UPDATED: Port Authority of Allegheny County board to vote on fare changes tomorrow | Blogh

UPDATED: Port Authority of Allegheny County board to vote on fare changes tomorrow

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This post has been updated  as of 4/29/17

Updated: Port Authority of Allegheny County board unanimously approved the new fare changes. PAT CEO Ellen McLean says the fare change "simplifies an overly complex fare system."

However, one Mt. Lebanon resident felt the policy change included a "hidden fare." Glenn Walsh said the fare change includes a clause that eliminates the free continuing transfer given to Monongahela and Duquesne incline riders. Currently, incline riders who wish to transfer to a bus or T line, can do so for free by requesting a paper continuing transfer slip after paying their $2.50 incline fare. But since PAT is eliminating all paper transfers, they are also eliminating the free continuing transfers for incline riders. (If they wish to transfer to the bus or T, incline riders will have to pay a $1 fee.) 

"For years Port Authority has understood that fares on Mt. Washington should be the same," said Walsh. "Why now discourage incline ridership?"

Molly Nichols of transit advocacy group Pittsburghers for Public Transit agrees that PAT should not be eliminating the free continuous transfer and goes even further on the transfer-related proposals.

"All transfers should be free," says Nichols "It's not cool to be taking the last free transfer away."

During the board meeting, PAT board chair Bob Hurley commended the PAT staff for managing a long a thorough public process. PAT has held two public hearings and read through 1,500 suggestions submitted by the public via mail and online in the last few months since announcing their intentions to change the fare system.

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The history of fare changes at the Port Authority of Allegheny County have been pretty predictable throughout the authority’s history. Since 1975, there have been 12 fare increases, jumping from 40 cents in 1975 to the last fare increase to $2.50 in 2012.

PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • Photo by Ryan Deto
But starting in 2017, the PAT is proposing instituting changes which will lower fares for some riders, after the eliminating the surcharge for zone 2. All fares will cost $2.50 when using a ConnectCard, the authority’s electronic-fare system (or $2.75 for cash fares). According to statistics from PAT, a fourth of its customers will save $1.75 per ride. 

“A lot of our poorer communities are far out on our system,” said PAT board chair Bob Hurley at a recent PAT board-committee meeting. “This brings a great deal of equity to our system.”

City Paper wrote about the proposed fare changes in January. Since then, PAT has held two public hearings and read through 1,500 suggestions submitted by the public via mail and online. The changes, most of which will take effect January 2017, are outlined here:

  • $2.50 fare throughout whole system if using ConnectCard
  • $2.75 cash fare
  • $1 transfers using the ConnectCard only (cash users will have to pay $2.75 again if transferring)
  • $1 fee to purchase new ConnectCards
  • Pay-as-you-enter on all routes
  • Exit through the back door(s) on all routes. (Riders unable to use the back door can exit through the front.)
  • Elimination of the Downtown free zone for bus rides. (Light-rail will still be free Downtown and to the North Shore.)
  • Half-fare passes for people with disabilities will be available on ConnectCards, as will reduced-fare child passes eventually
  • $7-day pass available for purchase
  • Suburban light-rail riders will operate on a honor system and will tap cards either in the car or on receptacles on stations, starting July 2017 

At a Planning and Stakeholder Relations Committee meeting last week, the board supported the proposed changes to the fare system. The full PAT board will vote on changes Fri., April 29, at the Port Authority offices Downtown.

Port Authority spokesperson Jim Ritchie says the authority plans to conduct a wide-ranging public information campaign on the fare changes, if the board approves.

To attend the meeting: 9:30 a.m. Fri., April 29. Port Authority Board Room, 345 Sixth Ave. (fifth floor), Downtown

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