Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Port Authority Promotes New Card for Seniors Seniors Need Photo Card for Free Rides by Jan. 1

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Port Authority Promotes New Card for Seniors Seniors Need Photo Card for Free Rides by Jan. 1

Article excerpt

Port Authority has issued just over 27,000 photo ConnectCards for senior citizens to use for free transit rides instead of their Medicare cards Jan. 1.

But the agency won't know until the new year starts whether it has reached everyone who should have the new, free card. Beginning Jan. 1, seniors who previously flashed their Medicare card to the driver will have to tap the new ConnectCard with their photo on it on the fare box to get a free ride.

That's because of a change in state rules that requires seniors to use either a card with their photo or the cardboard transit cards issued by the state - blue for men or yellow for women. Medicare cards will no longer be accepted for free rides because the state Department of Transportation said too many seniors allowed people under 65 to use their Medicare card for a free ride.

"It's really hard to tell," authority spokesman Adam Brandolph said when asked if the authority has reached most of those who need the new card.

"What's a good number for how many seniors should be taking public transportation and need the new card? It's incredibly difficult to tell."

The authority began issuing the new cards in late April and has ramped up the effort throughout the year by offering the cards through its Downtown Pittsburgh service center and the offices of 33 state representatives and senators. Elected officials often have taken the portable equipment to senior centers and community events to reach constituents who will need the new card.

The authority also has been advertising in publications such as Pittsburgh Senior News and InCommunity neighborhood magazines.

"The fact we have processed 27,000-plus cards is a testament to the state legislators who want to distribute them through their offices, at senior centers and at community events," Mr. Brandolph said. "We've all been pleasantly surprised with how quickly this has spread. We'll get a bunch of requests at the same time from people in the same neighborhood or same building, so we know they're probably finding out at the same time or place. …

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