ACE 100 Days: 18,000+ Residents Said Affordable, Reliable Transit Was Important in the All-In Allegheny Survey. So What’s Next?

Image description: More than a dozen people stand on a staircase smiling and holding signs reading “All in Allegheny” and “Reliable, Modern Transportation and Infrastructure” with County Executive Sara Innamorato in the center.

Transit riders and workers are setting the agenda and continuing to work toward our goals

This past week, new County Executive Sara Innamorato completed her first 100 Days in office, posted the results of the Countywide All-In Allegheny survey of resident needs and priorities, and launched her Administration’s All-In Action Plan, which lays out the County’s agenda for the next few years.

In November 2023, Pittsburghers for Public Transit’s Executive Director Laura Chu Wiens was named a Co-Chair of new County Executive Sara Innamorato’s Transition Committee for Transportation and Infrastructure. Over the last several months, Laura facilitated the committee’s members, which also included PPT member Alisa Grishman and ATU Local 85 President Business Agent Ross Nicotero, in developing and sharing the All in Allegheny survey. This survey was the most expansive and inclusive outreach effort in our County’s history.

The results? More than 18,000 Allegheny County residents overwhelmingly named affordable, reliable public transit as top priority for the new ACE Administration. 

  • Allegheny County residents identified having a low-income transit fare program as critical to addressing the needs of workers, placing it as a #2 priority for workforce needs in the survey of more than 18,000 Allegheny County respondents.
  • Under the broad topic of infrastructure, survey respondents also selected affordable, reliable public transportation options as a the #2 priority overall. Residents living in the City of Pittsburgh and immediate surrounds, and those between the ages of 18-44, placed it as their top choice. Importantly, those that selected public transportation as their highest infrastructure priority were also those that had access to a baseline quality of bus service or the T; in other words, residents reliably see the value of public transportation if it’s made available to them.

The All In Action Plan that County Executive Innamorato published on her 100th Day in office is now live. While it makes mention of some transit rider priorities- launching the permanent low-income fare program (but at a 50% discount), expanding language access on transit, expanding transit-oriented development and housing affordability, and asking Pittsburgh Regional Transit to consider adding a service expansion plan to its Bus Network redesign process- there is much more that we expect to achieve with this new Administration. In early 2023, transit riders developed the list of demands for the County Executive, which we will continue to elevate as part of this year’s #VoteTransit bucket of our annual Strategic Plan. 

Transit riders and workers with Pittsburghers for Public Transit will continue to organize towards these six important goals over the course of County Executive’s tenure: 

  1. For a Permanent Zero Transit Fare program for SNAP Households
  2. For Rider Representation and Board Accountability In Decision-Making at Pittsburgh Regional Transit (PRT)
  3. For Equitable and Expanded Transit Funding (like supporting the statewide increase to transit funding for service, and launching a PRT Bulk Discount Employer Pass Program)
  4. For Fully Accessible Transit, including for Disability and language access. 
  5. For Policies Ensuring High-Quality Affordable Housing near High-Quality Transit 
  6. For Reliable, Expanded Transit Service 
    • To work with PRT to ramp up its recruitment strategy and incentives, and speak with transit workers to address morale so that workers feel supported in the role.
    • To address the historic schedule unreliability by ensuring that PRT schedulers provide adequate run time for transit operators to get to their stops. 
    • To direct PRT to develop a transit service expansion plan, or “visionary transit service plan” during their Bus Network Redesign

In just these last few months, there has been a clear and positive shift in the level of collaboration between the office of the County Executive, Pittsburgh Regional Transit, and PPT. With a transit champion in County Executive Innamorato, we look forward to advancing transit rider priorities over the next few years– and meeting our region’s economic, environmental and equity needs at the same time!

Congratulations to PPT’s New Board Members!

image description: graphic includes the portraits of all 7 people who won positions on PPT’s Board of Directors in the 2023 board elections.

7 PPT Members were elected to the PPT Board until 2025

Pittsburghers for Public Transit is unique in having a fully democratically, member-elected Board of Directors. Every year, half of the general member seats are voted upon for a two-year term, as well as one of the two specific seats allocated for members of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU). The PPT Board of Directors is comprised of some of our most active organizational leaders, and sets PPT’s strategic direction, oversees staff and the finances of the organization. This summer, because dozens of PPT members called their peer PPT activists, we had a record number of new members join the organization for the Summer Membership Drive, vote in the Board elections, and party down with us at the Summer Member Picnic!

Congratulations to the PPT Members who were elected to the Board for the 6 PPT General Member seats: Ms. Teaira Collins, Bonnie Fan, Paul O’Hanlon, Gabriel McMorland, Dean Mougianis, Nickole Nesby. And congratulations to Kevin Joa, who was elected into the PPT Board seat reserved for unionized transit workers.

We’re thrilled and humbled by the level of wisdom, dedication, and love that these folks bring to the PPT community. It must be said, however, that all of the candidates that ran for the Board are incredible, selfless and deeply appreciated members of our community.

Become a PPT Member today to build the power of our grassroots union

Read some more about the PPT Members who were elected to the Board in our 2023 Board Elections:

Bonnie Fan (they/them)

Image Description: Bonnie Fan speaks at a rally outside Carnegie Mellon University

Bonnie worked in transit for four years before coming to Pittsburgh, seeing laid bare the lack of regard for operators, the policing of riders, and the power-grabbing mindset of management that prevented any kind of internal change possible. While joining Otolunji Oboi Reed’s Equiticity campaign prior, they found a stronger force in mobility justice worked centered in Black and Brown communities.

