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Port Authority Pilots A 'Fetching' New Transit Pass

Each morning, some 220,000 people across Allegheny County make sure they have their bags, lunch, keys and head for the bus or train. But the Port Authority says it often loses time at each stop as people scramble for their ConnectCards in wallets or purses. Enter the ConnectBand.

“Anything that makes boarding your bus or light rail vehicle a little faster, the better it is I think for everyone,” said Adam Brandolph, spokesperson for the Port Authority of Allegheny County.

The ConnectBand — a “working title” Brandolph said — is a silicone bracelet that carries a ConnectCard chip. About 200 free bands will be available at the Port Authority’s downtown customer service center on Thursday, June 20. Interested riders will be asked to provide contact information so the agency can follow up with a survey about the pilot.

“If they find it to be valuable and useful, we hope to make it available [more widely],” said Brandolph. “Otherwise, we tried.”

FitBits, Apple watches, a range of wearable technology products have made it into people’s everyday wardrobes. Is the ConnectBand one of those subtle, snazzy numbers?

“Right now it is a quite fetching blue color” and unbranded, said Brandolph, though that could change based on feedback. “It’s probably going to appeal to some people and maybe not appeal to others.”

But the point is to try new things, said Brandolph.

“Just one more thing to make riding a little bit easier.”

Margaret J. Krauss is WESA’s senior reporter. She covers development and transportation, and has produced award-winning podcasts on housing, work, and Pittsburgh’s lesser-known history. Before joining the newsroom full time, she covered the challenges facing Pennsylvania cities as a statewide reporter, and spent another life as an assistant editor for National Geographic Kids Magazine in Washington, D.C. She can be reached at mkrauss@wesa.fm.
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