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February 23, 2012

Faulty Pitt ID?

No free ride starting April 2


Beginning in April, if your Pitt ID card does not work on the Port Authority system — regardless of the reason — you will need to pay the full fare or exit the vehicle.

Under a pilot “smart card” farebox program launched last Aug. 1, Pitt ID-holders began “tapping” the fareboxes for free rides on local transit vehicles. Successful taps result in a “Uni Pitt Pass — Thank You” message accompanying a single beep to indicate that the card has been accepted. Nonfunctioning cards result in a different message followed by three beeps.

The farebox system replaced the process whereby Port Authority operators pushed a “Pitt button” as riders flashed their ID cards while boarding or exiting. During the stipulated grace period, which was extended through March, holders of ID cards that could not be read by the system still were permitted to ride at no cost.

But Heather Pharo, a Port Authority spokesperson, said beginning April 2, riders with an invalid/nonfunctioning card will be asked to pay the fare or exit the vehicle.

However, she said Port Authority  operators have been instructed not to confiscate invalid or nonfunctioning Panther cards.

Riders who experience problems with the system are asked to contact Panther Central, located in the Litchfield Towers Lobby. Panther Central can be reached at 412/648-1100 or online at

John Fedele, Pitt associate director of News, said that Panther Central “hopes to resolve any problems that Pitt commuters have with the new technology before the April deadline, to help commuters avoid the inconvenience and embarrassment of having their ID denied.”

Anyone who experiences a problem with his or her Pitt ID on Port Authority vehicles should bring the Pitt ID and the following information to Panther Central:

• The four-digit bus number, located on the back and sides of the bus;

• The date and time of the occurrence;

• The route number, and whether the bus was going inbound or outbound;

• The bus stop location or nearest cross street, and

• The error message received from the electronic fare box.

Fedele said that valid ID cards that do not work on the Port Authority system will be replaced for free as long as the ID holder returns the card to Panther Central; however, lost or damaged cards require the ID holder to pay a $20 replacement fee.

—Peter Hart

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