Citizens Voice Concerns Over Proposed Port Authority Fare Collection System

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Port Authority’s proposed fare collection system continues to spark controversy.

People packed the Port Authority’s board meeting Friday morning. Most were there to share their thoughts on how the Authority plans to enforce a proposed “proof of payment” system on the light rail.

“The change to a proof of payment system essentially is that you could be checked by an officer, who is going to ask you to show that you did pay your fare,” Jim Ritchie, with Port Authority, said, “and you would essentially have to show your ConnectCard, and they would have a device that would check the ConnectCard to make sure you paid your fare.”

More than 30 people against that enforcement plan signed up to speak at the meeting. Many expressed concerns over having more armed officers on the T.

“To put armed police officers on our platform and our Ts puts the community at a greater risk for something to happen,” one person said.

Other issues for riders — the possibility of racial profiling and the fact that riders could face criminal charges for not paying.

“Not every single person will be treated equally,” Christina Castillo, with the Thomas Merton Center, said. “What happens when they encounter someone with a mental disability, with a learning disability? Someone who doesn’t speak English? What happens then?”

“Our position is not that people should be getting away with doing wrong or people shouldn’t be held accountable for their actions,” Brandi Fisher, with the Alliance for Police Accountability, said. “It’s just that they should not be criminalized for $2.50. Because if someone is not paying $2.50, they probably don’t have the money to pay a fine or to defend themselves in a criminal justice system.”

The Port Authority says it is taking those concerns into consideration. As of now, there is no specific date for implementing the new system.

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