By Juliet Martinez
Pittsburghers who receive food assistance will soon be able to ride the bus for less. Transit advocates praise the pilot as a step toward needed fare relief for the lowest-income riders.
In late September, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald announced the creation of a 12-month pilot program that will allow some residents who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also called SNAP benefits, to ride mass transit for discounted fares. .
During the pilot program, the county will measure the effectiveness of lower-cost Pittsburgh Regional Transit fares in helping them access services the Department of Human Services offers and other opportunities. Eligible participants must be between 18 and 65 and receive SNAP benefits.
“In the Pittsburgh region, [Pittsburgh Regional Transit] fares fall heaviest on low-income households, who are the most reliant on public transit and the highest likelihood of paying the full cash fare for every trip,” said a statement from the Fair Fares for a Full Recovery Coalition. “As such, we are excited to see this substantial step forward in providing much needed fare relief.”
ttsburgh Food Policy Council, Pittsburghers for Public Transit, and UrbanKind, and advanced by the Equitable and Just Greater Pittsburgh network, said it its statement that member organizations, along with riders and community members, have advocated for price relief for low-income riders for many years. The coalition praised the pilot as the first step toward affordable public transportation, a need that, when met, “would unlock access to healthy food, health care, child care, employment, and all of civic life.”
The group encouraged the creation of a permanent free fare program for SNAP households, saying this would “ensure freedom of movement, economic opportunity, and investment in underserved areas, while strengthening the county’s transit system as a whole.”
The county’s statement said a permanent program could be launched late next year.
To sign up for updates about the pilot program, visit https://www.fairfaresnow.org/.
Juliet Martinez is the managing editor of The Homepage.