Seeing the work made possible with PPT’s grassroots mobilization has changed the way Bonnie orients her work. In seeing the narrative arcs of other cities play out, especially for post industrial cities, they are deeply concerned by the secret privilege of private developers, universities and tech companies when it comes to how the public domain should be made and who it should be made for. In this landscape, also complicated by political and financial relationships, PPT has been one of the few where grassroots voice has been able to fight and win for riders and workers without compromise.

Much of the other work they are involved in is against predictive policing and #NoTechForICE – all of which falls in the realm of tools and decisions made in favor of existing oppressive power dynamics.

Dean Mougianis (he/him)

Image Description: Photo of Dean Mougianis holding his video camera on a bus trip to Harrisburg

Dean Mougianis has been a media producer for forty years and an educator for twenty-five. Dean began his media misadventures on a gap year (well, several) in his education when he fell in with a group of people who had the audacious idea of founding a radio station. This became WYEP-FM. He later transitioned to video, worked in a variety of production facilities, then struck out on his own as a freelancer. As a producer, writer, video editor and motion graphic artist, Dean has worked with a wide range of commercial clients, had enough of that, and began working instead for non-profit, labor, and social service clients.

Somewhere in mid-life, Dean decided to pay back the legacy of many people who taught him so much and sought out teaching opportunities. As an educator for the past twenty-five years, Dean has taught courses and workshops in various aspects of video production from beginner to advanced for Pittsburgh Filmmakers, Grove City College, Laroche College, and the Allegheny Intermediate Unit. An early convert to digital media, Dean now specializes in teaching motion graphics and animation.

Dean sees his primary role in assisting and advancing PPT’s communications and media efforts. Along with this he wishes to help develop membership participation and leadership and do what he can to connect PPT to broader transit advocacy coalitions at the state and national level.

Gabriel McMorland (she/her)

Image Description: Gabriel McMorland smiles, looking down, with a blue ribbon on her shirt

Gabriel is a white trans woman, who is also blind and transit-dependent. She has been active with PPT since 2015, and was previously on the Coordinating Committee from 2017-2022. Gabriel was very involved with the Don’t Criminalize Transit Riders campaign and early service campaigns, and on the current campaign around scooters and sidewalks. She was the Community Organizer at The Thomas Merton Center from 2014-2017, and TMC’s Executive Director from 2017-2023, doing work that ranged across racial justice, ecological defense, labor solidarity, immigrant rights, and other moves towards liberation. She is also a musician, and played bass in the live performance of Wheels on the Bus at PPT’s end-of-year celebration. 

Gabriel invests time and leadership into PPT because she needs PPT to succeed. She has seen many times how PPT includes the sidewalks, curb cuts, and crosswalks as part of the overall transit system, and how PPT has centered people with disabilities to ensure that everyone’s needs are served. She believes that the outcomes of PPT’s work are practical, tangible, and truly affect peoples’ lives: PPT enacts its radical values of racial justice and worker justice, and makes them real through organizing. Gabriel’s vision for PPT is to ensure that organizing and leadership development continue to be at the heart of PPT’s work. 

Nickole Nesby (she/her)

Image Description: Mayor Nesby smiles for a selfie in front of a white wall

The honorable Mayor Nickole Nesby is a dedicated public servant with 20 years’ experience in legislative government. In November 2017, Nesby successfully unseated incumbent Phillip Krivacek to become the first female and African American to head the city of Duquesne, PA. She was elected to PPT’s Coordinating Committee in 2019 and is now running for her third term.

No stranger to socioeconomic disparity, Ms. Nesby was born in McKeesport, PA. Her parents were hard working steel mill workers. One of seven siblings who she had to raise when her mother fell victim to the crack epidemic, she refused to allow poverty to derail her goal of attaining higher education. Nesby recently completed her fourth degree, an MBS from Northcentral University in Organizational Leadership Specializing in Nonprofit. While Mayor Nesby has no children of her own, she works to build spaces where all her community’s children can succeed.

As a first-term mayor, Nesby is dedicated to improving the quality of life for Duquesne’s population of 5,481. Plagued by systemic poverty, illiteracy and incarceration, 80% percent of its residents are welfare recipients and of that number, half have criminal records.  Deemed the worst-performing school system in Pennsylvania, Duquesne was forced to close its high school in 2007.

Duquesne’s future may appear bleak, but Mayor Nesby’s aspiration is to make Duquesne a better place to live. She works so that residents have a quality education, affordable housing, better transportation, healthcare, and parks. These are the things that all people deserve, and they can be real by working together.

Paul O’Hanlon (he/him)

Image Description: Paul O’Hanlon sitting in his wheelchair outside in a garden.

My name is Paul O’Hanlon, I’m a retired lawyer.  From 2001 to 2014, I worked for a disability rights law firm, and before that I was the Senior Housing Attorney and Housing Unit Chief with Neighborhood Legal Services Association in Pittsburgh.

I caught the “transit bug” in 1991.  At that time Port Authority began the long process of becoming accessible to passengers in wheelchairs.  Since that time I’ve been involved in advocating for the best, most accessible, area-wide and affordable public transit.  

