Join the celebration! Rider victories can make it all possible

Image description: Flyer with an invitation to PPT’s Victory Party & Year-End Celebration. Left side of the image has a yellow background, with PPT’s logo at the top and text that reads “Victory Party & Year-End Celebration Irma Freemand Center 5006 Penn Ave December 16, 2022, 7:00-11:00PM Dinner • Music • Games •Dancing • Speeches”. Middle of the image has text that reads “Your Invited!” with illustrations of people dancing. Right side of the image has a selfie of PPT members smiling at a bus stop.

RSVP below and reach out to PPT if you have any questions or accessibility needs, 551-206-3320 or info@pittsburghforpublictransit.org.

La invitación en español está abajo

Celebrate the major win on our campaign for more affordable transit fares and a year of successful organizing.

Join PPT to celebrate all that transit riders, transit workers and neighbors can make possible when we organize together. Our Victory Party will uplift the major milestone that we achieved this Fall on our campaign for more affordable fares at PRT. After years of organizing by hundreds of transit riders, Allegheny County announced in September that it would begin a Discount Transit Fare Pilot Program open to all EBT/SNAP recipients in the county. We’ll recap the highlights of this campaign and hear from members that were involved throughout the years.

PPT also has a lot more to celebrate from 2022! For starters, it was the first year that the organization stood on its own two feet as an independent 501c3 organization – that’s a big step! Last spring we won another years-long campaign when the newly-elected Mayor Gainey made good on his campaign promise and canceled the Mon Oakland Connector Shuttle Road through Schenley park – and we successfully redirected this money to traffic-calming projects and affordable housing. In the summer, we kicked off a new membership program and we now have 250 people involved as active dues-paying members in the organization! We also spent the year working with a Disability Justice cohort to improve our accessibility practices and involve more people in our organizing across abilities and languages.

PPT Campaign Victory Party & Year-End Celebration
December 16th, 7pm-11pm
Irma Freeman Center for the Imagination
5006 Penn Ave

What to expect: The celebration will be one to remember! We’ll be inside at the Irma Freeman Center for the Imagination (5006 Penn Ave) from 7pm-11pm. There will be a full dinner served free to all people who RSVP. Music will be provided by our friend DJ Frank and dancing will certainly happen. PPT members will host transit-themed games. And PPT members from different campaigns will talk about what it takes to win and what it means for their families and our communities. Attendees do not feel obligated to attend the entire event, so feel free to arrive and leave at whatever times work best for you.

Accessibility: The Irma Freeman Center for the Imagination is an accessible space. There is a ramp into the building from the sidewalk and there is an accessible bathroom. The space has an upper and a lower area that are very close together and connected by a ramp. You enter the space into the upper area where attendees can mingle and play games. The lighting will be good and consistent in this room throughout the night. The lower area will have music, dancing, speeches, and food. Lighting may be turned down for dancing and speeches. There will be interpretation in both ASL and Spanish.

Getting there: The Irma Freeman is a storefront at 5006 Penn Ave. There is a ramp into the space. The closest bus stop is at Winebiddle and Penn Ave, a 1-minute walk away, and is serviced by the 88. The 87 and 64 both stop on Friendship Ave, a 5-6 minute walk away. The 86 and 64 both have stops on Liberty Ave, which is a 10-minute walk to the venue. There is bike parking and car parking on Penn Ave.  If any of these transportation modes are cost-prohibitive for you, contact PPT to discuss options, 551-206-3320 or info@pittsburghforpublictransit.org.

COVID procedures: Masks are encouraged indoors. We also 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. There is outdoor space available on the sidewalk in front of the building and through an exit at the rear of the building.

FACEBOOK EVENT HERE + SPANISH/ENGLISH FLYER BELOW
EVENTO DE FACEBOOK AQUÍ + FOLLETO EN ESPAÑOL/INGLÉS ABAJO

Calling All Transit Advocates! Volunteer to Pick Up the Phone for PPT

Its the most wonderful time of the year! Volunteer for one of PPT’s year-end phone banks to help us connect with members.

Every year PPT volunteers make hundreds of phone calls to connect to members. We talk about people’s experiences on transit throughout the year; we invite them to our year-end celebration; and we ask them for their continued support of our work. This year, we’re also going to talk to members about our new strategic plan, get their feedback, and invite them to vote to approve it. These conversations with members are important to our organizing, and you can help PPT strengthen our work by volunteering below.

Our phonebanks are virtual events. When people sign up below you’ll receive a confirmation email with a link to a zoom meeting room. Join us in that room at the event time or call in on the phone number and we can orient the groups on how we make calls using the callhub.io platform. Having a phone and another device that can connect to the internet makes these calls fastest, but if you just have a phone connection you can still help make calls!

Reach out to PPT Communications Director, Dan, with questions or accommodation needs: 551-206-3320, or dan@pittsburghforpublictransit.org

The schedule for our phone banks is below. Use the form at the bottom of the blog to sign up!

