 2024) – Pittsburgh Regional Transit next month will embark on an ambitious, multi-year rehabilitation effort by investing more than $150 million to bolster the safety, reliability, and longevity of our region’s light-rail infrastructure, the agency announced today.

PRT will combine multiple projects that were initially intended to be completed separately to streamline operations, maximize efficiency, and minimize disruptions while enhancing the overall reliability and safety of this critical transit corridor.

The projects include expanding an ongoing effort to repair the concrete rail foundations in the downtown subway tunnels; replacing more than 10,000 feet of light-rail track and four grade crossings in  Castle Shannon, Mt. Lebanon, Dormont, Beechview, and inside the Mt. Lebanon and Mt. Washington Transit Tunnels; reconstructing Belasco Station in Beechview; upgrading Station Square and Dormont Junction light-rail stations;, and rehabilitating the Panhandle Bridge, the 1.2-mile span that takes light rail cars over the Monongahela River near Station Square.

Many of the projects are fully funded. PRT will continue to seek funding for those that are not.

“These projects are an important investment in our region’s future,” said PRT CEO Katharine Kelleman. “By fortifying our light-rail system, we’re building a stronger, safer, and more reliable foundation for years to come.”

PRT will join community members at a meeting in Beechview to discuss these projects and how they will impact riders at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 21 at St. Catherine of Siena Church on Broadway Avenue.

An online meeting will be held at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, April 2. A presentation at both meetings will include an overview of all projects.

For anyone unable to attend either meeting, the presentation will be available at www.rideprt.org/rail24 (this page will not be live until later this week).

The first project will begin with the closure of the light-rail system between Steel Plaza and Gateway stations in downtown Pittsburgh for about seven weeks immediately following the Pirates home opener on April 5.

The projects will continue consecutively through 2028. As one project ends, another will begin. Some will present only minor travel delays to riders while others will close portions of the light rail system and require significant detours.

Full project timelines and service information, including detours, will be announced as we approach additional project milestones:

PLINTH WORK: April 5 – May 30, 2024

PRT will expand the repairs and replacement of the plinth, the concrete beam upon which the light rail tracks sit in the downtown subway tunnels, to seven-days a week. This work has been occurring on-and-off on weekends only since late 2022.

During this project, rail cars coming from the South Hills will serve First Avenue and Steel Plaza stations before continuing to Penn Station, the otherwise inactive rail station located across the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway from The Pennsylvanian. 

Riders traveling to Gateway, North Side or Allegheny stations can exit rail vehicles at Penn Station and board a free shuttle bus to Gateway Station. From Gateway, riders can board a rail car to North Side and Allegheny stations. 

From Allegheny Station, rail cars will serve North Side and Gateway stations. Riders continuing toward the South Hills should exit rail cars at Gateway, board a shuttle bus from the temporary stop outside the station, and travel to Penn Station, where they can board a rail car to the South Hills. 

There will be no bus shuttles on May 4 and 5 due to the Pittsburgh Marathon and related events; on May 18 due to Open Streets; and on May 19 due to the UPMC Rush to Crush Cancer bike ride. 

After May 30, the work will continue some weekends through the summer. An additional multi-week closure to complete the work will likely be required in 2025. 

May 17 – June 15, 2024

Rail cars will single-track on between St. Anne Station and Willow Station while crews replace the tracks at Willow Street.

June 16 – July 14, 2024

Rail cars will single-track on the Red Line between Overbrook Junction and Dormont Junction while crews replace the tracks at Alfred Street.

June 16 –  August 31, 2024 

The Red Line will be closed from Overbrook Junction to South Hills Junction to accommodate several rail projects. During this closure, all Red Line trips will be detoured via the Blue Line and will be renamed “Blue Line” to avoid confusion.

