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July 24, 2003

Port Authority awaits Pitt’s decision on new, 1-year deal

Port Authority of Allegheny County officials said this week they have reached an agreement with Pitt to extend by one year the ride-for-free service on public transportation for Pittsburgh campus employees and students with valid I.D. cards.

But a Pitt official cautioned that no contract has yet been signed by the University.

According to Laurie Andrews, Port Authority chief operations officer, Pitt has agreed to increase its annual fee to the Port Authority by $400,000 to $2.92 million for the year that runs from Aug. 1, 2003, to July 31, 2004. “Pitt actually suggested the fee [amount] earlier in the negotiations,” Andrews said. “The last contract [draft] they sent to us had only minor language changes, which we accepted, and we signed the contract and sent it back to them. It only requires Pitt’s signature to take effect.”

Pitt’s chief spokesperson Robert Hill declined to confirm the proposed fee schedule or length of the contract. “I can confirm that negotiations are proceeding smoothly,” he said, “and we fully expect to have a favorable conclusion very soon. But [as of yesterday] we do not have a signed contract, and I’ve been around long enough to know that if you don’t have a signed contract, you don’t have a final deal.”

The current contract expires at the end of July. If the contract is renewed, University I.D. holders can continue to ride Port Authority buses and light-rail vehicles year-round throughout the county without paying a fare.

If it is not renewed before Aug. 1, however, Pitt I.D.s will not be honored in place of fares, Andrews said. “Riders will be expected to pay full fare in the event that happens,” she said. The current base fare is $1.75 per ride.

Andrews this week said the Port Authority hopes to reach a multi-year deal with Pitt in the future, but extenuating circumstances this year, including uncertainty about public transit funding from the commonwealth for FY 2004, led to negotiations on a one-year contract.

Pitt’s fee to the Port Authority is subsidized in part by the $75 per term security, safety and transportation fee that Pittsburgh campus students pay. The balance comes from the auxiliary operations budget of the Office of Parking, Transportation and Services.

—Peter Hart

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