  • Thursday, December 1, 4pm to 6pm
  • Monday, December 5, 5pm to 7pm
  • Thursday, December 8, 4pm to 6pm
  • Saturday, December 10, 12pm-2pm
  • Monday, December 12, 5pm-7pm
  • Wednesday, December 14, 5:30pm-7:30pm
  • Tuesday, December 20, 5:30pm-7:30pm
  • Monday, December 26, 3pm-5pm
  • Wednesday, December 28, 5:30pm-7:30pm
  • Saturday, December 31, 12pm-2pm

Sign up below

This Bus is for All of Us // Este Autobús es para Todos Nosotros: Year-End Member Drive 2022

Descripción de la imagen: Delmis Cabrera, miembro del PPT, sonríe y mira a la cámara. Su cita está superpuesta al lado derecho de la imagen “¡Logros como este solo suceden cuando alzamos la voz juntos!” [¡Victorias como esta solo suceden cuando alzamos nuestras voces juntos!]. Detrás de ella hay una foto de los miembros del PPT con carteles en un mitin.
Image description: PPT Member Delmis Cabrera smiles and looks into the camera. Her quote is superimposed on the right aide of the image “¡Logros como este solo suceden cuando alzamos la voz juntos!” [Victories like this only happen when we raise our voices together!]. Behind her is a photo of PPT members holding signs at a rally.

“¡Logros como este solo suceden cuando alzamos la voz juntos!” [Victories like this only happen when we raise our voices together!] – Delmis Cabrera, PPT Member

Su membresía o donación de PPT ayudará a nuestra defensa con vecinos como Delmis para construir un sistema equitativo para todos.

Descripción de la imagen: una ilustración de Marcel Walker tiene a 5 adultos y un niño sosteniendo un globo hablando alegremente mientras esperan en la fila para abordar un autobús. Un conductor de autobús está sonriendo y saludando mientras se detiene junto a la acera. Un letrero a la izquierda de la imagen dice: “Este autobús es para todos nosotros”. Y un segundo letrero en la caja de tarifas dentro del autobús dice “Pasaje libre”. El globo de la niña dice: “Pasea con nosotros”.
image description: an illustration by Marcel Walker has 5 adults and one child holding a balloon cheerfully talking as they wait in line to board a bus. A bus driver is smiling and waving as he pulls up to the curb. A sign at the left of the image reads, “This Bus is for All of Us”. And a second sign on the farebox inside the bus reads “Fare-Free”. The little girl’s balloon reads, “Ride With Us”.

Querido amigo de PPT,

Mi vida sería imposible sin el transporte público.

Mi nombre es Delmis Cabrera y no les mentiré: mudarme a Pittsburgh desde Honduras no ha sido fácil. Mi familia y yo debemos desplazarnos para llegar al trabajo, la escuela, las visitas al médico, las citas de inmigración y las compras de comestibles – todo sin un automóvil y con recursos limitados.

El precio de todo ha subido, pero nuestros salarios no. Mis amigos de Casa San José me presentaron al PPT y a la campaña para obtener tarifas con descuento para familias que reciben beneficios de SNAP/EBT. Inmediatamente me involucré porque un programa como este le permitiría a mi familia traer más comida a nuestro hogar. Sería transformador para nuestras comunidades.

Después de años de organización, el Condado de Allegheny finalmente está lanzando un programa piloto para tarifas con descuento, y debido a que inmigrantes como yo participamos en la campaña, este beneficio también estará disponible para familias como la mía en todo el condado.

¡Ahora necesitamos hacer que este piloto sea permanente y disponible a todos – pero logros como este solo suceden cuando alzamos la voz juntos! Así que únete a nosotros en la construcción de nuestro movimiento aliándote al PPT como miembro hoy.


My life would be impossible without public transit. 

My name is Delmis Cabrera and I won’t lie to you: it hasn’t been easy moving to Pittsburgh from Honduras. My family and I need to navigate getting to work, school, visits to the doctor, immigration appointments and grocery shopping – all without a car, and with limited resources.

The price for everything is gone up, but our wages haven’t. My friends at Casa San José introduced me to PPT and the campaign to win discounted fares for families that receive SNAP/EBT benefits. I immediately got involved because a program like this would let my family bring more food to our home. It would be transformational for our communities.

After years of organizing, Allegheny County is finally launching a pilot program for discounted fares – and because immigrants like me were involved in the advocacy, this fare relief will also be available for families like mine across the county. 

Now we need to make this pilot permanent and available to all – but victories like this only happen when we raise our voices together! Join us in building our movement by becoming a PPT as a member today.

Con Poder,

Descripción de la imagen: firma de la miembro del PPT Delmis Cabrera
Image description: signature of PPT Member Delmis Cabrera

Delmis Y. Cabrera

¡Únase como miembro de PPT hoy y ayude a apoyar a Delmis y PPT mientras nos organizamos para lograr un sistema de tránsito más equitativo y ampliado para todos!
Join as a PPT Member today help support Delmis and PPT as we organize for a more equitable and expanded transit system for all!

