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August 29, 2002

Despite fare hikes, Port Authority decides not to ask Pitt for more money this year

Although bus fares in Allegheny County will increase this weekend, Pitt's fee will remain the same at least until next August, a Port Authority official said. Under a contractual agreement, Pitt pays an annual fee in exchange for free rides throughout the county on Port Authority buses and light-rail vehicles for Pitt I.D.-holders.

Laurie Andrews, Port Authority chief operations officer, said that the Pitt contract, which runs from Aug. 1, 2002, to July 31, 2003, with roll-over provisions for succeeding years, will remain in effect for the time being. The Port Authority has sent a letter to Pitt officials, however, requesting a renegotiation of fees for the four years beginning Aug. 1, 2003.

Instead of asking the University for a 25 percent increase in this year's payment — the amount fares will go up this Sept. 1 on other pre-paid fares such as weekly and monthly passes — the transit company decided to take a longer-range view, Andrews said.

In a letter sent to Pitt officials Aug. 5, she said, the Port Authority laid out a proposal for increasing Pitt's fee incrementally over the four years beginning Aug. 1, 2003, to put the payment structure more in line with the Port Authority's other fare income streams.

Andrews said that Port Authority data indicate that the transit company, taking into account all sources of fare income including cash, discounted passes and other pre-paid fares, currently receives on average $1.12 for each ride. In contrast, Pitt's payment, averaged out over Pitt ridership, comes to about 46 cents per ride, she said.

Port Authority figures indicate that ridership for Pitt customers accounts for some 450,000 rides per month on average.

"During our last negotiations, Pitt agreed to pay $2.52 million per year, which was an increase over the previous year" when the University paid $2.28

Filed under: Feature,Volume 35 Issue 1

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