- A Pittsburgh community group has laid out a four-pillar platform for improving access to the city’s public transportation network for disadvantaged residents. The Pittsburghers for Public Transit's “Riders’ Vision” includes calls to expand availability of prepaid fare cards and free transfers.
- The group also says that a busway should be extended through certain neighborhoods in the city, a project that has been put on hold by the local government. The platform also calls for better alignment between housing and transit authorities to ensure dense public housing is built along transit routes, and vice versa.
- Pittsburghers for Public Transit announced their initiative at a rally Monday, which also celebrated a successful effort to preserve bus service for residents in the Monongahela Valley, which had been threatened with funding cuts.
The community group recognizes that as Pittsburgh’s investment and interest in public transportation grows, so does the need to ensure that it serves all citizens. Laura Wiens, the group’s director, has called the goals were “realistic, achievable solutions that will benefit the region,” including a suggestion that the agency offer more free days, especially on air quality alert days. Wiens told KDKA that the platform would “recognize that transit is the urban infrastructure that is critical to people being able to access everything they need in their lives.”
A key part of the group’s mission is collaboration with public transit officials, especially after the preservation of the Monongahela Valley bus routes. The group has been in action for eight years, but has recently started working more with authorities to achieve action. That strategy has proved successful in other cities; speaking at the Chicago Forum on Global Cities last month, Paul Fletcher, minister of urban infrastructure and cities for the Australian government, advocated for breaking down silos in planning. “The people who are making the transportation decisions ... are not necessarily the people making the urban planning decisions,” Fletcher said.
It’s also notable that the transit group has made housing one of their planks, since it requires more help across the government and is outside the traditional scope of bus routes and fare cards. By advocating for public housing to be built near transit, the group is trying to ensure that public transportation can be used by the most disadvantaged citizens without much of a burden. Even as cities such as New York City eye discounted fares for low-income riders, other policies around housing and zoning can do even more to ensure that all communities can use transit.