Descripción de la imagen: parte de la misma ilustración de Marcel Walker que se muestra arriba. Un operador de autobús viste una camisa gris y azul con una insignia dorada en el brazo. Está saludando y mirando por la puerta mientras se detiene.
Image description: portion of the same illustration by Marcel Walker shown above. A bus operator wears a gray shirt and blue had with a gold badge on his arm. He is waiving and looking out the door as he pulls up to a stop.

New Discount Fares Pilot Application is LIVE!

image description: a person wearing yellow gloves and a yellow scarf is holding a flyer that reads “New Discounted Transit Fare Program”. An illustrated crowd of people dancing is overlaid on a yellow background on the left side of the image.

Very big, very good news! The application is live for the Allegheny Department of Human Services’ new Discount Fare Program.

On November 17, the Allegheny County Department of Human Services launched the application for the new Discount Fares Pilot Program. Now, any person receiving EBT/SNAP benefits in September 2022 (or are the parent of a child who was) can apply to participate in the pilot program before the end of the year. The pilot program has space for 14,000 people to participate, but spots are going to go quickly so folks should apply ASAP. 

Who qualifies for the Allegheny County Discounted Fares Pilot Program?

Eligible participants:

  • Currently reside in Allegheny County Were receiving SNAP benefits in September 2022 or are the parent of a child who was
  • Are between the ages of 18 and 64 or are 65+ and have household members below age 65
  • Do not have another household member ages 18 through 64 who is already participating in this pilot

Why is it a pilot rather than a permanent program?

A pilot program is a trial run. Participant experience in this pilot will influence the design of the permanent program. The Allegheny County Dept. of Human Services will use this pilot to understand how local residents may benefit from making public transit more affordable. It will measure the impact on ridership and whether lower fares increase access to jobs, services, and other things residents need.

How does the pilot work?

Participation in the pilot is voluntary but includes agreeing to share info about your household and transit use. All participants will have the opportunity to receive additional compensation for participating in occasional surveys. Eligible participants will be randomly put in one of 3 groups:

  1. Free fares: This group will receive unlimited free fares on all PRT trips for 12 months.
  2. 50% discount: This group will receive a ConnectCard that reduces the cost of all PRT trips by half for 12 months, and is pre-loaded with $10.
  3. No discount: This group will receive a ConnectCard pre-loaded with $10 but will not receive a fare discount.

There are lots of ways that you can help ensure this pilot is a success

1. Help spread the word about the program!

You spread the word by sharing this blog and this poster with friends, family, and social media. You can also share the poster and website with any organizations you work with or belong to.

2. Let PPT know if you applied to the program and share any feedback you have about the website, application, or process.

There are still some bugs with the website and the application, so please if you apply or if you know anyone else who is applying please fill out this form to let us know if you’re participating and what issues you’re finding (or contact a PPT staffer directly). We’ll communicate them to DHS, but you should also reach out to Allegheny-Discounted-Fares@alleghenycounty.us

3. Sign your organization up as an enrollment support site with the Department of Human Services.

The Department of Human Services is going to rely on a big network of organizations across the county to help people enroll in the new discount fare pilot program. Your organization can sign up as one of these sites on the Department’s website today.

It cannot be overstated: this pilot is only happening because we all spoke up. All people deserve the freedom to move. This is an amazing milestone that we need to celebrate. But the work is not done. We need to continue getting organized and advocate for an expanded free fare program for all in Allegheny County. 

News Reports on the Pilot Program Launch:

Help PPT Kickoff New Discount Fare Program

Image Description: PPT Members hold up their flyers and give a thumbs up before a downtown canvass of bus riders.

Transit riders spent years advocating for more affordable fares in Allegheny County and we won. On November 17th, our County’s first discount fares program will go live, but community organizing is needed now more than ever.

For more than two and a half years, Pittsburghers for Public Transit has been advocating with transit riders and our partners for a discount fare program in Allegheny County. After dozens of rallies, public testimonies, media stories, reports and public meetings, the Allegheny County Department of Human Services announced in late September that a first-of-its-kind Discount Fares pilot program would launch for EBT/SNAP recipients on November 17th.

Now is the moment. This program will not be a success if we don’t connect with riders to get them onboarded into the program and into our organizing.

You can help ensure this program is a success by canvassing riders on November 17th and 18th. Volutneer below!

We will be canvassing downtown to talk to transit riders at bus stops on November 17th and 18th during the mid-day rush. Our goal is to directly sign them up for the County’s new Discounted Fares program as well as spread the word about the program. Volunteers should be ready to use their smartphones to sign people up directly, but if you don’t have a smartphone or data we could still use your help! Sign up below and if you have any questions about the canvass or if you have any accessibility needs, reach out to Dan at 551-206-3320.

 

Rider Recommendations for a Successful Discounted Transit Fare Program 

PPT Hosts Fair Fares Workshops with 120+ Low-Income Riders, Develops Recommendations for the Department of Human Services Low-Income Fare Pilot

Transit riders have been organizing for years for a fare-free transit program for households that receive SNAP/EBT in Allegheny County. In September, we took one big step towards that goal: the Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS) announced a one-year low income fare pilot, to assess the impact and possibility of a long term, low-income transit fare program! 

Image description: participants in PPT’s #FairFare workshops raise their hands to answer straw poll questions about fare affordability.

