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Port Authority board OKs fare hikes, route changes

| Friday, Oct. 23, 2009, 12:00 p.m.

Promising better service to at least 75 percent of its ridership, Port Authority of Allegheny County's board today approved fare increases and a plan to cut and consolidate underused or duplicate bus routes.

The board unanimously passed the first stem-to-stern overhaul of Port Authority's service in 30 years, along with a $4.8 million fare increase projected to plug a deficit in this year's $363 million operating budget.

CEO Steve Bland said when it's fully implemented, the Transit Development Plan should:

- Trim 186 bus and Light Rail routes to about 120.

- Increase the number of trips taken by 8 percent.

- Add new "rapid bus" express service from Pittsburgh International Airport, the East End, and Mon Valley.

- Simplify route names with numbers for regular bus routes, colors for the light rail and busways, and letters for special routes like the rapid buses and routes using the busways.

The changes will be accompanied by a 15-cent increase in the fare for "Zone 2" trips, which will cover trips to outer suburbs and areas outside Allegheny County. Transfers, peak-hour surcharges for the T, and weekly, monthly and annual passes will also increase slightly. The fare increase will take effect Jan. 1.

Starting in March of next year and lasting until March, 2012, officials will phase in the route and schedule changes area by area, with neighborhood outreach efforts and meetings to explain the changes before they happen, Bland said. The first areas to be changed have not yet been determined.

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