Paying for a ride on the T is more confusing than the fact that a lot of people really like Avatar and have seen it more than once. For regular riders — and CP’s Ryan “Busways” Deto, payment changes have come incrementally enough to make them reasonably easy to grasp. But for someone new to riding Pittsburgh’s light rail, imagine trying to explain how the system works. That might actually give you an aneurysm.
So, in your personal interest, I’ve prepared a Tony-worthy monologue to deliver when relatives visit from a town with flat-fare payments and turnstiles. Cut this article out, laminate it, and keep it in your pocket. If you did high school theater, go ahead and make it your own, ad lib, go completely off-book!
Port Authority “operates on a ready-fare system,” which is a fancy way of saying “we don’t make change.” You can take a “one-way ride” (aka single trip) with a ConnectCard, which will cost $2.50. A transfer will cost an extra dollar. If you are paying cash, your ride will cost $2.75, and if you want to transfer, well tough luck, that’s going to cost another $2.75. I do not know why. You can load your ConnectCard with a specific amount of money or you can buy a pass. Passes can be purchased as daily, weekly, monthly, or annually.
You can also buy something called a ConnecTix, which is missing the “t” the ConnectCard uses. It's paper instead of the credit card-like plastic but does essentially the same thing as a ConnectCard. It comes in five different permutations: Single Trip, Single Trip with Transfer, Day Pass, Weekly, and 10-Trip Pass. And don’t forget this: ConnecTix transfers expire three hours from the initial trip, so don’t try any funny business. Also, the entirety of your fare will expire 30 days from the date of purchase. The discounted rates for Medicare recipients and children between the ages of six to 11 do not apply on these. Also, ConnecTix are only available at ConnectCard machines.
“Where are the ConnectCard machines?” you say! Just get one online. But you can’t get the ConnecTix pass through the same system. It’s probably better to just buy the ConnectCard. If you buy it online, I guess you have to wait for them to mail it to you. So, if you would like to ride the light rail today, you will have to go to one of the machines or a store that sells them. There are more than 100 locations to buy them, so you should be covered. But they are not at every station, so you might actually have to go farther out of your way to a different station to find one. You should probably just visit portauthority.org/fares-and-passes/connectcard/connectcard-locations/.
"When do I pay?” You better have a seat.