Some riders on the Port Authority’s route 91 bus were met by their state representative on Wednesday morning.
Democrat Sara Innamorato and members of her staff boarded the bus in Aspinwall. The Democrat dug for cash in her large tote to pay for the fare. Her Connect Card had run out of money.
Innamorato sits on the transportation committee in Harrisburg. Riding from Aspinwall, through downtown, Lawrenceville, and back again, she walked up and down the aisles handing out business cards and talking transit with riders, some of who were her constituents.
“How often do you use the bus?” she asked 72-year-old Paul Bolgert. He uses his senior citizen’s pass to get from New Kensington to Robinson Town Center in order to cash his social security check once a month. “Unfortunately in Harrisburg they’re always cutting funding for transportation,” Innamorato said. “Yeah, it sucks,” said Bolgert.
Other riders voiced concerns about personal issues and general grievances about national politics.
Bill Haberman, 21, of Sharpsburg said he’d never met a state representative, but that he was happy to get the phone number for her office. He was en route to a court appointment downtown, and said that public transportation is a critical part of his life. “But [buses] run about every 15 minutes,” he said, “so it’s pretty good.”
Other riders said that the 91 route runs more frequently than the 1, which is a critical line for residents of Sharpsburg, and one that they’d like to see run more often.
“If we’re not investing in robust transit here, then we’re not attracting businesses, we’re not creating jobs, we’re not making sure people have economic dignity and mobility opportunities open to them,” said Innamorato to some transit activists who had come along for the ride.
Innamorato was elected in 2018 to represent the 21st district. It stretches up to Ross Township, along the river to Aspinwall, and dips down into Lawrenceville and Bloomfield.