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Public Weighs In On Port Authority's Single Fare Proposal

Mike Richards
90.5 WESA

Port Authority of Allegheny County officials heard from the public Wednesday on a proposed fare change that would take place next year.

Currently Port Authority buses and light rail lines run through two zones. Riding through one zone costs $2.50, with an additional $1.75 to ride through a second. Officials are proposing consolidating service into one zone, costing a flat $2.50 fee.

A dozen people showed up at the Omni William Penn for the Port Authority’s first of two meetings Wednesday. Several shared positive responses, Port Authority CEO Ellen McLean said.

McLean said the authority came up with the single-zone idea after hosting several community forums, in which residents said the two-zone system was confusing.

“We think now is the time to make the changes,” she said. “We see ridership increasing, and we think this will (incentivize) people. If it’s simpler
(and) they know how to get on, everybody’s paying the same. We think this is the right time to do it.”

One piece of the fare proposal that hasn’t been as well-received is the possible elimination of transfer fares for those riding the incline and then using another mode of public transportation.

The current transfer fee of $1 from the incline to the T or a bus would only remain for ConnectCard users, with the proposal. However, cash riders would have to pay a full $2.50 fare in addition to the full fare to ride the bus or T, doubling the cost of a ride into town for some.

Glenn Walsh, who lives in Mt. Lebanon and uses public transportation to get Downtown, said he worries the change will negatively affect the inclines.

“This is going to discourage incline ridership (and) make it more difficult for the inclines, particularly the Duquesne Incline, which is operated privately, to continue operating,” Walsh said.

Subway and bus riders paying cash would also face a $.25 surcharge, in addition to a $2 fee to purchase or replace a ConnectCard, spokesman Adam Brandolph said.

Residents will have another opportunity to voice their opinions at another public hearing March 8 at the Alumni Hall in Oakland. 

WESA intern Mike Richards contributed to this story.