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The Port Authority Will Not Enforce A Cashless Fare Policy

Kailey Love
90.5 WESA
Passengers walk toward a train at the Gateway Station.

Port Authority of Allegheny County CEO Katharine Kelleman told the board at its regular meeting on Friday that the agency will not use police officers to enforce fare collection at light rail stations. 

In addition, a timeline to implement a fully cashless system on the T is still undecided, she said.

Through sampling and study, Kelleman said the Port Authority found it has just a 2 percent rate of fare noncompliance. She added some of that is just people forgetting to flash their card.

“This tells us that our current accepted method for payment is working, and we all know the expression: if it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” she said.

Credit Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA
90.5 WESA
Port Authority CEO Katharine Kelleman tells reporters that enforcing a cashless fare policy with police officers is not a good use of their time.

Forty-seven police officers work for the Port Authority. Having them enforce a cashless system is not ideal, said Kelleman.

“It creates barriers where we do not need them in our open system in America’s most livable city.”

Instead, Kelleman said the officers’ time is better spent ensuring riders, employees and transit assets are safe.

While the Port Authority will continue to monitor fare compliance throughout the system, Kelleman said it will also begin a marketing campaign reminding people when they pay.

The Port Authority expected to go cashless in July of 2017, but was slowed by technical issues as well as concerns from riders about the potential harms of the initiative.

Some worried that enforcing the cashless fare policy would lead to unnecessary interactions between police and transit riders, said Laura Wiens of Pittsburghers for Public Transit.

“Which for some folks could put them more in harm’s way,” she said, citing people without a legal immigration status. “That puts them in danger of detainment and deportation.”

Wiens said she’s glad police officers will not be enforcing the proposed cashless system, but is still concerned about how fare evasion would be dealt with. Last year, Port Authority said it would treat nonpayment as a criminal offense instead of a civil matter.

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