Transit riders and advocates have been working towards this victory for years – but the fight isn’t over. Our coalition is going to keep on organizing until all can access high-quality public transportation in our county.
In the Spring of 2020, as the pandemic isolated thousands of families across Western PA, the Pittsburgh Food Policy Council together with Pittsburghers for Public Transit, Just Harvest, and the Urban Kind Institute’s Equitable and Just Greater Pittsburgh Network convened a coalition of organizations who began advocating for a free fare program for Allegheny County Residents who receive SNAP/EBT benefits.
This coalition of more than 50 organizations issued a letter to PRT CEO Katharine Kelleman in August of 2021 asking them to institute an affordable fare program to help families recover from the pandemic’s economic impact.
In the years since, these organizations have issued reports to detail how Allegheny County could implement a discounted fares program; collected thousands of petition signatures in support of the effort; released surveys and stories about the transformational impact that affordable fares would have on riders; organized dozens of transit riders to speak up for more affordable transit fares in public hearings; and held rallies to build public pressure for such a program.
This advocacy has been successful in encouraging 19 local political leaders to sign on to a letter of support for a program, it elevated affordable fare programs as the #2 policy priority in PRT’s long-range plan, and now that the Department of Human Services has announced the launch of a discounted fares pilot program, we are one step closer to making this a reality for all.
We celebrate that we are now one step closer to our goal, but our work is far from over. Transit riders have shown that their advocacy can have an impact. Now it’s time to organize so that everyone in Allegheny County has the freedom to move.