I have been involved in a number of advocacy issues in Allegheny County, particularly around housing, accessible public transportation, and voter engagement.

Teaira Collins (she/her)

Image description: Teara Collins holds a megaphone while speaking at a PPT rally in 2020

Teaira Collins is a lifelong transit rider, a Hazelwood community leader, a mother and foster mother, and now a grandmother to six grandchildren. Ms. Teaira met Laura Chu Wiens while at Port Authority testifying for improved transit service in Hazelwood, and has since become a leader in PPT’s Our Money, Our Solutions campaign for weekend service on the 93 and the extension of the 75. Ms. Teaira spoke at the City Council Capital Budget hearing press conference about the Mon-Oakland Connector alongside Barb Warwick, and on behalf of PPT during the Poor People’s Campaign Jubilee Caravan. She recently traveled to Atlanta on behalf of PPT on a delegation to connect with other Human Rights organizers across North America, and raise the important connections between public transit, housing, healthcare and food access. She is very active in the community, volunteering with The Mission Continues to help veterans and with the Hazelwood Family Support Center to uplift young mothers. Ms. Teaira also runs her own non-profit to advocate for those like her son Judah and other famlies with children who have Down Syndrome, and fundraises for the National Kidney Foundation to help research related to her daughter’s health. 

Ms. Teaira’s excited about winning weekend service for underserved neighborhoods like Hazelwood, and is passionate about fighting for reliable and safe transit for all communities. She is dedicated to the fight for a permanent low-income fare program because it is needed now more than ever for all communities. Ms Teaira Collins has been:

  • A Hazelwood leader in PPT’s Our Money, Our Solutions campaign to create a resident-based mobility alternative to the Mon-Oakland Connector
  • A PPT organizing fellow for the FairFares campaign and helped sign up dozens of riders for the pilot program
  • A Volunteer and community advocate for The Mission Continues, Hazelwood Family Support Center, PPS PTA, and for people with Down Syndrome and Kidney Disease.
  • A Member of the Pittsburgh Food Policy Council Board of Directors

Kevin Joa (he/him)

Image DescriptionL Kevin Joa wears his PRT uniform for a selfie in front of a chainlink fence

Kevin is a Port Authority bus operator and member of ATU Local 85. He was first elected to PPT’s Coordinating Committee in 2019 and won his re-election in 2021. Kevin has taken part in PPT campaigns to encourage Port Authority board members to ride transit; push for expanded transit funding in PA; and build more affordable housing near great transit. Kevin was part of bus ride-alongs with County Executive candidates to lay out demands for policies that support transit riders and workers for the new leadership of the region. He was most recently quoted on WESA for speaking out at the Pittsburgh City Council hearing about the Spin scooter pilot program about the ways that he’s observed the e-scooters affecting transit access at bus stops. 

Before joining Local 85 as a bus operator, Kevin worked at a local public school system. Kevin also is a proud owner of a beautiful dog!

The E-Scooter Pilot Program Is Dead – but It Isn’t a Victory Until We Have Real Solutions

Image of a yellow sign reading “Pittsburgh 100 Day Transit Platform” set against a bus shelter with a reflection of a transit rider waiting and a red PRT bus riding past. Image credit: Teireik Williams

When it Comes to Shared E-Scooters (and All Transportation Initiatives), Legislators Should Center Those With the Most at Stake

This week, as the PA Senate decided not to take up legislation that would extend and expand shared E-Scooter programs in Pennsylvania, they have effectively stopped the SPIN scooter pilot program here in Pittsburgh. Residents throughout Pittsburgh who are disabled, elderly, have real mobility needs, and are in search of real mobility solutions have long raised concerns about scooters and their prioritization in the City’s transportation policy and the unreliable, untransparent data around safety and environmental impact that the company was reporting to the City. It is good that the PA Senate heard these concerns, however, the end of this Scooter pilot is not a victory. The issues that we have uplifted throughout our campaign have not been won and we will continue organizing toward these goals because they are more pressing than ever.

So as legislators in the City of Pittsburgh and in Harrisburg continue to shape the future of our transportation system, Pittsburghers for Public Transit continues to advocate for the kinds of mobility priorities that will make equity and access a reality in our communities, all of which are at the heart of PPT’s Pittsburgh 100 Day Transit Platform:

  1. Sidewalks are critical. Our sidewalks are the most important public right-of-ways for our most vulnerable community members, including for older adults, for parents pushing strollers, for people with disabilities, and for transit riders. Instead of policies that disinvest in public spaces and sell them off to private interests, our government agencies need to develop, maintain, and keep sidewalks clear of all obstacles. This includes shared e-scooters, car parking, sidewalk dining and construction equipment. For starters, if scooters were ever to work in a city, they must be parked in corrals and the company should be fined– not financially rewarded– for sidewalk parking violations.
  1. People with disabilities, low-income residents, and residents in transit deserts should be at the table, making decisions around the mobility gaps that they experience the most acutely. These residents should not have to struggle to be heard once decisions have long been made on their behalf, policy decisions based on the dubious premise that the needs of the most vulnerable are being served even in their absence or against their objections.
  1. Pennsylvania cities need to have transportation policies that support and center public, mass transit, which moves the lion’s share of our residents– hundreds of thousands of people each day – traveling outside of single-occupancy vehicles. The central transportation mandate of Pittsburgh’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure (DOMI) should be to support the dignified and easy access of residents and visitors to quality public transit: through connected and clear sidewalks, bus shelters, bus priority lanes, and incentives that support affordable housing near our best transit assets. 