SIGN UP HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR CAMPAIGN AND HOW TO GET INVOLVED WITH ALLEGHENY COUNTY’S 2022-2023 DISCOUNTED TRANSIT FARE PILOT PROGRAM

The DHS announcement is exciting, but we need to ensure that the low-income fare pilot is an overwhelming success– both in recruiting those who most need access to affordable fares, and in assessing the vast impact of an affordable fare program. Transit riders are experts in their experiences and needs. So in late September and October 2022, more than 120 transit riders whose households receive food stamps joined PPT workshops to discuss accessibility and the impact that a low-income transit fare program would have on their lives. 

Image description: Participant shares experience about fare affordability during PPT’s #FairFare workshops

Our community of low income riders shared a lot of wisdom on how transit fares affect their lives, and on what DHS needs to do to ensure that this fare pilot is a success. We’ve broken them out into several categories, below:

Recruitment to the Fare Pilot

“My English is not very good, and I would like you to help in everything with Spanish and with internet programs”

3 of the 5 people in one breakout group did not have access to reliable internet service.

Low-income riders explained the difficulty they’ve had in accessing needed resources of all sorts. Major concerns lay around inadequate communications about available services because of lack of translation/interpretation, disability-centered accommodations, or internet or smartphone access.  

It’s our belief that without a concerted effort and resources put towards recruitment, it is likely that the low-income fare program pilot will be under-enrolled, or will have a participant pool that underrepresents those with the highest low-income fare needs and who experience these intersecting barriers to access. To ensure that this fare pilot will reach those most in need, (and for whom the fare relief will provide the greatest benefit), there should be particular recruitment targets around geographical distribution, household composition, race and ethnicity, and household income. 

Recruitment efforts should include in-person outreach, coordination with existing service providers and with multiple language access points.

Eligibility for the fare pilot (including people with existing fare discounts):

Image description: Participants and their kids at the Spanish interpretation table at PPT’s #FairFares campaign workshop

Many transit agencies around the country offer half fares to low-income riders, and there is discussion within Allegheny County about whether half fares would be sufficient to address low-income family needs. If it were, it would not be necessary to include people in the fare pilot who already receive fare discounts. To answer this question, it was important for us to include the voices of those who currently have access to half fares in our workshop – namely, people with disabilities, and families whose children receive the 6-12 year old half fare. 

Riders with disabilities on SNAP were very clear in communicating that the current half fare discounts are not affordable enough, forcing them to ration their trips that serve basic needs like food and healthcare. 

“I remember when I was riding the bus, free fares would have helped me with my medication costs, allow me get to the doctor, and allow me to choose between a greater range of service providers, not just the closest in my neighborhood. I could choose providers more appropriate for my chronic conditions located two or three neighborhoods away, ie, such as at Allegheny General or Oakland, where specialists are available for my rare and chronic conditions.” 

As a result, we believe that the fare pilot must also evaluate the benefit of a steeper fare discount, or a zero fare program for those who are in this demographic. 

At our workshops, low-income riders with dependents spoke about the gaps in accessing free or reduced fares for their children ages 6-18. They shared that the cost of taking transit to get to food, healthcare and employment was very high because children often had to accompany them and required additional fares. We believe that families should be treated as a unit for the purposes of this low-income fare pilot, ensuring that all members of the household including dependents older than 5 years old receive the same fare discount, to truly demonstrate the benefit. 

“I travel with my son, and it does cost me more money, lots of times I don’t have a babysitter and I have to take him with me, including grocery shopping and other necessary trips. And it prevents me from taking him to…trips to the zoo and other things.”

Finally, many low-income immigrants joined our workshops, and spoke of their distinct reliance on transit because undocumented people are not allowed to get a driver’s license in Pennsylvania. For many immigrants, the parents are ineligible for benefits, but the households can receive SNAP through their children. It is important to allow immigrant households to qualify to participate in this fare pilot even if only the dependents have a social security number and receive SNAP benefits.

Program Design:

“It’s like if you have cancer patients and you put one group with the treatment and one in the placebo? That is not fair if you know what my needs are. Sometimes I have to choose between eating lunch or dinner because of the money I spend on bus fares.”

Image Desctiption: Participants gather at the table for people who “Take Transit More Than 3x a Week”

We heard a lot of urgency around riders’ need for fare relief now, and the sense that the distribution of benefit– even through the pilot phase– should be equitable. There was concern about the fairness of having some participants receiving free fares and others half fares, and particularly the idea of a control group that would receive no benefit at all. 

There was also confusion about the idea of a lottery, that a participant’s assignment of a fare discount is not randomized, and actually is a reflection of eligibility or merit. We recommend looking at study designs that have all participants all receive free fares, half fares, and full fares, over a rotating period of time, so that all would receive the fare discount benefits and would be controlled against their own experience of paying full fare. 

“Also I heard for this free bus pass program, there will be a lottery, how will this affect people who need it? If I don’t get selected, I am going to keep asking, “when is it my turn”?”

