The Pitt News

Port Authority to vote on flat fare

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By Alexa Bakalarski / Staff Writer

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Based on approval from a Port Authority committee Thursday, the Port Authority Board of Directors will vote next week on system-wide changes to the bus system.

The full board is scheduled to vote April 29 about instituting a flat fare of $2.50 for ConnectCard users and $2.75 for riders who pay with cash. The board will also vote on changing the system so that the system’s 215,000 daily riders always pay when they board the bus, regardless of which direction they’re going.

If the board approves the changes, they will take effect January 2017.

Currently, Port Authority uses a two-tier system that charges $2.50 for rides in one zone and $3.75 for rides in two zones.

The new fare system would charge a flat rate of $2.50 for riders with ConnectCards — the automated payment system that riders use to pay for trips.

The change would encourage riders to use ConnectCards by increasing the fare for cash-paying riders, according to Port Authority spokesperson Adam Brandolph. He said riders with ConnectCards board buses about three to five times faster.

“It may only be a few seconds extra per person, but on a bus with 85 people — and throughout the day — that time can add up,” Brandolph said in an email. “Doing so will make the system more efficient. We also hope to improve our on-time rates this way.”

With the new system, transfers, which allow users to ride a connecting bus, would still cost $1 with a ConnectCard, and a transfer without a card would cost $2.75.

Port Authority proposed the new fare system after conducting several rider surveys in 2014 and 2015.

“Time and time again, Port Authority heard that riders wanted a simpler, easier-to-use system that gave them and others an incentive to use a ConnectCard,” Brandolph said.

Port Authority estimates the lower fare will result in a loss of about $4.5 million in revenue in its first year, but expects to make up the difference through an increase in ridership.

Other changes up for a vote include making the Pittsburgh Light Rail cashless by using ConnectCards or their disposable counterpart, ConnecTix. This would take effect in the second half of 2017.

Port Authority will also include eliminating free bus rides in the Golden Triangle, the Downtown Pittsburgh area between the Allegheny and Monongahela River.

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Port Authority to vote on flat fare