PRT will operate two new temporary bus routes to cover this area:

  • The 42-Potomac will operate every 30 minutes (every 20 minutes from 6-9 a.m. and 3-6 p.m.) from Potomac Station to Station Square via Route 19.
  • The 37-Castle Shannon will operate every 30 minutes from Castle Shannon Station to Station Square via Castle Shannon Boulevard and Route 19.

These temporary bus routes will be included in PRT’s regular schedules and viewable in PRT’s and third-party real-time applications.

PRT will also operate a rail shuttle between Dormont Junction and Overbrook Junction to allow riders to travel south to Overbrook Junction and transfer to the Blue Line at Willow to board any inbound light-rail car to downtown Pittsburgh or outbound rail car to South Hills Village.

2025

The Mt. Washington Transit Tunnel will be closed for several months while the rail within the tunnel is replaced. Rail cars and buses will detour via the tracks that run through Pittsburgh’s Allentown neighborhood. The exact schedule for this project will be announced later this year.

2026

PRT will replace the tracks inside the Mt. Lebanon Transit Tunnel. This work is expected start in 2026.

2026-2028

The Panhandle Bridge will be rehabilitated for the first time in about 40 years. This work is expected to start in 2026 and will take approximately 30 months to complete.

Station Square and Dormont Junction Light-Rail Station Rehabilitation

Designs are expected to be complete by the end of 2024, although there is currently no estimated timeline for either of these projects as they are not yet fully funded.

Riders with questions are encouraged to contact Customer Service by calling 412-442-2000 on Twitter @PghTransitCare or via live chat at www.ridePRT.org

Red Line Construction Project + Public Meeting News Recap

Bad schedules steal our time: Tell your story to help workers and riders have better days

image description: left side of the graphic reads “Transit Workers and Transit Riders Deservve Better Schedules, Better Service, Better Days”. Right side of the graphic has illustration of riders hold signs standing behind a transit worker

Bad schedules steal time from transit workers and transit riders.

Take part in Transit Worker Appreciation Day by advocating for better scheduling at PRT. Share your story about how better schedules could mean better days for riders and workers:

 
image description: photo of bus with a quote from a Bus Operator on the 82, “82 is overcrowded all the time because its one of the few direct downtown routes since PRT cut the 61s and 71s, and the schedules don’t accommodate all the riders that now rely on this route.”
image description: photo of bus with a quote from a Bus Operator on the 6, “On the 6, they added 6 minutes to the inbounded but took 5 minutes from the outbound. And you have to walk 200 yards to the bathroom and back, but no time.”
image description: photo of a bus with a quote from a Bus Operator on the 54, “The schedule gives operators on the 54, from Polish Hill to Oakland 21 minutes, but from Oakland to Polish Hill on the same route is 13 minutes. That makes us late and kills our layover time.”
image description: photo of a bus with a quote from a Bus Operator on the 61c, “Schedules have been changing all the time with construction all over the place. The best improvement would be with communication of detouring to the public.”

‘Cus Workers Rock, We Roll: Support Transit Worker Appreciation Day March 18

image description: left side of the graphic has a Transit Worker Appreciation Day logo. Right side of the graphic has illustration of riders hold signs standing behind a transit worker

This Transit Worker Appreciation Day, March 18th, help workers, riders, and our system by calling for better schedules. Tell your story today to build the demand for better, more accurate scheduling.

Bad schedules are bad news for both workers and riders using our transit system. If you’ve been riding the routes the last few years you’ve probably seen some schedules that have made you scratch your head. For this year’s Transit Worker Appreciation Day, we’re uplifting the call from workers and riders to fix the schedules so that we can all have better days. Help us in the effort by signing up to canvass riders and workers on March 18th to collect stories about how schedules have impacted their lives and how they can be improved for us all.

Bad schedules affect the relationship between riders and operators. Some schedules are not realistic, so transit workers arrive late at stops or not at all. This obviously impacts bus riders who rely on those schedules to get to work, pick up their children, make it to appointments, and various other needs throughout their day.