Program Evaluation:

The workshops made it clear that the cost of transportation disproportionately impacts those with the greatest systemic barriers to access. There is a spectrum of poverty, even among those eligible for SNAP, and having a disability, being an undocumented immigrant or being unable to afford to live in a richly resourced neighborhood makes transit affordability much more imperative.

“I live in Uptown, which, with the Bus Rapid Transit system that’s coming in and like certain bus routes that are being canceled that normally go out to groceries stores. It’s becoming a bit of a food desert here which almost feels like they’re trying to push people out who can’t afford to pay for those bus fares like for people like me living in this neighborhood.

I’m on SSDI. You know it’s vitally important that we low income people are able to get to grocery stores, and not have to pay however much in each direction to… get back and forth. 

And also…I have a medication that I’m supposed to be taking, and it’s $30 a month because it has to go through a compounding pharmacy. I’m not taking it because I can afford

it, and that $30 a month if I wasn’t paying it on transportation. 100% I could be on this medication which would vastly improve my quality of life.

So it’s just you know it would be an absolute lifesaver to have access to that.”

It is our recommendation that the evaluation of what makes this fare pilot a success includes the effect of transit fare costs on riders’ mental health, quality of life, and even low-income people’s sense of being seen and prioritized for public investment and resources. 

There is also a need for the study team to acknowledge that the barriers to transportation access have worsened at the same time that transit costs have risen. This includes the drop in transit service frequency and reliability, and the rise in housing costs that has led to the displacement of many riders to communities with limited access to transit and CONNECT card refilling mechanisms. 

It is important for the study team to control for the availability of transit where study participants are living. Moreover, the study must assess people’s ability to refill CONNECT cards, because if participants are unbanked or underbanked and live far away from a CONNECT card refilling point, then they may underutilize their half or full fare CONNECT card.

“I live in Clairton, and my only bus runs only once an hour, and oftentimes it runs late or doesn’t show up at all and then I’m stranded. Free transit would be great, but it won’t change my ability to get around much.”

Image Description: Participants engage about fare affordability at PPT’s #FairFares workshop

The Need for Long-Term Program

We’ve learned that the need for free fares coincides with the need to address our region’s history of systemic inequities, with folks with the most difficulty in accessing resources requiring a recruitment, program design, and evaluation that prioritizes their needs.

The need for free fares now is urgent and should extend beyond a research pilot! 

JOIN US, LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR CAMPAIGN AND HOW TO GET INVOLVED WITH ALLEGHENY COUNTY’S 2022-2023 DISCOUNTED TRANSIT FARE PILOT PROGRAM

Please feel free to contact us if you have questions or are interested in taking a deeper dive into the qualitative data gathered at the PPT fares workshops at laura@pittsburghforpublictransit.org.

Image description: Young person holds a sign that says “Transit for People Not for Profit” at February 2020 rally to launch PPT”s #FairFares platform to lay the groundwork for the victory of this discount fare pilot program.

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

image description: text reads “Riders win more affordable fares! Learn more at fairfaresnow.org” 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:

Disability Advocates Criticize New MovePGH Report

image description: graphic has text that reads “#UnlockTheSidewalk” with a photo of a Spin scooter completely blocking the public right of way.

In their newly-released “Move PGH Mid-Pilot Report”, DOMI and Move PGH are Spin Doctors for Spin 

Move PGH and the City of Pittsburgh’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure (DOMI) recently released the “Move PGH Mid-Pilot Report” that provides their assessment of year one of a two-year pilot “to bring Mobility as a Service (MaaS) to Pittsburgh.” This pilot program started in July 2021 and featured the deployment of Spin scooters, the first authorized electric scooter in Pennsylvania. The Spin deployment is the primary initiative of the Move PGH program and the focus of our criticisms, as the other members of the Mobility Collective have had minor roles in the pilot. 

This is an image of a Spin scooter laying lengthwise across a sidewalk, sandwiched between a gate and a sewer grate, with a PRT bus pulling up to the curb.
image description: photo of a fallen spin scooter that is completely blocking the public right of way. Photo from Alisa Grishman’s recent Facebook post.

In this report, DOMI acts as a marketing agent for Spin, rather than as the city’s public agency that is responsive to the transportation needs of all its residents. DOMI parrots Spin’s narrative of being “accessible, affordable, and equitable” without acknowledging the important concerns of and harms inflicted on Pittsburgh residents who have the fewest transportation options.

Because of the persistent, unresolved issues around scooter accessibility, safety, affordability, environmental sustainability, and accountability, our organizations believe that the Move PGH pilot should not be renewed.  

If accessibility were a true goal of DOMI and Move PGH, the report would have discussed the serious concerns of the disability community related to Spin scooters, which have been raised in correspondence to DOMI from the official Pittsburgh community disability advisory body, the City-County Task Force on Disabilities. The ADA requires that services, programs, and activities, when viewed in their entirety, must be readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities. The Move PGH pilot is not accessible to people with disabilities and there is no timeline for when it will become accessible.

Instead, the report’s discussion of “access” focuses on access to the scooters, not access by all people, and it neglects to mention how scooters additionally create access barriers on our city’s public rights-of-way.

