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Free Transit to Continue for Pitt Students, Staff

The Port Authority and the University of Pittsburgh reached an agreement for the next five years.

Port Authority of Allegheny County and the University of Pittsburgh have reached a new agreement that will provide pre-paid transit access for approximately 40,000 students, faculty and staff for the next five years.

The agreement, approved by Port Authority's Board of Directors Friday, provides for annual reimbursements by the university based on recorded usage by its students, staff and faculty. The university’s annual payment to Port Authority has increased by more than 50 percent over the last five years and is projected to continue generating additional revenue under this agreement.

“Our collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh as the first large-scale smart card partner has been incredibly valuable and we are extremely pleased to continue this partnership,” said Steve Bland, CEO of Port Authority.

“We’re delighted to continue our partnership with the Port Authority on the pre-paid rider program that provides so many benefits to Pitt, to the Port Authority and to the community. Not only does this program provide direct support for public transportation in the county, but it also eases parking and traffic congestion in Oakland and benefits the environment. As we are proud to say, the city is our campus, and this program provides our students with easy and efficient transportation, enabling them to experience the cultural and civic amenities of living in a vibrant city like Pittsburgh,” said Jerome Cochran, executive vice chancellor and general counsel at the University of Pittsburgh.

For each recorded ride, the university will reimburse Port Authority at 50 percent of the one-zone base fare, which currently is $2.50 per ride. The reimbursement rate would change automatically with any future one-zone base fare increase but with a maximum cap. The agreement is retroactive to July 1, 2012 and expires June 30, 2017.

The University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University and Chatham University participate in Port Authority's U-Pass program, which provides transit service to university students and personnel at a bulk rate. Ridership from these three institutions is about 600,000 trips per month, or about 11 percent of Port Authority's total ridership.

The University of Pittsburgh’s Panther Card contains smart card technology and is compatible with fareboxes installed for Port Authority’s new ConnectCard system. Last year, Panther Card users began tapping their cards on the farebox target to register their rides, making the new fee-per-ride structure possible.

What do you think about the agreement? Tell us in the comments.

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