County Set to Launch Discounted Fare Program for SNAP Recipients
Published on December 22, 2023
County Executive Rich Fitzgerald today announced that Allegheny County and Pittsburgh Regional Transit (PRT) have reached an agreement to implement a discounted fare program for all county Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) beneficiaries, set to commence early next year. The program builds upon lessons learned following a 12-month pilot that was announced in September 2022.
“We know that transportation is one of the biggest needs for those in our community seeking to take advantage of employment opportunities or accessing services,” said Fitzgerald. “Through this pilot, we are able to see the impact that discounted public transportation fares have on these individuals and families, and just as importantly, can see the importance of meeting resident needs in this way. Thank you to DHS for leading this work, and to PRT for their partnership in serving residents’ needs in our community.”
The discounted fares transportation pilot was initiated in late 2022 and was designed to assess the impact of reduced public transportation fares in facilitating residents’ access to comprehensive services. In addition to services available through the Department of Human Services (DHS), the pilot also looked at whether the fares were used to access community opportunities. A total of 9,552 adults participated in the program, representing 14,480 individuals when including eligible family members. Preliminary findings from the pilot reveal that, on average, 50% discounts resulted in a fourfold increase in ridership, as measured by transactional card tap data, compared to pilot members who did not receive a discount. Furthermore, the provision of free fares doubled the number of rides in comparison to the group with a 50% discount. Participants benefiting from discounts reported cost savings on public transportation and a reduced likelihood of facing challenges in commuting to work or attending appointments.
“We are grateful to the nearly 15,000 people who took part in this pilot, providing us valuable insight into the community’s transportation needs. We are excited for the opportunity to move forward beyond a pilot to a sustainable program that will give over 100,000 people a reduced fare option for transportation and look forward to continued work with PRT to assess and enhance this program,” said DHS Director Erin Dalton.
The PRT Board will need to take action on the agreement in the first quarter of 2024, but the program will be funded through DHS. More details will be forthcoming following board action, but individuals receiving SNAP benefits will be eligible for a 50% fare discount when using PRT buses and light rail. Both Allegheny County and PRT expressed a shared commitment to exploring options for augmenting the discount, with the ultimate goal of providing cost-free PRT trips for individuals with limited financial means.
“PRT is pleased to participate in a program that will make public transportation a more affordable option for residents throughout Allegheny County,” said PRT CEO Katharine Kelleman. “We’re grateful to County Executive Fitzgerald and the county’s Department of Human Services for piloting the concept so that we all could benefit from the data that clearly shows a need for this program.”
Program eligibility will include Allegheny County residents between the ages of 6 to 64 who are receiving SNAP and could benefit nearly 134,000 people, including over 80,000 living in walking distance to PRT stations and bus stops.