There have been countless instances of scooters driven on and parked across sidewalks and in curb cuts, thereby obstructing sidewalks in a city where accessible and maintained sidewalks are in short supply. These are not minor inconveniences; for people with disabilities and people pushing strollers or cargo, abandoned scooters can render the sidewalk impassable. When this happens, it forces pedestrians into the street or leaves them trapped until the scooter is collected—and the scooters themselves show no indication of how to report this type of hazardous situation. The Move PGH Mid-Pilot Report does not disclose the prevalence of 311 complaints around scooter parking violations to the City of Pittsburgh, nor does it share data about how quickly Spin acts to remedy these issues when they arise or whether there are any consequences to Spin for these obstructions.

Those excluded by design from scooter usage mirror the demographics that need greater access to transportation: 

  • Youth under 18 
  • Older adults 
  • People over 220 lbs. 
  • Residents of communities with significant hills or valleys 
  • People without access to smartphones or banking
  • People traveling with dependents or cargo 
  • Low-income people
  • People with disabilities 

If affordability were a true goal of DOMI and Move PGH, they would be concerned by the high cost of Spin scooters and the very low participation rate in the Spin low-income program. As CMU’s Tech4Society and Pittsburghers for Public Transit laid out in their February 2022 Mobility for Who? report, e-scooter rides cost nearly $5 dollars per mile, and even the low-income fare program is not affordable to many low-income families, costing $1.50 per mile.

Moreover, the number of people registered for Spin’s low-income program is exceedingly low—186 of 152,785 unique Spin users (0.1%)—in a city where nearly 20% of residents and nearly ⅓ of Black and Latino residents are below the poverty line. 

The Move PGH Guaranteed Basic Mobility Pilot, introduced during the July 2021 rollout, has not yet successfully recruited 50 individuals to participate in the year-long pilot—perhaps because of the limitations of the possible users—which will put the Universal Basic Mobility implementation timeline past the conclusion date of the Move PGH pilot. 

If climate benefits and transportation mode-shift were a true goal of DOMI and Move PGH, the report would find it troubling that a higher percentage of walking and transit trips (43.3%) are replaced by scooters than personal vehicle trips (35.7%), which indicates that a greater environmental harm is realized than benefit.

In recent research, shared e-scooters have been shown to emit more CO2 than the transportation modes they replace. These shared e-scooters also create additional harmful lifecycle environmental impacts through the extraction process for batteries, the collecting, charging and rebalancing process of scooters, and fleet disposal. 

If equity were a true goal of DOMI and Move PGH, they would focus their time on increasing access to sidewalks and public transit, which clearly serve residents and neighborhoods with the highest transportation needs. While the City of Pittsburgh does not pay operators like Spin to operate in the city, significant city resources (such as city staff time, space on our public rights of way, use of police and 311 dispatchers, and lobbying for looser state regulations on scooters) are being directed to Move PGH instead of toward other critical and more equity-serving needs.

Because these critical resources–particularly city staff time and public right-of-ways–are limited, an equity-first approach would demand that marginalized and underserved communities get priority in decision-making and resource allocation

The Move PGH initiative has lacked consideration and care for community input and equity concerns since its inception, and their report further illustrates this stance. Notably, those critiques outlined above are trivialized in the report as “a need for increased education” and “a learning curve and an adjustment to living with e-scooters in our streets.” As of today, the Pittsburgh Mobility Collective still includes no representatives of the public.

As a result, we, the undersigned organizations representing Pittsburgh residents who need greater access to mobility options, are calling for the City of Pittsburgh not to renew the Move PGH initiative, and that the State of Pennsylvania not renew the enabling e-scooter legislation. The demonstrated harms of the scooter deployment outweigh its benefits.

Mobility is a right. For too long, our city government has been disproportionately focused on private technology solutions like e-scooters that do not and cannot meet the needs of all Pittsburghers for safe, affordable, and effective transit. Now is the time for Pittsburgh to change course and prioritize solutions that benefit the residents who have the greatest transportation needs.


Read the new coverage on our response

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

Qualifications:

  • 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 laura@pittsburghforpublictransit.org. 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.

See the New Service Adjustments to PRT Schedules Q3 2022

image description: yellow bus on a rainy evening in downtown Pittsburgh.

Link to Port Authority’s list of upcoming service changes.

This month’s changes are less severe than the last two quarters (where service was cut more than 6%), so we’re grateful. However, we’re still operating with significantly less service than before the pandemic. Riders deserve an ambitous and transparent Operations Plan from PRT, so that they can know how, why, and when service will return.

Port Authority (now “Pittsburgh Regional Transit”) typically updates its service schedules 4 times every year. This was mostly suspended during the first year of the pandemic, but since 2021 they’ve been back to making these updates on a more regular schedule.