New Data on Low-Income Fare Program Demonstrates Rider Needs…and the Program’s Success

image description: graphic shows Allegheny County Department of Human Service’s new Discount Fare Pilot Program Data Dashboard displaying on a laptop.

Allegheny County’s new zero fare/discount fare pilot project is proving to be a massive benefit for families across the county

Last year, transit riders with PPT and allied organizations Just Harvest, the Pittsburgh Food Policy Council and UrbanKind Institute won a year-long low income transit fare pilot for 14,000 residents, funded and evaluated by the County Department of Human Services (DHS). In this program, a third of enrollees were given free fare cards, a third were given half fare cards, and a third were enrolled in a control group that received $10 on a Connect Card.

Enrollees in the program like Ms. Tameeka Jones-Cuff, who were provided free fares, show how removing barriers to transit access has been life-changing. PPT member Dean Mougianis interviewed Tameeka, and she shared that not worrying about transit fares has allowed her and her children to get caught up on needed doctor’s appointments and physical therapy:

New Pilot Program Dashboard gives new insights into program and impact on participants

The Allegheny County Dept. of Human Services has now also released aggregate data on people enrolled in its Discounted Fare Pilot Program through a public dashboard. The data show the extremely high demand for the program with nearly 16,000 applications across the county, and an acute need for a long-term program. The early data, along with participant testimonials, show that the program is reaching those in need and having transformative benefits. 

Participants in the program are primarily heads of households with children, most of whom are sole providers. Many of the program participants are working or looking for work. PPT has long said that Pittsburgh Regional Transit (PRT) has had a poor tax on riders through its cash fare costs– that is, that riders who pay for transit with cash are often very low-income and pay significantly more than other riders for transit.

Astonishingly, the majority of enrollees in the program paid for transit with cash in the week prior to joining the program, with the majority also spending more than $25 a week on transit, higher than the cost of a weekly bus pass.

Other insights from the data dashboard that we noted:

  • There were 15,885 household applications, 9,574 of which were deemed eligible for the program. The high number of applicants shows the demand for the program. Over 80% of program participants don’t have access to a car.
  • Over 80% of program participants used public transportation to travel to work and to get around generally.
  • 43% of the people in the program are working, most are working full time, and most are making about $15/hour.
  • A good number of participants (nearly 2,500) identified as unemployed and are presumably looking for work based on their answer selection; those searching for work spend about 3 hours a week in their search.
  • Children (6-17 of age) in the program represent the largest age group at 34%. This shows the pilot provides a benefit at a household level, addressing travel needs for families and caregivers.
  • 72% of the adult enrollees are women.

We know this program needs to be expanded, with free fares extended to all SNAP households, permanently. That’s why we’ve made it a central demand in the County Executive primary election, held on Tuesday, May 16th. Check out the candidate responses to PPT’s transit questionnaire here, and vote!

Lastly, here’s a beautiful testimonial from Patrice Aaron about how the program has benefited her and her family, interviewed by PPT member Dean Mougianis:

Dozens of Pittsburgh Residents Call on City Council Not to Renew the Spin Scooter Pilot

Image Description: A photo of a SPIN scooter laying on its side completely obstructing the sidewalk on the 10th Street Bridge. Photo credit Josh Crosbie

Dozens of residents call on Pittsburgh City Council to end the Spin E-Scooter pilot, and to improve resident mobility through sidewalk development, bus improvements and affordable housing instead.

On April 12, 2023, Pittsburgh City Council heard from the City’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure (DOMI), representatives of Spin, and disability and transportation experts in a post-agenda hearing called by District 5 Councilmember Barb Warwick. After the post-agenda hearing more than 45 Pittsburgh residents gave public comments on the impact of the MovePGH Spin shared e-scooter pilot program. This was the first time since the 2-year Spin scooter pilot program started in July 2021 that the public has been given the opportunity to weigh in on the impact of the scooter deployment. It also came in the wake of a referendum in Paris where 89% of voters overwhelmingly elected to ban rental e-scooters from the French city.

In the public hearing, dozens of Pittsburgh residents asked why the City continues to privilege the mobility of the able-bodied, affluent, young, recreational travelers in Pittsburgh at the expense of those with limited or no access to mobility. Programs like MovePGH exacerbate existing transportation inequities, excluding by design low-income people, people over 220 pounds, residents carrying cargo or dependents, older adults, youth under 18, people who are unbanked or without a smartphone, people with disabilities and residents living in the hills or valleys of our region. And while it’s true that no single transportation option needs to serve all constituencies, it is galling that the City invests the lion’s share of its time, staff resources and our shared and limited public space to serve those who can already access the most transportation options. Because of the prevalent problem of scooters parking on sidewalks, the pilot further narrows the access of those needing real mobility solutions.

