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May 23, 1996

Free ride "Pitt Zone" extended

Pitt and Allegheny County Port Author ity Transit (PAT) have entered into a four-year agreement that extends and expands the "Pitt Zone" in which faculty, staff and students with valid University IDs can ride PAT buses for free.

The agreement also allows faculty, staff and students with a valid Pitt ID to ride PAT buses anywhere in Zone 1 after 7 p.m. weekdays, and any time on weekends and major holidays for 50 cents. The regular cash fare for Zone 1 is $1.25.

"The night program and weekends is basically to enable students to go shopping Downtown or to a movie or to the theatre," said Pitt's Assistant Director for Transportation John Morgan. "It also opens up the South Side to them, parts of the North Side, Lawrenceville and the Strip District." The University and PAT launched the Pitt Zone in May 1995 after PAT complained that Pitt shuttle buses carrying students, staff and faculty beyond the immediate campus area were affecting Port Authority ridership.

As part of the experiment, the University agreed to reimburse PAT about $208,000 for allowing faculty, staff and students with valid Pitt IDs to ride PAT buses in a special zone extending from Children's Hospital to Shadyside and Squirrel Hill.

Under the agreement approved by PAT's Board of Directors on May 17, the Pitt Zone will be expanded from its current limit at Children's Hospital on DeSoto Street to Craft Avenue in South Oakland. The Shadyside and Squirrel Hill limits of the zone will remain the same.

According to Morgan, the new agreement will cost the University about $396,000 next year and could rise to about $840,000 for the 1999-2000 academic year, depending upon the number of people who take advantage of the program. The jump in reimbursement is mainly due to the number of faculty, staff and students who used the program during the experiment. Some PAT officials had expected the program to attract only 200,000 – 300,000 riders, while Pitt officials felt it would produce about 600,000 riders. To date, the program has attracted more than 1 million riders. "Basically, Pitt will be paying PAT an average of 33 cents per fare ride in the Pitt Zone in the first year," said Morgan. That figure will rise to 43 cents per rider next year, he said. To determine a reimbursement figure, ridership audits will be conducted twice annually.

"None of us expected it to be quite that high," said Morgan of the 1 million riders the program has generated. "It's been a very successful program. We're pleased with it and, I think, PAT is pleased with it, too. We've always felt there were a lot of potential riders for the Port Authority at the University." A third element of the agreement between the University and PAT calls for the creation of a discounted monthly bus pass program for students similar to the TransitChek program available to faculty and staff.

The size of the student discount still has to be worked out, according Morgan. Under the TransitChek program, though, faculty and staff receive a $7 discount on the cost of a monthly bus pass, which means they pay $33 for a Zone 1 pass that normally costs $40. The University pays the additional $7 as part of its effort to reduce the number of vehicles in Oakland.

In other Parking and Transportation news: * A parking and transportation workshop has been scheduled for June 5 from 9 a.m. to noon in the Parking and Transportation office, 3525 Forbes Ave.

The workshop will cover such items as the motorpool, travel procedures, parking, commuting, moving programs, parking and transportation services, and discounts available to faculty, staff and students.

Campus maps and related material will be available during the workshop. To register call the Office of Human Resources, 624-8046.

* University parkers will be issued "97" stickers in June. The new stickers are to be placed over the "96" on current permits. Do not throw away current gold hang-tags. They are to be used for the next four years.

* The Parking office has moved to 204 Brackenridge Hall. Summer office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The telephone number remains the same, 624-4034.

* Parking permit holders who will not be on campus during the summer can save money by returning their permits to the Parking office. Parkers who return their permits by the third working day of the month will not be billed for that month. The permits will be reinstated in the fall.

Individuals going on leave or sabbatical also can turn in their parking permits and have them reinstated when they return.

* Several alternative parking plans are available for students enrolled in the summer session who possess a valid Pitt identification card.

Parking is available for $2 per day in the OC lot on Allequippa Street and the PH lot in Panther Hollow. Scratch-off hang-tags for the Biotech Center lot also are available for $2 per day.

Student parkers can use the Soldiers and Sailors, and O'Hara Street garages for $3 per day. A flat rate of $2 will be charged at Soldiers and Sailors garage after 3:50 p.m. and a $2.50 flat rate at the O'Hara garage after 4:50 p.m.

Monthly parking permits are available in the Biotech Center lot for $30 and in campus lots for $60 – $65. Permits are non-refundable. The above daily rates and permit rates will be are effective only until Aug. 31.

–Mike Sajna

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