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As Port Authority Reviews Fares, Advocates Call For Free Transfers And Eventual Fare-Less System

Caldwell Holden
90.5 WESA
Pittsburghers for Public Transit director Laura Wiens announces the #FairFares platform on Tuesday, February 4, 2020.

A group of Pittsburgh-area advocacy groups on Tuesday unveiled recommendations they say will make the Port Authority of Allegheny County more equitable. The #FairFares platform focuses on fare cost, payment process, enforcement and incentive programs.

Short-term goals outlined in the plan include making transfers free, making fare evasion a non-criminal offense, and fare capping: a system where individual tripsautomaticallyturn into a weekly or monthly transit pass once the equivalent amount is paid.

The plan also includes long-term goals, such as independent civilian oversight for the agency, a low-income fare program and, ultimately, free fares system-wide by 2030.

The move comes as the Port Authority begins holding public meetings to solicit feedback on a wide variety of topics, including fare policies, technology and infrastructure.

"Allegheny County Port Authority must really center the platform that we're putting out," said Briann Moye, a member of Pittsburghers for Public Transit's steering committee. "This platform has been driven by and crafted by not just Pittsburghers for Public Transit ... but the community at large."

The Port Authority's fare policy is currently under review by a consultant. Laura Wiens, director of Pittsburghers for Public Transit, said this is the perfect time for advocate voices to be heard.

"If we want the fare consultant to consider anything other than fare increases, which is on the table, then we need to tell them that is unacceptable," Wiens said. 

Port Authority spokesperson Adam Brandolph confirmed that fare increases are possible, but said the agency is committed to fast, equitable transit for the county. 

"If we decide to offer free transfers, fare capping or enact some other policy that would otherwise decrease the amount of revenue we receive, we may have to replace that revenue with some other source, including by raising base fares," Brandolph said.

Casa San Jose, Alliance for Police Accountability, Just Harvest and the Thomas Merton Center are also behind the #FairFares platform.