These schedules don’t leave time for operators to take bathroom breaks or meal breaks. Can you imagine working a long day without more than five minutes to eat and no time for bathroom breaks? Operators are then forced to choose between making it as on time as they can for their riders that they know depend on them, or taking a break that they know they need. This should not be the case. Better schedules will lead to better days for our operators. 

For Transit Worker Appreciation Day we want to hear your stories about how bad schedules are impacting your life as a rider or as a worker. We will be out canvassing at bus stops on Monday, March 18th for Transit Worker Appreciation Day, to collect stories and show our workers that we stand with them. We want better days for our community of riders and workers.

Find us at these places throughout the day on Transit Worker Appreciation Day, Monday, March 18th:

8am-10am East Liberty at Highland Ave. and Penn Ave.

11am-1pm Squirrel Hill at Forbes Ave. and Murray Ave.

1pm-3pm in Homestead at Waterfront Giant Eagle

4pm-6pm Downtown at 6th St. and Smithfield St.

Sign up below to join us on March 18th to talk to riders and workers.

 

Elected Officials, Advocates Build Gameplan for Better+More Transit Service

image description: photo of panelists who spoke during PPT’s “Representing Our Routes: Legislative Roundtable to Fund the Transit Service We Deserve” event.

PPT roundtable highlights how legislators at all levels of government can expand funding to improve & expand our buses, trains, and access to opportunity

On February 20th, more than 70 elected officials, their staff, and local transit advocates gathered to chart a way forward to improve transit service quality by increasing funding for PRT operations. They agreed that whether at the local, County, State or Federal level, Elected Officials all have a roll to play in opening new funding to improve and expand transit service. And that transit advocates can build powerful, active, engaged constituencies to support them in their work.

Check out our video recap below and read the pamphlet published by PPT’s Research Committee that gives a vision for what transit can be for riders in Allegheny County, and see what elected officials at all levels are doing to get it done.

video description: 60-second YouTube video summarizes PPT’s vision for expanding transit service and what elected officials at all levels can do to make it happen.

Big thank-you to all of our panelists for joining us: Kate Burke, PPT Member and retired social worker, Hunter Lim, PPT Member and City of Pittsburgh Environmental Services Worker, Ross Nicotero, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85 President and Business Agent, Senator Jim Brewster, Representative Nick Pisciottano, Allegheny County Councilperson At-Large Bethany Hallam, Pittsburgh District 5 City Councilwoman Barb Warwick, City of Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey’s Chief Operations Officer Lisa Frank, Congresswoman Summer Lee’s Chief of Staff Wasi Muhhamed, and Allegheny County Executive Sara Innamorato’s Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Relations Ernest Rajakone. Also thank-you to all of the elected officials their staff members who joined us at the roundtable: Senator John Fetterman’s Staff, State Senator Lindsey William’s staff, Representative Joe McAndrew, Representative Jessica Benham, Representative Dan Frankel’s staff, Representative Lindsay Powell and her staff, Representative Abigail Salisbury’s staff, Representative Emily Kinhead’s staff, Pittsburgh City Controller Rachel Heisler’s staff, and staff at the City of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Department of Mobility and Infrastructure.

See the research pamphlet that outlines PPT’s vision for service and what actions elected officials are taking to fund it below (or see the .pdf here):


Pittsburghers for Public Transit and elected officials are championing legislative opportunities to fund the frequent, reliable and world-class public transit service our region deserves.

A first step: whether you’re a citizen at the ballot box or an elected official on the chamber floor, take the #VoteTransit pledge to say that transit is a core issue.

From Fox Chapel to Brentwood, McKeesport to McKees Rocks, all of us want our communities to be inclusive and vibrant. Public transit gives us a healthy, clean and affordable way for everyone to get around. But for too long, politicians at our local, state and federal level have not funded the transit service our regions need—and that has come at a big cost to our economy, our air quality, and our access to jobs and critical services.

