PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Dozens of transit riders rallied on the corner of Wood Street on Friday morning to protest proposed changes to a handful of bus lines.
Those gathered cheered “public transit is our right, we will not give up this fight!” for 30 minutes before marching one block to the monthly Port Authority meeting.
Proposed changes to the 61A, 61B and 61C bus routes would impact service to multiple neighborhoods in the Mon Valley.
“It will cost me a whole lot more time and energy and I already build in time in case a bus doesn’t show up,” said Cindy Paulding, transit rider. “If they cut the service by 45 percent it means I’m going to have to build in more time.”
Cindy Paulding is visually impaired and uses a service dog. She told KDKA that the 61 bus line is her only way to get to work, run errands, and visit with family and friends.
“I use it for everything. I don’t have the luxury of getting into a car, you know, so buses are it,” she said.
Paulding joined protestors to fight back against what they’re calling a 45 percent reduction in direct trips from the Mon Valley to downtown and Oakland.
“So we see the impact is going to be greatest on communities like Swissvale, Rankin, Braddock, Duquesne, McKeesport, Homestead,” Laura Wiens, executive director of Pittsburghers for Public Transit, said.
The proposed changes would require the riders of 61A, 61B and 61C to transfer once they get to Oakland and get on another bus. Wiens said it’s still undecided if those riders would be required to pay a transfer fee.
“That additional transfer in Oakland for folks to continue downtown is an insurmountable barrier for riders with disabilities, for seniors,” Wiens said.
Plus, Wiens said it would double the total trip cost for riders who opt to pay with cash. A trip that Debra Green said she would not be able to afford each day.
“That’s like $5.50, $11 per day, and it’s kind of hard, especially on an older person like myself,” Green said.
The group filled the Port Authority’s meeting room and met CEO Katharine Kelleman for the first time. She told the crowd she’s been on the job for only a week and a half, but promises to begin working towards solutions for the problems and concerns brought up Friday morning.