The Port Authority of Allegheny County’s Board is considering a policy change that would lower the average fare for public transportation in Allegheny County for the first time in at least 35 years.
The proposed changes to the state's second-largest public transit system came as a result of overwhelming input of riders who asked for a flat fare, single-zone pay-on-enter system. The survey results came from several thousand riders who also recommended adding a financial incentive to use their ConnectCard, the agency's loadable payment card adopted in 2013.
The Authority’s Board next week will consider approving a public comment period starting Feb. 1, 2016, and hosting public hearings to solicit input before making a final decision this spring. The measure was recommended for approval today by the Board’s Planning and Stakeholder Relations Committee.
Photo: John Marino - Flickr
The proposal would eliminate the authority's zone system and instate a $2.50 flat fare beginning Jan. 1, 2017. Currently, passengers who travel from farther distances to Downtown pay $3.75.
The proposal also includes a 25-cent surcharge for cash-paying passengers, and a one-time $2 fee to purchase or replace a ConnectCard.
“This proposal has the potential to open doors to new riders who may not have considered or could afford public transportation in the past,” said Port Authority CEO Ellen McLean. “Riding transit should be easy and affordable.”
The proposal eliminates the free Downtown bus zone, but keeps the free light rail zone, which extends from the North Shore to all Downtown stations. Transfers would remain $1 for ConnectCard users, while passengers transferring with cash would pay a full fare.
A second phase scheduled to go into effect in the second half of 2017 would require all light rail passengers to pay before boarding.
Port Authority projects an increase in ridership due to a simpler, easier-to-navigate system that will be less expensive for many Allegheny County residents. The agency also predicts that the combination of a pay-on-enter system and fewer riders paying with cash will mean faster and more efficient service.
The Authority’s full Board will consider approval of the public comment period and public hearings when it meets on Jan. 22.