We’re here today to lay out a bold vision for quality baseline transit service, and to celebrate the legislative champions for the public transit operating funding opportunities at the local, state and federal levels that could make this vision a reality.

Investment in quality public transit service yields dividends

Economy

For every $10 million invested in transit service, businesses in the community see $32 million in increased sales.[1]

Equity

Investing in quality transit service is the most profound way to support economic mobility, because commute times are the #1 indicator of whether a household can come out of poverty.[2]

Environment

A trip on public transit emits 55% percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than driving or ride-hailing alone,[3] and significantly reduces local air pollution. This is especially necessary as transportation emissions are the largest contributor to climate change in the US.

Health and Aging in Place

Choosing public transit over a private vehicle reduces an individual’s traffic crash risk by 90%.[4] High-quality local public transit is essential for maintaining independence and social connection for people of all ages.

image description: two people board the T in Downtown Pittsburgh.

The inaction of some elected officials has led to a huge decline in transit service coverage, frequency and span in Allegheny County.

image description: a graph shows Total PRT Transit Service: Vehicle Revenue Hours has declined from ~2,350,00 hours in 2000 to ~1,700,000 in 2020.
image description: graph shows Total PRT Annual Ridership: Unlinked Passenger Trips have fallen from ~75,000,000 in 2000 to 62,500,000 in 2020.

In the last twenty years, due to inadequate investment, more than 37% of total PRT transit service has been cut in our region. That has led to a transit system that doesn’t go where we need it to go, long wait times between buses, and service that doesn’t always run at the times we need it.

Over the last 20 years, the funding for Pittsburgh Regional Transit operations has been cut or remained static, which has not kept pace with inflation and rising costs.

image description: a group of transit advocates hold signs outside City Council chambers that say, “Transit Moves us”, and “City Resident, Transit Rider”.

It’s time to have a transit service vision to match our region’s needs.

PPT has developed a vision for the frequent, expansive, quality baseline transit service we want to see, that gets people where they need to go, when they need to get there:

2023 Service Frequency by Median Headway by Route:

1. Service Coverage

All residents should have access to transit within walking distance of their home. Currently, only 48% of residents in the county have walkable access to transit, an 11% decrease from last year.[5] We envision service coverage that more resembles the visionary Transit Development Plan proposal in 2009.

30 routes that were proposed in the 2009 Transit Development Plan have since been cut or were never put into effect.

2. High Frequency

Buses and trains should come at a minimum of every 30 min, and higher ridership routes should come a minimum of every 15 minutes.

Currently, only 25.6% of Allegheny County residents currently have weekday service frequencies of 30 min or better, and only 17.8% of Allegheny County residents currently have Saturday service frequencies of 30 min or better.

3. Available at all hours, to service many kinds of jobs and needs

Transit should run at least from 4:30 am-1:30 am for all rapid, local, and coverage routes, with 24 hour service for high activity locations. 7 day/week service should continue to be available on all routes.

image description: dozens of people wait to board the T in Steel Plaza

Political leaders at all levels of government are championing the funding opportunities that could make our transit vision possible.

City/County

Bulk discount fare purchasing programs are an important source of operating revenue – in the Seattle region this program accounted for more than 50% of Sound Transit’s total fare revenue. But PRT does not currently have such a fare product available for employers to purchase.

City and County officials could advocate for such a program to be implemented at PRT, purchase passes for City and County staff, and then pass Transportation Demand Management (TDM) policies to encourage employers to participate.

State

Governor Shapiro has just announced in his budget address a proposed increase in the allocation of the existing sales tax of 1.75% to the Public Transportation Trust Fund, which provides funding for transit service to all 67 counties. This would bring an additional $40 million annually for transit service in Allegheny County riders. Elected leaders in the House and Senate can support this proposal and expand upon this important opportunity.

