Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

New Fares Go into Effect Sunday on Transit Routes Flat Fee Is $2.50 for Connectcard Trips

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

New Fares Go into Effect Sunday on Transit Routes Flat Fee Is $2.50 for Connectcard Trips

Article excerpt

After months of advertising, training and equipment adjustment, Port Authority soon will find out whether its efforts to spread the word about its new fare policy have been successful.

Beginning Jan. 1, all riders on the system will pay a flat fee of $2.50 for those using the prepaid ConnectCard and $2.75 for cash riders, no matter where they are traveling. Riders currently use a two-tier system that charges $2.50 for a shorter trip and $3.75 for a longer trip.

In addition, bus riders will always pay when they enter and will exit from the rear of the vehicle; cash customers will no longer be able to buy transfers that are available to card users for $1; and riding buses within the Downtown area no longer will be free. Also, ConnectCards that used to be free will be sold for $1 each.

As a result of the changes, about 26 percent of passengers will pay lower fares.

Authority spokesman Adam Brandolph said all drivers and customer service representatives were trained in November on the fare changes and all equipment has been been updated as well.

"We think everything is ready to go and we hope everything goes smoothly," Mr. Brandolph said. "We'll have all hands on deck to help those changes go smoothly."

Molly Nichols of Pittsburghers for Public Transit gave the agency high marks for its marketing campaign promoting the changes, which included ads, bus covers, and recorded messages on transit vehicles, at stops and in stations. But she said the group is concerned that there aren't enough locations available to obtain ConnectCards.

Riders can get them at Port Authority service centers, limited vending machines and Giant Eagle supermarkets, but low-income riders may have a more difficult time if they don't go Downtown. That would mean they pay the higher cash fare, and if they transfer they would pay a second full fare because there will be no paper transfers.

"The incentive of getting more people to use cards we understand from an operational standpoint," Ms. Nichols said. "But it's some of the more vulnerable people who don't have easy access to ConnectCards that may have to pay a higher cash fee. …

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