Unfortunately, 2022 has not been kind to our level of transit service. In March, Port Authority implemented a vaccine mandate that resulted in the elimination of nearly 100 highly-skilled transit workers. This mass firing was devastating for riders because our service saw huge spikes in out-of-service buses – up to 20% at times. PRT’s response to these astronomically high out-of-service rates was to cut back service a combined 6% in April and June (although by some measurements, these cuts may have been higher). We continue to call on PRT to reinstate all the workers who were fired and implement more strict masking and testing protocols for unvaccinated employees. PRT is short more than 200 transit workers. But with the number of worker retirements, that hole is only going to get deeper and mass rehiring is one of the only ways we can get our service back to more appropriate levels.

This quart’s changes weren’t as bad as April and June, but there are a number of examples of headways getting spread far beyond a level that is actually usable and reliable (like buses coming every hour and a half to every hour and 45 minutes in some cases). Also notable, for some reason, PRT’s descriptions of each route’s changes were much less detailed than they have been in the past – and some of PRT’s descriptions were just plain false. This is way less useful to riders, and the lack of transparency does not build trust with the agency. Why the change? It’s not for the better.

About this blog series with the @PGH_Bus_Info Hotline

PPT has been publishing this blog series on PRT’s quarterly service updates for the past few years. Our goal is to translate what these quarterly changes will mean for riders.

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

About how to read this blog

We’re going to sort this long list of changes from Port Authority into three categories based on what they mean for riders;

  • “The Good” = changes we like to see! Usually, improved or increased service that’s easier to use.
  • “The Bad (The Missed Opportunities)” = are examples of service getting worse.
  • “The middle of the road… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯” = changes that are neither good nor bad. Maybe a schedule shifts slightly, but riders won’t typically be able to tell the difference.

For each change, you’ll see the text and link that the Port Authority uses to describe each change, with a link to the new schedule.  This is copy/pasted from PRT’s website…

Let’s get started.


Port Authority adjusts schedules four times a year. These changes are effective Sunday, September 4, 2022. Please look closely at the changes below, as service has been reduced on some routes based on current ridership, and to prevent some missed trips.


The good

67-Monroeville – Some weekday trip times have changed. Two new trips have been added to the inbound weekday schedules, and the short outbound trips have been extended to Monroeville Mall. 

  • More service is a positive improvement for riders and businesses in Monroeville.

86-Liberty – Some weekday trip times have changed. New timetables have been prepared, and the 86-Liberty, 87-Friendship, and 88-Penn schedules have been combined.

  • In combination, the changes to the 86, 87, 88 will make it easier to ride the bus. For some reason when schedules changed last quarter these three buses that service much of the East End were all scheduled to leave town at nearly the exact same time instead of being staggered throughout the hour. This meant that instead of a bus coming every 10-15 minutes, riders would have three buses at once and then need to wait for a half hour. It was a strange and unfortunate oversite, but it seems to be mostly improved in this quarter’s changes. Also, slightly unfortunate, but the 86 now ends a bit earlier on all nights.

87-Friendship – Some Sunday trip 0times have changed. New timetables have been prepared, and the 86-Liberty, 87-Friendship and 88-Penn schedules have been combined.

88-Penn – Some weekday and weekend trip times have changed. New timetables have been prepared, and the 86-Liberty, 87-Friendship and 88-Penn have been combined.

93-Lawrenceville-Hazelwood – Some weekend trip times have changed. Four weekday trips have been added. The stop at Fifth and Desoto has been temporarily moved due to construction work in the area, to Fifth at Thackeray. 

  • Great to see more weekday service added. But riders on the 93 really need more weekend service and a longer span of service. We hope to see this in future changes.

The bad (the missed opportunities)

6-Spring Hill – Some weekday and weekend trip times have changed. 

  • It varies by the day of the week, but buses start later every day of the week (from 15 minutes later to 1 hour later) and end earlier in the day (from 10 to 20 minutes earlier). This may add complication for riders who need transfers to or from other lines.

31-Bridgeville – Some weekend trip times have changed. 

  • PRT’s description is totally misleading. Turns out the weekday trips have changed too, and pretty significantly. Instead of every 30-minute headways, buses leave the East Busway outbound every 35-45 minutes instead of every 30 minutes. The weekend schedules haven’t changed all that much. Sunday trips operate 5-6 minutes earlier than the previous Sunday schedules.

G31-Bridgeville Flyer – Some weekday and weekend trip times have changed.  

  • 3 runs were cut during the weekday. Weekday times also start a half hour later and end a few minutes earlier.  Saturday changes weren’t too bad – and it now runs later – that’s good. Sunday changes also aren’t significant – the entire schedule just shifted a few minutes earlier.

38-Green Tree – Some Sunday trip times have changed. 

  • Again, PRT’s description is misleading. Just like the 31, weekday headways have changed from 30 minutes to 35-45 minutes. For transparency and for service quality – this isn’t looking good. Weekday service ends 20 minutes earlier at night than the previous service.

53-Homestead Park – Some weekend trip times have changed.

  •  Saturday trips went from every hour to every hour and a half or even longer. The only small trade-off is Saturday runs slightly past midnight now
  • Sunday has also been reduced to every 95 minutes but runs later till nearly 730 now.

57-Hazelwood – Some weekday and weekend trip times have changed. Weekend frequency is decreased. One inbound and one outbound trip have been removed. 

