About

Lets build bridges to critical needs–like food, healthcare, housing and jobs–so that our community can recover from COVID-19.

The pandemic’s impacts are far from over. Lives have been disrupted. Jobs have been lost. 

Yet access to essentials like food, healthcare, and housing remains as important as ever. No one has been impacted as hard as Allegheny County’s low-income residents.

An emergency fare relief pilot program for low-income residents can be the bridge we need. Watch the explainer:

Sign on now to support
Fair Fares for a Full Recovery!

Sign On

A community is coming together to support an emergency fare relief pilot for low-income residents of Allegheny County.

We are asking our elected officials and Port Authority to create a pilot program that would allow people with EBT cards to access transit.

This will increase access for those most in need, and it provides a benefit to Allegheny County’s transit system and economy. See these FAQ’s on how such a program could work.

There has never been any greater need, and there has never been any greater opportunity.

Sign on today to support a low-income fare pilot today!

Speak Up

The Port Authority recently proposed a series of changes to its fare policy.


They are a start towards a more equitable fare structure, but they leave out many of those most in need.

Port Authority’s new fare proposal includes free transfers for riders who pay with ConnectCard stored value, and it would shift weekly/monthly passes to 7-day/31-day passes that begin on the day you first use them instead of on a calendar-based schedule.

These changes give greater flexibility to some riders and have long been requested by transit riders and advocates.

However, the new proposal does not extend any of the benefits to low-income riders who need support most. The proposal also does not extend any benefit to cash riders who are disproportionately low-income and who are forced to pay full fare for a transfer. Nor does the proposal do anything to increase access to ConnectCards and the discounts that come with them.

Many transit agencies across the country have addressed these challenges. They have helped support their riders and strengthen their systems with low-income fare programs.

Join us in asking Port Authority to do the same.

Fare Relief for a Full Recovery Interviews

Hear from these riders why a low-income fare relief pilot would benefit our entire community.

Supporters

Join these organizations in signing on to our letter supporting an emergency low-income fare relief pilot program! Letter below:

Food Policy Council
UrbanKind Institute
The Kingsley Association
412 Food Rescue
Just Harvest
Casa San Jose
Black Women's Policy Agenda
Opportunity Fund
Bloomfield Development Corporation
House of Manna
Moishe House Pittsburgh
Restaurant Opportunities Centers
PennFuture
East End Food Coop
E.A.T. Initiative
Homewood Concerned Citizens Council
Lawrenceville United
Hill District Concensus Group
Harvie Farm Stand
Breathe Project
Pittsburgh Budget and Policy Center
Community Kitchen PGH
Catapult Greater Pittsburgh
Alliance for Police Accountability
Pittsburgh United
Pittsburgh Mutual Aid
Black Urban Gardeners and Farmers of Pittsburgh Co-Op
Mayor Nickole Nesby, City of Duquesne & City of Duqesne Planning Department
Pittsburgh Human Rights City Alliance
Primary Care Health Services, Inc.
Grow Pittsburgh
AIDS FREE PITTSBURGH
Project Silk
Oakland Planning and Development Corporation
Bridge Outreach
Pittsburgh Chamber of Cooperatives
Plant-Based Pittsburgh
Human Services Center Corporation
Open Up
Bellevue Farmers Market
Repair the World - Pittsburgh
APALA Pittsburgh - Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance
Work Hard PGH
Green Party of Allegheny County
Central Outreach Wellness Center
Community & Students for All Workers - CSAW
Academy Pittsburgh
Pittsburghers for Public Transit
Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank

Green Grocer

Disability Options Network

The economic impact of the pandemic has disproportionately hurt low-income households, particularly under-served communities of color. To mitigate those harms and ensure a full economic recovery shared by all, we need immediate public transit fare relief for people who are struggling to maintain basic living standards. We are calling for the immediate implementation of a low-income fare program.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic crisis, 65% of Port Authority bus riders had annual individual incomes of less than $35,000. For these households, fares are a significant household expense, and for several municipalities in Allegheny County, transportation costs are the single biggest household expense. Nationwide, low-income riders have become increasingly reliant on public transportation during the pandemic; the percentage of riders with annual household incomes of less than $15,000 has jumped dramatically, from 20% to 35%.

Responding to this trend, transit agencies across the country have implemented free or reduced fare programs for low-income riders. For example:
– Richmond’s Transit Agency adopted fare free transit for the duration of 2020.
– Detroit suspended fair collection for a full year, and has a reduced fare program.
– Seattle Transit Systems have expanded their low-income fare programs during the pandemic.
– Los Angeles Metro is planning to institute free fares for low-income riders and students in January 2022, and to transition to a fully fare-free transit system.
– DC Metro is undertaking a study to evaluate free transit for low-income riders, and possibly transitioning to a fully fare-free system.
– San Francisco Bay Area transportation agencies launched an 18 month pilot program in July of 2020 providing 20-50% off fares for low income riders.

Evaluations of existing low income fare programs, such as those in Toronto and Boston, have shown many benefits for participants, including: an increase in overall transit use, more trips to health care and social services, and greater community involvement.

It is time for Port Authority to join the growing number of transit agencies acknowledging that a low-income fare program is necessary to respond to the economic crisis caused by the pandemic. Just as an eviction moratorium and a ban on utility shut-offs were authorized, transportation relief for low-income riders is necessary as well. By relying on existing income-based programs such as SNAP, Port Authority can greatly reduce the oversight needed to implement a pilot version of this program. Riders could simply show their EBT cards while boarding in lieu of fare payment.

In addition to helping low-income riders, this program would actually help Port Authority as well. Ridership is currently about 30% of what it was before the pandemic, which has presented a significant financial burden to the agency. Port Authority receives state funding partially based on the number of trips provided each year, and it is estimated that a low-income fare program would boost ridership by 9%, or between 600,000 and 1,200,000 trips per year, thereby increasing Port Authority funding.

A low-income fare program also presents a significant public health benefit. According to a survey of riders from the Washington Metro Area Transit Agency, the vast majority of trips taken on public transit during the pandemic are to food stores, pharmacies, employment, and medical appointments; a low income fare program makes it easier for people to access these critical, life-sustaining needs. This is especially urgent given the need to access testing and vaccine sites during the pandemic. In a recent Health in All Places white paper on transportation, the Allegheny County Health Department acknowledged the link between transportation affordability and public health, writing:

“Residents must be able to afford transportation options. Affordability refers to reduced financial burdens, particularly for lower-income households…This supports public health in several ways: it leaves households with more money to purchase goods required for health, such as adequate shelter, healthy food and medical care, and it reduces emotional stresses associated with poverty.”

This is also a racial justice issue. Prior to the pandemic, 41% of Port Authority riders self-identified as Black or African American. While there is no data available on ridership demographics during the pandemic in Allegheny County, nationally, the percentage of Black or African American regular transit users has jumped from just above 20% to nearly 40%. Research has made clear that Black residents of Allegheny County have long faced systemic barriers to their health, well-being, and economic success — key metrics of which are among the worst in the nation. Securing transit access is critical to redressing these harms, and requires alleviating the costs of ridership for those who can’t afford it.

Signed