Submit your comments about the Spin e-scooter pilot to City Council by emailing

The Mayor, DOMI and City Council should be acting on behalf of the community, not private companies, in service of our collective needs for clean air, for transportation, and for safe streets. The most troubling issue with this pilot is that the City has failed to measure or even identify goals that are distinct from the profit motives of the Spin scooter company. In Wednesday’s post-agenda hearing, Director of DOMI Kim Lucas’ assessment of the program was indistinguishable from that of the Spin scooter company representative—so much so that the two shared a PowerPoint presentation. DOMI lazily parrots the ridership numbers and demographic data that Spin collected through a survey of its users, arguing that diverse user data and ridership are proxies for mobility justice and environmental benefit. 

In the public hearing, Abhishek Viswanahan testified, “As a researcher, I think it’s a bit ridiculous that you all have spent so much time discussing this survey which has several glaring issues of sampling and bias, most importantly that it leaves out the huge population of people who don’t use the scooters for various reasons.” 

So what should actual success look like for the City, for this e-scooter pilot, and how would it be measured? What does failure look like, and what happens when the harms outweigh the good?

If the point of the scooters is to provide underserved populations with mobility options, then the City should start by assessing who in particular this form of transportation can serve and who it excludes. DOMI should be clear about which populations this technology can help and what problem it will fix, and then assess whether that’s working. We know that students—young people—traveling largely on weekday nights and on weekends in the key corridors of Oakland, Downtown and Lawrenceville are predominantly using the service to meet friends, dine out, or joyride. The Pittsburgh student population owns fewer cars, is lower income and more diverse than the city as a whole. So in order to actually understand the data of scooter usage, we should hear about what percentage of students are the same as the no-car household data that Spin is reporting, are the low-income households, and are the minority population using the scooters. 

From the data, it seems that scooters are primarily used by students going out recreationally in transportation-rich corridors. We can also assume that tourists see this as a tool for sightseeing, as 20% of the Spin survey respondents were non-Pittsburghers. Are these the transportation problems we needed the City to solve? Should MovePGH be the City’s most-touted transportation initiative over the last several years? 

Further evidence that e-scooters fail to address mobility needs in Pittsburgh is that Spin and the City couldn’t even give away free access to the scooters to low-income people in Manchester for their “Universal Basic Mobility Pilot.” They were unable to find participants for the program until a year and a half into the projected start date, and even then were only able to secure participants because low-income residents were looking to access free bus passes through the program.

If the goal of this pilot is to reduce transportation emissions then the City should have rigorously assessed whether that goal is in fact met when twice as many lower-emissions trips of walking, biking and transit (67% of rides) are being replaced by scooters than car trips (which account for 33% of scooter rides). Researchers, including Dr. Daniel Reck who spoke during the e-scooter post-agenda hearing, have done an international literature review which found that shared e-scooter programs generate more emissions than the forms they replace: Spin scooters generate emissions because diesel vans are out placing and rebalancing them, and they are charged from electricity mostly generated by coal-fired power plants. A plethora of scooter trips doesn’t mean that scooters have just replaced car trips or even bus and walking trips—instead they have likely incentivized new, non-essential trips, which increase congestion, sidewalk hazards and emissions. This is a reasonable assumption given that 30% of riders reported taking trips for “recreation” or joy-riding. The Spin survey had other, separate categories for other non-essential trips of “meeting friends and family” and “dining out/shopping” (not to be confused with “essential errands,” which was another category). These non-essential trips accounted for 44.9% and 23% of Spin scooter survey rider responses respectively on common purposes for trips. 

In other words, high use of the scooters, and ridership on the scooters without understanding the context, is not valuable data in itself. It could reflect good OR bad outcomes for the City and its residents. High scooter ridership is a goal that serves Spin itself by helping the company grow its revenue. It is also worth mentioning that in the public hearing, Spin said that they had yet to turn a profit from shared e-scooter trips in Pittsburgh, despite having a legal monopoly on public and private e-scooters, paying just $150 to the City for a permit to operate, and running over a million trips in less than 2 years. It is highly probable that, like the Pittsburgh autonomous vehicle companies, Scoobi mopeds, sidewalk delivery robots and Uber and Lyft, Spin will soon have to raise prices substantially or go bankrupt. In either case, why would Pittsburgh political leadership want to invest or rely on an unsustainable transportation service that runs on the fumes of venture capital and philanthropic donations?

And there is no excuse for the utter disregard that the City has shown for the legitimate ADA and civil rights concerns of the Disability community.

Ultimately, the MovePGH initiative is another example of how DOMI starts with a private corporate product or a “transportation technology solution” and then seeks out a problem to address. This was true about the Mon-Oakland Connector shuttle between Oakland and Hazelwood, a 2022 proposal to run autonomous shuttles to seniors in an isolated high rise in Lincoln-Lemington, the sidewalk delivery robot pilot in Bloomfield, and now, e-scooters. When the transportation “solution” is shown to be a laughable, even harmful “remedy” to the problem it purports to solve, the City hosts a discussion on how to modify the product to make it less bad rather than turning its attention to actually addressing the real transportation barriers that our most vulnerable residents experience.

Inevitably, the transportation tech will go under, there will be amnesia about all the equity and environmental benefits of the products that DOMI shamelessly touted and the City moves on. Meanwhile, we still have residents in Hazelwood who need traffic calming, and seniors in Lemington who cannot get out of their housing complex, and the unmet mobility needs of everyone who are categorically excluded from using these Spin scooters due to their disability. 

