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.