Free T fare zone between North Shore, Downtown called key for city
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said on Tuesday he wants to keep rides on the T between the North Shore and Downtown free to continue commercial and residential development without increasing traffic.
Subsidy agreements with four sponsors of the free fare zone of the North Shore Connector between Allegheny Station near Heinz Field and the First Avenue stop Downtown expire next year, so the county is courting new companies to subsidize the rides, Fitzgerald said.
“I think people like it. I think people use it. I think it has spurred some development on the North Shore,” Fitzgerald said during an interview with Tribune-Review editors and reporters.
Port Authority of Allegheny County spokesman Jim Ritchie said the agency does not track ridership on the North Shore Connector.
Fitzgerald and Mayor Bill Peduto discussed transit last week when they traveled to Denver to attend a conference with the city's leaders. Fitzgerald said plans to develop a Bus Rapid Transit system between Downtown and Oakland are still in the works.
“We have to move people by transit,” Fitzgerald said. “The demand for transit is really very high with all of the new Pittsburghers coming in. The young people don't want to be in cars.”
The North Shore Connector, a 1.2-mile extension of the Port Authority of Allegheny County's T system built for $517 million, opened in March 2012. Three-year deals with the Steelers, Rivers Casino, the Pittsburgh Stadium Authority and Alco Parking Corp. to subsidize the rides expire in the spring, Ritchie said. The four sponsors agreed to pay a combined $360,000 to ensure free rides in the first year of operation and $5,000 more apiece in each of the following two years.
Fitzgerald did not know how much would be needed to continue the free fares but expected the cost to increase. Ritchie said it was premature to discuss specific figures.
Alco President Merrill Stabile said he intends to continue his sponsorship and is prepared to pay more. He would not disclose how much he would be willing to pay but said he has contacted Port Authority about extending his agreement. The North Shore Connector and its free fare zone have proven their value, Stabile said.
“It's very important to the larger pictures of things Downtown and on the North Shore,” Stabile said. “It's adding value to the real estate on both sides of the river, not just parking.”
The Steelers plan to have further conversations with Fitzgerald and Port Authority about the organization's sponsorship of the North Shore Connector, said Burt Lauten, a Steelers spokesman. Rivers Casino General Manager Craig Clark said the casino has been proud to support the free fare zone but has not discussed extending it.
The Stadium Authority did not return calls for comment.
Fitzgerald said the county has talked to new companies for potential sponsorship, but neither he nor Ritchie would disclose which ones.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Owner of Penn Hills tombstone business pleads guilty to swindling the bereaved out of $90K
- Falling bricks close 2 Squirrel Hill businesses
- Brookline 12-year-old crashes mother’s car
- Carnegie Mellon University’s Speck device monitors indoor pollution
- Pa. woman charged with forging docs to claim she was an attorney
- Mt. Lebanon native, Iraq war hero’s action goes unrewarded
- Shortfalls sabotage promise of union retirees’ pensions
- 17 Pennsylvania veterans inducted into Hall of Valor
- New Castle-area racino remains in limbo
- ‘Swing Night’ has feel of Prohibition-era dance hall
- Scaife additions to elevate status of two museums