We need the City of Pittsburgh to commit to people, not products. The solutions to Pittsburgh’s mobility needs, environmental needs, and street safety needs are simple, but they are not sexy and they are not profit-driven. DOMI should implement the sidewalk development and maintenance, bus prioritization and affordable housing development policies that community members collaboratively developed in the Pittsburgh 100 Day Transit Platform, which were largely adopted by Mayor Gainey’s administration in its Transition Plan. Shifting to a people-driven approach would be real progress to celebrate.

Submit your comments about the Spin E-Scooter pilot to City Council by emailing

“As a Blind person and a resident of Pittsburgh, I regularly encounter scooters that block safe passage in my neighborhood sidewalks. But scooters are not the only reason why my neighbors and I don’t have the transportation access we needlike many others, I can’t afford to live in the parts of Pittsburgh that have quality transit. That’s why the city should end this inaccessible private e-scooter program and focus instead on real policy and development solutions that serve those of us with the highest need for transportation,” says PPT member Gabriel McMorland (pronouns: she/her).

PPT Wins Prestigious National Award for Low-Income Fare Campaign

Image Description: PPT members Linda Warman, Debra Green, Randy Francisco and Krystle Knight hold the PPT banner and chant at a Fair Fares rally, with text overlaid on the photo reading “We Won! Best Advocacy Campaign!”

PPT wins “Best Advocacy Campaign of the Year” in TransitCenter’s 2022 Frequency Awards

TransitCenter is a national foundation that works to improve public transit. Its annual “Frequencies” Awards recognize outstanding work by transit agencies, workers, and organizers to improve transit service. This year, Pittsburghers for Public Transit was awarded with the Frequency Award for “Best Advocacy Campaign,” around the low-income transit fare pilot program win. In today’s announcement of the award, TransitCenter said,

“this pilot program is a visionary way to reduce bureaucratic obstacles for accessing transit benefits, one which could become a model for the rest of the country.”

– TransitCenter

Celebrate this win with us on Friday 12/16 at our Year-End Victory Party!

Since 2018, transit riders have called for free and reduced fares in Allegheny County, and have led a countywide “Fair Fares” coalition alongside the food justice organizations Just Harvest and the Pittsburgh Food Policy Council to elevate this demand. The campaign for affordable fares included years of public testimony by riders around the need, rallies, research, petitions and more. This year, riders won a huge victory with the announcement of a year-long transit fare pilot, funded and evaluated by the Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS), which is providing free and half fares to 14,000 households who are eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Access Program (SNAP). The pilot will assess the viability of a permanent zero fare program for low-income transit riders, and the impact of providing the freedom to move on health outcomes, employment, food access, childcare access and other critical needs.

“We are honored by TransitCenter’s recognition of years of transit rider organizing to achieve transit justice, by lowering the cost barriers to access,”

– Laura Chu Wiens, Executive Director of Pittsburghers for Public Transit.

This low-income fare pilot in Allegheny County has national implications.

The Low Income Fare Pilot is a study with an eye toward policy and long-term implementation, not just research outcomes. Affordable public transit improves public health, and this pilot evaluates the ways in which transportation cost barriers are a root cause around issues of housing insecurity, underemployment and unemployment, food insecurity and health care underutilization. Using SNAP eligibility to qualify people for this program does away with onerous means-testing that has plagued the rollout of low-income fare programs across the country. And the piloting of zero fares– not merely reduced fares– keeps riders from having to ration their trips to fulfill basic needs.

PPT is optimistic that the outcomes of this pilot will demonstrate the value of a zero fare system for all SNAP households in Allegheny County, and provide an effective human services-based model for public transit funding for other cities to emulate.

Transit Riders Win Discounted Fares- Now Let’s Make them Permanent!

image description: text reads “Riders win more affordable fares! Learn more at” overtop an image of PPT member Josh Malloy leading a rally to launch the fair fares platform in February 2020

More affordable fares are coming to our transit system because transit riders took action – but we need to continue organizing to make sure these discounted fares are made permanent and available to all.

Take part in the pilot program and help make affordable fares permanent for all SNAP households in Allegheny County.

Now, we are organizing a group of advocates who want to learn more about getting involved in this discounted fare program and who will help us make it permanent. If you receive SNAP/EBT benefits, and if you want to get involved in the campaign, sign up above and our organizers will contact you about how to get involved.

On Tuesday, September 27th, 2022, the Allegheny County Department of Human Services announced a new pilot program to test more affordable fares for low-income transit riders.

This announcement is a huge win for transit riders and it is only possible because together we all have been advocating and organizing for years. We’ve always known that cheaper transit fares would make it easier to move through our city. We’ve known that cheaper fares would put money back in our pockets for our families. Now cheaper fares are happening because of our advocacy.

But our work is not done. We need to make sure that more affordable fares become a permanent part of our transit system in Allegheny County – and we need your help.

Check out this video that recaps the years of organizing that have contributed to this win:

See this news coverage of the Discount Fares Pilot:

Join the team! PPT is hiring a full-time community organizer!

Picture of a red bus at the Wood St Stop downtown, with passengers boarding. The text reads, “Ride the Bus? You can make it better.”

Fall 2022

Pittsburghers for Public Transit is a grassroots nonprofit organization of public transit riders, workers, and residents who defend and expand public transit. 

