Protesters Argue ConnectCards Aren't Available To Purchase In Low-Income Neighborhoods

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — People protested against the Port Authority of Allegheny County’s fare policies in Downtown Pittsburgh on Friday.

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They gathered outside of the Wood Street T station, chanting and carrying signs.

They say it’s unfair that people who use prepaid ConnectCards pay just $2.50 per ride when riders who use cash have to pay $2.75.

“We have a fare system on our transit that disproportionately penalizes low-income riders,” Laura Wiens, director of Pittsburghers For Public Transit, said.

The effort, called “Make Our Fares Fair,” is pushing for Port Authority to make fares for cash-using customers and ConnectCards the same.

“There’s a cash surcharge. You have to pay more if you pay with cash,” Wiens said.

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(Photo Credit: KDKA Photojournalist Tim Lawson)

They say a lot of people can’t afford a weekly or monthly pass, and they say there are few places in low-income neighborhoods that even sell ConnectCards.

They also say cash-using customers are being penalized when they have to transfer buses.

“Folks that don’t have direct rides to where they need to go, direct routes to where they need to go have to pay for transfers as well, and they have to pay full fare, so if you’re a cash rider, you’re paying $2.75 twice in order to take a transfer,” Wiens said.

The group collected about 2,500 signatures protesting the fare structure, which they presented at Friday’s Port Authority board meeting.

The Port Authority plans to hire a consultant next year to review the entire fare system.

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“We have a region where people pay more for transportation than they do for housing. That’s the number one cost for many households in Allegheny County and that’s not right,” Wiens said.