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Come on and take a free ride

| Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012, 12:12 a.m.

With the high price of gasoline, you'd think more Mid-Mon Valley residents would appreciate a free ride.

With reluctance about driving in Pittsburgh, you'd think more people would leave it to someone else.

If you're 65 or older, problem solved!

The Mid-Mon Valley Transit Authority offers free bus service for senior citizens living in 21 communities here, not only to parts of Westmoreland, Washington and Fayette counties but along the Route 88 corridor to Downtown.

Through a marketing consultant, the MMVTA has mailed fliers to 6,150 area households identified as having at least one person living there who is at 65 years old or older or someone about to turn 65.

It starts off, “Greetings Future Riders!”

The fliers contained a postage-paid application for a Senior Citizen Transit ID Card entitling holders to ride any route at any time for free. The card is state-issued, meaning it's good for any public transit system in Pennsylvania.

All you need to do is show the blue card to the driver. If you're in Allegheny County, it's also good on the Port Authority's Light-Rail System and the Monongahela and Duquesne Heights inclines.

“We have a lot of baby boomers at or nearing age 65,” MMVTA Executive Director Mark Roncone said. “We wanted them to know they can take advantage of this unique opportunity to get around at no cost.”

The MMVTA and other public transit agencies are reimbursed for the free senior citizen rides out of state lottery funds, based on a formula that considers the agencies' operating performance criteria.

Last year, the local system registered 46,334 senior citizen rides out of 330,583 total ridership.

That's not only below 15 percent, but, based on a demographic analysis by The Valley Independent last year, the statistic indicates that far less than half of the people eligible for the free ride program are using it.

If you haven't received a flier, or already tossed it into the garbage, visit the MMVTA office at 1300 McKean Ave., Charleroi, via the internet at www.mmvta.com or call 724-489-0880.

Yes, I have a free-ride card. I use it about once a month for travel to Pittsburgh or within Pittsburgh when I find the bus or trolley more convenient than a car or when I'm not in a hurry.

If you want to know where and when the buses operate, pick up a schedule or visit the web site. The number of travel opportunities may surprise you.

If you like paying $4 a gallon for gas, if you like driving in Pittsburgh and paying outrageous parking prices, if you like paying taxes to subsidize someone else's transit ride, forget about today's column.

Miscellaney…

• Given the continuing series of troubling developments and allegations being reported at California University of Pennsylvania, might a special grand jury investigation be forthcoming?

• Have you noticed the improvement at the park-and-ride lot along Route 201 near I-70, Rostraver? Grass has been cut. Litter has been picked up. Lookin' good. Kudos, PennDOT maintenance workers.

• Although alcohol has been served at private picnics for years, and although park goers trekked over to the Green Gables bar across the street in the good ol' days, Kennywood has finally gotten the OK to sell beer.

At $7 per 16 oz. plastic cup, don't expect to see my brewski buddy Corky at the new “beer garden.”

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Thought du jour. Forty-eight days remain until the nation picks a President. Got your voter ID ready?

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