We are seeking a full-time community organizer to start in Winter 2022. The community organizer will work out of our Garfield office, but may work part-time remotely. The primary responsibilities will be to mobilize grassroots action for more equitable, affordable and sustainable transit service. The organizer will directly engage riders, bus operators and residents in community campaigns for expanded transit funding at the state and federal level, for fair fares, and for affordable housing and equitable development that puts people first. Relationship-building, leadership development and community engagement will happen through in-person, phone and digital means. The Organizer will report to the Director. 

PPT has a very small paid staff team, and close collaboration is required between all four staff positions. This is not an entry-level position; we strongly prefer applicants with experience in community or labor organizing.  Primary duties and responsibilities of the community organizer include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Lead PPT base-building and leadership development
    • Bottom-line the member-driven organizing committee, and recruit, train and support new members
    • Develop and conduct member outreach plan
    • Build strong relationships and develop a leadership pipeline for PPT member engagement 
    • Mobilize members to take action and track participation
    • Facilitate and lead canvassing days, phone banks, community meetings, events, and demonstrations
    • Create and distribute fliers and other outreach material
    • Manage and update the database of contacts and action history for each campaign
    • Assist in management of PPT interns, members and volunteers.
  1. Assist with campaign planning and implementation, informed by transit riders and workers 
    • Assist with strategic planning
    • Research transit needs, land use projects and policies that affect public transit riders and workers along with the community 
    • Assist with coalition building, by identifying and collaborating with allied partners 
    • Support fundraising efforts and events
  1. Participate in digital content creation and use social media and online organizing tools to support virtual-to in-person engagement and leadership development.
    • Assist in setting up digital infrastructure for meeting registration, online petitions, and contact management. Assist in preparing call lists and online access for volunteer phone banking and email outreach. 
    • Develop social media posts to drive engagement to PPT’s website, PPT meetings, and volunteer opportunities. 
    • Assist with writing of PPT blogs on campaign position
  1. Represent PPT in coalitions, meetings and events, and in communication with members of the media


  • Organized, responsible, and independent self-starter with the ability to identify new opportunities, while effectively using existing resources
  • A minimum of 2-3 years of experience in grassroots community organizing or labor organizing
  • Proven ability to work as part of a team and to handle fast paced situations
  • Strong and effective communication skills (public speaking, writing, etc.)
  • Values self-improvement, open to giving and receiving feedback
  • Passionate about public transit, labor, environmental justice, and equity.
  • Believes in the power of collective action to bring about systemic change.
  • Experience working in an environment where commitment to justice based on race, ethnic origin, gender, age, sexual orientation and physical ability is an important institutional value.
  • Willingness to work a flexible schedule, including nights and weekends.
  • Willingness to travel throughout Allegheny County, and occasionally throughout the state of Pennsylvania.
  • Computer proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Google Drive, and a willingness to develop additional skills as needed. Familiarity with EveryAction, Callhub, Not Another Mail Merge, social media platforms, and graphic design skills are a plus.

Although PPT is a public transit advocacy organization, we often work in neighborhoods and with residents who have limited or no access to public transit, and so we prefer for applicants to have access to a reliable means of transportation. 

Please send a resume and cover letter to Laura Chu Wiens, Executive Director, PPT via email at To ensure prompt attention make sure to put “PPT Community Organizer” in the subject line.

Pittsburghers for Public Transit is an equal opportunity employer. Women, people of color, and members of other under-represented groups are highly encouraged to apply. 

Salary is $50,000 a year, and includes high quality, fully-paid family health care, bus pass, 401k retirement contributions, and generous paid leave time. PPT is committed to an access-focused culture centered around disability justice principles, and believes in a workplace culture with a healthy work-life balance.

Port Authority Must Reinstate Mask Requirements for Rider and Worker Safety

Image Description: An older woman wearing black glasses, a surgical mask and a flowery dress, holding a black handbag is walking away from a red Port Authority bus with its door open with a passenger boarding.

We condemn the irresponsible decision by the Port Authority of Allegheny County to stop enforcing mask-wearing on public transit, following the Florida court ruling yesterday regarding the CDC mandate. The decision by PAAC comes as COVID-19 cases are rising in Allegheny County and nationwide due to a new and more transmissible strain of Omicron. Transit agencies including Chicago’s CTA and Portland’s TriMet (…and NYC’s MTA, San Fran’s Muni, BART and SFMTA, Denver RTD, Caltrain, AC Transit, Seattle’s King County Metro and Sound Transit, and Kitsap Transit…) have elected to continue local requirements and enforcement for mask-wearing despite this latest challenge to federal CDC directives. PPT is calling on the Port Authority to immediately pass and enforce its own transit rider and worker mask requirements, because the agency has an obligation and has stated its intention to make its facilities safe for all users.

Requiring masks for all riders and workers is critical to ensuring that public transit is safe and accessible. Mask-wearing has been shown to be effective only when it is universally adopted, and not solely by those who elect “to wear masks for their own comfort and safety.” Many people with disabilities, including those who are immunocompromised, rely on public transit to access essential services. Without a mask requirement and enforcement, these riders must compromise their health in order to go to the doctor, to buy fresh food, to visit with family and more. Children under 5 years old are still unable to access the vaccine.