Federal

The federal government has long neglected its role in funding transit service. The recently released bill “Stronger Communities through Better Transit Act” introduced by Congressman Hank Johnson, would for the first time provide transit service formula funds to transit agencies of PRT’s size and larger. This bill would allow for an increase of service in Allegheny County of up to 37%, which would be transformative for riders and for our region.

image description: PPT members rally to support expanded transit service, and to fight against the cuts to the 61 and 71 buses, in the Fall of 2023

[1] APTAAdmin. (2023, September 28). Public Transportation Facts – American Public Transportation Association. American Public Transportation Association. https://www.apta.com/news-publications/public-transportation-facts/

[2] Chetty, R., Hendren, N., Kline, P., & Saez, E. (2014b). Where is the Land of Opportunity? The Geography of Intergenerational Mobility in the United States. https://doi.org/10.3386/w19843

[3] Public transportation’s impacts on greenhouse gas emissions. (2021, August 19). Center for Neighborhood Technology. https://cnt.org/blog/public-transportations-impacts-on-greenhouse-gas-emissions

[4] APTA. (2016, September). The Hidden Traffic Safety Solution: Public Transportation. https://www.apta.com/wp-content/uploads/Resources/resources/reportsandpublications/Documents/APTA-Hidden-Traffic-Safety-Solution-Public-Transportation.pdf

[5] PRT Annual Service Report, 2023.

Change is Coming: We’re Ready for a PRT Board With Members Who Ride The Bus

image description: yellow graphic has photos of 6 PRT Board Members who Sara Innamorato controls the appointments of, with text below that reads: “PRT Board: Change is Coming”.

New County Executive Innamorato controls 6 appointees to the PRT Board of Directors. (5 of those appointments are sitting on expired terms, and at least 2 of those seats need to be filled by new people. There’s no denying it: changes are coming to the PRT Board)

We are eager to see appointees who ride transit and who will be fierce advocates for riders and our service.

The new County Executive has the power to immediately appoint visionary leaders to serve on the PRT Board and build a transit agency that serves all of Allegheny County. The PPT Research Committee wrote this quick memo to give background on what the board does and what kinds of people we want to see appointed to be the next leaders of our transit system. If you want to get involved in the Research Committee, sign up here!

Powers & Importance of PRT Board

  • The PRT Board is an 11-member volunteer body that has the ultimate responsibility for our transit system.
  • The board approves/denies resolutions to improve transit service, public engagement, fare affordability, worker support, capital investments, etc through the board committees:
    • Planning and Stakeholder Relations Committee
    • Finance Committee
    • Performance Oversight Committee
    • Technology Committee
  • They can approve and amend PRT’s annual budgets
  • The board employs and holds accountable the PRT CEO
  • And the board can use their position to advocate for policies and practices that support transit justice

How do people get onto the PRT Board of Directors?

The Allegheny County Executive has control over the majority of appointments to the PRT Board. This is why PPT did so much work to ensure that a champion for transit was elected into this position last year. We are excited to have a County Executive who shares our values around community leadership on agency boards, and who has a process to encourage residents to apply for those positions.

Here’s the full breakdown of how Board Members get appointed to serve:

  • 4 Board members are appointed directly by the County Executive
  • 2 members are appointed by the County Executive with County Council approval
  • 1 is appointed by the Governor
  • 1 is appointed by President Pro Tempore of the Senate (Republican)
  • 1 is appointed by the Senate Minority Leader (Democrat)
  • 1 is appointed by the Speaker of the PA House of Representatives (Democrat)
  • 1 is appointed by the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives (Republican)

Board members are appointed to 4-yr terms and are term-limited after 3 terms. For more information, check out the Board page of PRT’s Website.

What criteria do we think make for good transit agency board appointees?

