Riders’ Voices Were Heard! Riders are successful in uplifting priorities in Port Authority’s first-ever long-range plan.
(Pittsburgh, PA) Friday, September 24th – Transit Riders in Allegheny County celebrated this morning as the Port Authority Board of Directors voted to adopt its NEXTransit 25-year long-range plan. The plan directly incorporated riders’ feedback around increasing fare affordability and creating dedicated transit corridors to the Mon Valley & Eastern Suburbs. This is a win for transit riders who have long been making these demands.
Throughout the last two years, riders have identified specific policy and infrastructure improvements that the Port Authority has now prioritized in their long-range plan. Riders helped the agency pivot their outreach to ensure that marginalized riders’ concerns were heard. The plan that was adopted today shows that the Authority listened to riders’ feedback and named their concerns as top priorities for the next phase of the agency’s development.
Transit riders’ organizing paid off. Although initial versions of the NEXTransit plan did not address some of rider’s highest priorities, especially around fare affordability and dedicated transit corridors beyond the East Busway, transit riders continued to leverage public meetings and public feedback to uplift their goals. Their efforts were successful. Specifically:
- Around fare affordability – Port Authority’s transit fares are some of the highest in the country. Riders organized the #MakeOurFaresFair campaign in 2018 & the #FairFares policy platform in 2020 which all laid out policy ideas to guide the agency in this direction. The final version of the NEXTransit plan added more substantial language, efforts and actions toward implementing low-income fare programs at the Port Authority, not merely increasing access to fare payment mechanisms as earlier versions had focused on. An “Affordable Fares Program” was identified as the 2nd highest policy priority and program in the final NEXTransit plan.
- Regarding dedicated transit corridors Beyond the East Busway – Residents, businesses and elected officials in the Mon Valley have been working hard to extend the East Busway’s benefits into their communities. Pittsburghers for Public Transit’s Beyond the East Busway campaign worked with 16 community organizers from the Mon Valley to survey nearly 600 residents in these communities to create a vision for how to make this possible. The outcomes of the Beyond the East Busway survey, which were supported by dozens of Mon Valley and Eastern Suburb community leaders, are directly in line with the NEXTransit’s Priority Projects #4, #5, and #7. These three NEXTransit projects would create transit priority corridors that would serve the communities of Homestead, Duquesne, McKeesport, Rankin, Braddock, East Pittsburgh, Turtle Creek and Monroeville, and are intended to advance within the next five years.
Transit riders are experts in the transit system they use every day. Their feedback needs to be centered. It is encouraging that the Port Authority recognized this in their release of the NEXTransit 25-year Long Range Plan. Now riders will continue to organize to turn these plans into action.