  • It goes without saying, but people are getting sick of seeing service decreases. PRT needs to address its worker shortage and bring back all the workers who were fired while implementing a more strict masking/testing program for unvaccinated people.

64-Lawrenceville-Waterfront – Some weekday and weekend trip times have changed.

  • Service previously was split between E Liberty and West Mifflin bus garages now only Mifflin handles it as a result service starts 10-40 minutes later on all days and ends slightly earlier. Service frequency is also slightly reduced.

69-Trafford – Some weekend trip times have changed. Weekday outbound trips will only serve Haymaker Village once per trip. 

  • We’re unhappy to see these changes with Haymaker Village because it halves riders’ opportunities to access any businesses in that shopping center. Also disappointed to see that the Forbes Hospital extension continues to be a weekday-only service – people need to access hospitals on weekends too for work and for healthcare..

71-Edgewood Town Center – Some weekday trip times have changed. 

  • Service has been reduced from hourly to every 75 minutes and there’s now 1 less trip on weekdays which is sad to see

The middle of the road… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

1-Freeport Road – Some weekday and Saturday trip times have changed. 

  • Changes penalize operators by reducing their break times. Now the average break time is only 7-12 minutes (if the bus isn’t late, which on a route as long as the 1 is very unlikely).

4-Troy Hill – Some weekend trip times have changed. 

7-Spring Garden – Some weekday trip times have changed. 

14-Ohio Valley – Some weekday and weekend trip times have changed. 

15-Charles – Some weekend trip times have changed. 

26-Chartiers – Some Saturday trip times have changed. 

28X-Airport Flyer – Some weekday and Saturday trip times have changed. 

  • Remember the “Airport Direct” trips that were introduced last Fall? They were trips that bypassed the Robinson loop to help deliver riders (and construction workers working on the new airport terminal) to the airport faster…. Well, these direct trips were short-lived. They were eliminated with this quarter’s changes. Womp womp.

51-Carrick – Some weekday trip times have changed. 

  • So much service on the 51, and so many riders. We didn’t look too closely, but start and end times haven’t changed and service is still plentiful.

53L-Homestead Park Limited – Some weekday trip times have changed. 

55-Glassport – Some weekday and weekend trip times have changed. 

  • Weekend service reduced to every 70 minutes 

60-McKeesport-Walnut – Some weekday and weekend trip times have changed. 

61A-North Braddock – Some weekday and weekend trip times have changed to accommodate the Fern Hollow Bridge detour.

61B-Braddock Swissvale – Some weekday and weekend trip times have changed to accommodate the Fern Hollow Bridge detour.

71B- Highland Park – Some weekday and weekend trip times have changed. 

74-Homewood Squirrel Hill – Trip times remain unchanged, however, the timetable has been combined with the schedule for the 89-Garfield.

75-Ellsworth – Some weekday and weekend trip times have changed. 

79-East Hills – Some weekday and Saturday trip times have changed. 

83-Bedford Hill – Some weekday trip times have changed. 

89-Garfield Commons – Some weekday trip times have changed. New timetables have been prepared, and the 74-Homewood-Squirrel Hill schedules have been combined.

P1-East Busway-All Stops – Some weekday and weekend trip times have changed.

P2-East Busway Short – Some weekday trip times have changed.

P3-East Busway Oakland – Some weekday trip times have changed.

P68-Braddock Hills Flyer – Some weekday trip times have changed. 

P71-Swissvale Flyer – Some weekday trip times have changed. 

Y47 Curry Flyer -The last outbound trip has been adjusted by one minute.

Holiday Park VFD Park and Ride –The Holiday Park VFD Park and Ride, located at 415 Old Abers Creek Road in Plum, will be closed due to the expiration of contracts with property owners, low ridership and alternative nearby park and ride locations. Riders of the P12-Holiday Park Flyer can find alternative parking at Alpine Village Park and Ride, located at 1559 Golden Mile Highway in Monroeville or the Plum Park and Ride, located at 1860 Golden Mile Highway in Plum. The stop at Route 286 at Holiday Park VFD will continue to be served.

Knights of Columbus Park and Ride – The Knights of Columbus Park and Ride, located at 10 W. Crafton Ave., Pittsburgh, will be closed due to the expiration of contracts with property owners, low ridership and alternative nearby park and ride locations. Riders of the G2-West Busway-All Stops should use the Crafton Park and Ride, located at 27 Station St., Crafton.


If you have stories of bad transit service in the last few months, take a minute to share it with PPT and help advocate for change.

Stay tuned for the next set of quarterly changes, expected in November of 2022

As these changes roll-out, be sure to give your feedback & suggestions by reaching out to Port Authority Customer Service by phone or over twitter:

Port Authority Customer service phone number: 412-442-2000

Hours: Weekdays 5a to 7p, Weekend + Holidays 8a to 430p

or via Twitter @PGHTransit or @PGHTransitCare

And if you want to get in touch with the volunteer-run @PGH_Bus_Info Hotline, you can give them a call at 412-759-3335 ONLY When PortAuthority Customer Service is Closed/unavailable or via Twitter anytime @PGH_BUS_INFO

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