We are eager to see County Executive Innamorato appoint Board Members who meet many of these criteria:

  • Non-car owners who rely on transit
  • Regular transit riders with disabilities/mobility issues
  • Active members of local advocates for anti-poverty/transportation justice/economic justice/food access
  • SNAP/EBT recipients, especially those involved in DHS’ discount fare pilot program
  • Transit riders from immigrant communities
  • Transit workers, members of ATU Local 85
  • People from communities of color
  • Transportation professionals (urban planners, transit/active transportation engineers) with relevant public transit experience

Here’s the rundown of the PRT Board Members serving at the start of 2024, who appointed them, and when their term expires. The first 6 appointments listed are controlled by the County Executive:

Jeff Letwin

  • Appointed by County Executive
  • Board Chair
  • Chair of Governance Committee and an ex-officio member of all committees.
  • First appointed July 2005
  • Term ended 9/01/2023 
  • Term limited, cannot be reappointed

Michelle Zmijanac

  • Appointed by County Executive
  • Chair of Performance Oversite and Monitoring Committee
  • First appointed January 2016
  • Term ended 9/01/2023

Jennifer Liptak

  • Appointed by County Executive
  • Chair of Technology Committee
  • First appointed March 2017
  • Term ends 9/17/2024

Stephanie Turman

  • Appointed by County Executive
  • First appointed September 2017
  • Term ended 12/31/2022

John Tague

  • Appointed by County Executive with Council Approval
  • Chair of Planning and Stakeholders Committee
  • First appointed September 2012
  • Term ended 9/17/2023
  • Term limited, cannot be reappointed

Ann Ogoreuc

  • Appointed by County Executive with Council Approval
  • Chair of Finance Committee
  • First appointed February 2017
  • Term ended 9/17/2023

Ali Doyle

  • Appointed by Governor
  • Term Ends 7/26

Senator Jim Brewster

  • Chair of Financial Audit Committee
  • Appointed by Senate Democratic leader
  • Term Ended 2/23

Joseph C. Totten

  • Appointed by Senate Republican leader
  • Term Ends 10/24

Nick Pisciottano

  • Appointed by Democratic leader in the PA House
  • Term Ends

Lori Mizgorski

  • Appointed by Republican leader in PA House
  • Term Ends 9/24

Jeff Letwin and John Tague are on expired terms, and they are term-limited. Executive Innamorato has an opportunity to appoint new members to serve in their seats. PPT looks forward to seeing members appointed who meet the criteria that we outline above.

If you’ve got a knack for research and want to help improve our transit system, sign up to join PPT’s Research Committee here:

TAKE ACTION! Write Your State Officials to Support the Governor’s Transit Funding Plan

image description: photo of a person wearing a yellow shirt riding a bus, next to superimposed text that reads, “Tell PA Lawmakers: Support Public Transit. Paid for by Clean Air Action Fund.

Take Action Now to Expand Access for All Pennsylvanians!

 

Gov. Shapiro needs to include transportation funding in his budget address!

Whether we live in Harrisburg or Pittsburgh, Wilkes Barre or Erie, rural towns or Philadelphia, all Pennsylvanians deserve safe, reliable, dignified access to the places they need to go. 

But right now, transit riders and agencies across our state are facing service cuts, fare hikes and layoffs because politicians have not prioritized funding. Riders have been organizing for change and we’re making headway – but we need you to take action now.

On Sunday, January 28, Governor Josh Shapiro previewed his budget address, proposing a 1.75% increase in the state sales tax allocation to public transportation. This vital measure does not create new taxes and will add $282.8 million in recurring, state operations funding to keep transit agencies across the Commonwealth providing their current levels of service. We are excited for this proposal, but after a similar measure stalled in the PA Senate in December, we need to make sure this transit funding is highlighted everywhere and then passed!

Communities thrive when neighbors can access local businesses, healthy food, schools, and healthcare. Every single one of PA’s 67 counties have some form of public transit service. And with increased priority, more public transit would benefit rural communities, small towns and cities across our state.

You can help build a stronger, more connected Pennsylvania by writing to your elected officials and asking them to prioritize public transportation investment today.