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University Of Pittsburgh, Chatham To Pay Higher Port Authority Bus Fares

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Sarah Kovash
/
90.5 WESA

The Port Authority of Allegheny County’s board approved new contracts with the University of Pittsburgh and Chatham University on Friday that will increase bus fares paid by the universities over the next five years.

While students, faculty, and staff from the universities will continue to ride public transit for free, the universities will pay 60 percent of each trip’s $2.75 base fare, or $1.65 per ride. The agreements mark an increase from earlier contracts in which the schools paid $1.25 per ride, 50 percent of the Port Authority’s base fare.

The fees will increase 3 percent each year over the next five years. By 2026, Pitt and Chatham will pay $1.98 per ride.

“Now that we have finalized these agreements with our existing university partners, we intend to expand this program to additional institutions so even more people riders can benefit,” Port Authority CEO Katharine Kelleman said in a statement.

The Port Authority is currently negotiating with Carnegie Mellon University to establish a similar agreement.

The announcement came after the Port Authority and Four Nines Technologies conducted a fare structure study that was released earlier this year, which found that the earlier agreements were “financially unsustainable.”

According to the Authority, the university program “has been a financial boon” and has helped increase revenues since it was first instituted in 2012. In 2019, the schools paid more than $11 million for 9 million rides, and accounted for more than 14% of Port Authority passenger revenue that year.

The new deals are expected to bolster the Port Authority’s revenues, which are still being impacted by the pandemic. Despite a $2.6 million jump in revenue in the early months of 2021, Port Authority officials said it will likely be months before ridership returns to pre-pandemic levels.

The Port Authority board also approved its first long-range transportation plan on Friday. NEXTransit is a 25-year roadmap meant to “help inform, guide, and prioritize the agency’s operational and capital projects, policies, and programs through 2045.”

Julia Zenkevich is a general assignment reporter for 90.5 WESA. She first joined the station as a production assistant on The Confluence, and more recently served as a fill-in producer for The Confluence and Morning Edition. She’s a life-long Pittsburgher, and attended the University of Pittsburgh. She can be reached at jzenkevich@wesa.fm.
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