 “The decision to stop enforcing mask usage on buses doesn’t consider people like me, who are immuno-compromised. This latest COVID-19 variant is more transmissible than any other we’ve seen, and people are still getting sick and dying from the virus. Port Authority’s choice makes me afraid to ride,” says bus rider and PPT Board Chair, Verna Johnson

This decision acts in stark opposition to the agency’s goals around the worker vaccine mandate, which stressed their commitment “to promot[ing] the health, wellness and safety of Port Authority’s workforce… and the riding public.” (from Port Authority’s Jan 10, 2022 news release) The Port Authority’s catastrophic rollout of the transit worker vaccine mandate has caused weeks of unsafe, overcrowded buses and transit riders left waiting at the stop, as hundreds of experienced transit workers were put on disciplinary leave. The rollback of the mask mandate will likely lead to even worse transit service: in the UK, the lifting of mask requirements in public spaces recently led to a significant increase in illnesses among airline employees and the abrupt cancellations of hundreds of flights.  

Pittsburghers for Public Transit will be holding a rally downtown at 1 pm this Friday, April 22nd to highlight how transit service is linked to survival for both individuals and our broader community, to demand service improvements, and to insist on increased safety for transit riders and workers. 

After Years of Organizing and Planning, Mon Valley Communities See Federal Funding Responding to Transit-Oriented Development Needs

Image Description: Ms. Debra Green holds the microphone at a downtown rally surrounded by people standing and sitting in wheelchairs with signs reading “BRT for the Mon Valley”, “No Cuts to 61A”, “Bus Lines are Lifelines.”

A new $565,500 grant to the Port Authority marks the next phase in residents’ successful campaign to extend the East Busway

Transit riders, residents, businesses, and elected officials in the Mon Valley have been working hard to extend the East Busway’s benefits into their communities. After years of organizing to uplift the demand for better transit, we are celebrating the recent Federal Transportation Administration’s $565,500 planning grant award to Port Authority, to evaluate the local development and transit ridership benefits of a busway extension into the communities of Braddock, North Braddock, and East Pittsburgh. This grant award is timely: the 2021 bipartisan federal infrastructure bill will make funding available to realize capital transportation investments, particularly those that will stimulate and revitalize underinvested communities.

Over the last several years, the boroughs of Braddock, East Pittsburgh, and North Braddock (BEN) collaborated on a shared comprehensive plan which centered the importance of an extended East Busway transit-priority corridor into the Mon Valley. During this planning process, these communities identified opportunities to support higher density, mixed income development, and critical amenities around potential new transit stations, in order to welcome new residents, support local businesses, and grow their municipal tax base. The BEN Communities have continued their collaboration through joint participation in the Allegheny Together Program, funded through Allegheny County to provide planning and technical assistance for greater reinvestment into walkable business districts and corridors.

At the same time, PPT hired 16 community leaders from the Mon Valley to survey nearly 600 residents on our Beyond the East Busway campaign to identify key destinations that should be better served by transit, and to make recommendations about which alignment of an East Busway extension would best meet transit rider needs. PPT organizing fellows surveyed a broad range of people living and working in the Mon Valley, including parents, single mothers, older adults, people with disabilities and students. The Port Authority’s decision to focus on this corridor in their long range NEXTransit Plan (Corridor E) and for this FTA planning grant reflects vocal transit rider advocacy and explicit support by the elected leadership in Rankin, Braddock, and East Pittsburgh in the grant application process.

This investment in planning is long overdue.

There is an extremely high and growing percentage of transit commuters in this region. In fact, four of the municipalities with the highest transit usage in all of Pennsylvania are within these corridors: #3 is Rankin (35.5%), #5 is East Pittsburgh (31.6%), #8 is Swissvale (24.9%), and #10 is Braddock (24.4%). In addition, five of the ten routes with the highest ridership increases for Port Authority from FY2019 to FY2020 were in the Mon Valley and Eastern Suburbs (P68 Braddock Hills Flyer, 52L Homeville Limited, 69 Trafford, P67 Monroeville Flyer and 55 Glassport), demonstrating that even during a pandemic, transit is a critical lifeline for riders of these routes. Despite this, transit access is poor for most of these communities: from Braddock to downtown, a bus trip averages 60 minutes even when using the high speed Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway. Due to cumbersome last-mile challenges, a passenger may spend 20 minutes using the busway, but must travel an additional 40 minutes before they enter the borough. A car trip, by contrast, takes 20 minutes from start to finish.

“With support from Allegheny County Economic Development, efforts are in place to revitalize Braddock Ave’s business district, which has always serviced multiple communities. Coupled with the Mon Metro Chamber of Commerce, this region of the Mon Valley is positioning itself for economic growth. A thoughtfully planned transportation system will function as a conduit to support all of our communities. This is our lifeline to jobs, business creation, and economic development,” says Tina Doose, founder and board chair of the Mon Metro Chamber of Commerce.

The FTA-supported Moving the Mon Valley project will specifically study the positive impacts of two potential busway extension scenarios, to provide a detailed understanding of how improved access to high-quality transit service will help Mon Valley communities achieve their equity, access, and economic development goals.  Recognizing, through this study, the transformative potential of public transportation is an important step along the way to building the high quality transit service the Mon Valley deserves. We look forward to supporting the Port Authority’s study by elevating the voices of Mon Valley riders and encouraging strong collaboration with community leaders and transit riders in Swissvale, Rankin, Braddock, North Braddock, East Pittsburgh, and beyond.

Join residents of the Mon Valley and Eastern Suburbs on March 28th, 6-7:30pm to plan the next steps in this campaign to win better service beyond the East Busway