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Riding 101

Whether you’re new in town or just new to transit, this important information will have you on your way in no time.

System Overview

Fares

How to Ride

How to Read a Timetable

Holiday Service

Transit Etiquette

Animals on Board

Airplanes, Bikes & Other Connections

Safety & Security

Contact Us


System Overview

Port Authority of Allegheny County is the public transit agency of the greater Pittsburgh area, providing bus, light rail, incline and paratransit service to approximately 230,000 riders daily. View a system map.

Many of our bus routes offer service using Port Authority’s three exclusive busways – the Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway, the South Busway and the West Busway. The I-279 North HOV lane is also used to provide service to areas north of the city.

Port Authority’s light rail system – commonly known as the T or trolley – serves Downtown Pittsburgh, the North Shore and destinations in many of the city’s southern neighborhoods and suburbs.

Port Authority also offers a network of Park and Ride lots conveniently located throughout Allegheny County.

The historic Monongahela Incline – an inclined railroad scaling the hillside to the city’s Mt. Washington neighborhood – is one of the system’s most unique transit offerings. With connections to numerous bus and T lines at Station Square, the incline is used by commuters and locals as well as by tourists seeking a skyline view. Port Authority also owns the nearby Duquesne Incline, which is operated by a nonprofit society.

Port Authority’s Trip Planner is your key to the system. Use Trip Planner to find the route that gives you the fastest trip or the shortest walking distance, or requires the fewest transfers. Transit trips can also be planned using Google Maps.

Schedules can be accessed online or picked up at locations around Allegheny County, including Port Authority’s Downtown Service Center on Smithfield Street as well as Downtown subway stations.

Additionally, most bus routes are now being tracked in real-time in Port Authority's TrueTime℠ system.

In addition to our fixed route system, advanced reservation door-to-door paratransit service is provided by ACCESS.

Fares

Fares are based on a multi-zone system centered around Downtown Pittsburgh. The amount paid is based on the number of zones you are traveling through:

Free Fare Zone: For the bus, this includes the “Golden Triangle” of Downtown Pittsburgh bordered by the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers as well as 11th and Ross streets. Travel by bus within this area is free until 7 p.m. daily – after that, bus rides within Downtown are $2.50 (full cash fare). On the T system, rides between Downtown Pittsburgh and the North Shore are free at all times.

Zone 1: This includes the City of Pittsburgh and many inner-ring suburbs. Riding within this zone or between this zone and Downtown costs $2.50 one way, or riders may use a one-zone pass or ticket. For details on zone boundaries, view our Zones page or check the map for the transit route you wish to use.

Zone 2: The remainder of our service area falls within Zone 2. Travel between Zone 2 and Downtown/Zone 1 costs $3.75 one way, or riders may use a two-zone pass or ticket. Please note that if your trip starts and ends within Zone 2, you are only required to pay a one-zone fare. For details on zone boundaries, view our Zones page or check the map for the transit route you wish to use.

For a complete overview of fares, view our Fares page. To learn more about zones, including the 1A overlap zone, view the Zones page.

T Surcharge

Riders paying cash to ride the T during peak hours must pay a surcharge in addition to their zone-based fare. The surcharge on cash fares is in effect weekdays only from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. inbound and 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. outbound. The surcharge is 75 cents (35 cents for half-fare riders, including persons with disabilities and children ages 6-11). Riders using stored cash value on ConnectCard are not subject to the surcharge.

Special Fares

Some riders may qualify for free or discounted fare. For example, students and faculty/staff at select local universities may use their school ID as an unlimited transit pass. Additionally, we offer discounted fares for persons with disabilities, and senior citizens showing proper identification may ride for free thanks to a state program funded by lottery proceeds. Children are also eligible for free or discounted fare depending on their age. View details on special fare programs.

Transfers

Riders may purchase transfers for $1.00. Transfers allow a one-zone ride in any direction aboard a connecting vehicle and are valid for three hours. The half-fare transfer price is 50 cents for children ages 6-11 and persons with disabilities. Riders with passes do not need transfers.

Getting a Fare Card

Riders may purchase ConnectCard fare cards loaded with passes and/or stored cash value at Port Authority’s Downtown Service Center and at retailers throughout our service area, including nearly 50 Giant Eagle stores. Visit ConnectCard.org for a complete list of locations.

How to Ride

Here’s what you should know before you go:

  • Start by consulting the schedule or our online Trip Planner. Be sure to arrive at your stop a few minutes early. Planned detours are posted on this website – you can also sign up for email notifications of detours.
  • When the vehicle arrives, check the illuminated sign above the windshield for the route designation – if you're not sure it's the right route, just ask the vehicle operator before you board.
  • Digital messageboards and audio announcements are provided in key light rail stations. Remain alert for messages because they may contain important system information.
  • Many stops serve multiple routes. It can be helpful to signal your intention to board when your desired vehicle is approaching. If the vehicle approaching isn't the route you want, you can let the operator know by stepping back from the curb.
  • In most cases, you will pay as you enter when you're going toward Downtown and pay when you exit when traveling away from Downtown. This policy is in effect at all times on the T and until 7 p.m. daily on buses. After 7 p.m., bus riders must pay upon boarding. A few bus routes are exceptions to these rules. View complete details on how and when to pay
  • Be sure to have your fare ready before paying to help minimize delays. Pay in exact change – neither our operators nor our fareboxes give change.
  • If using a ticket or transfer, hand it to the operator. If you need to buy a transfer, let the operator know before paying your fare. If using a pass, simply show it to the operator, unless you are using a Panther Card or ConnectCard – in that case, tap your card on the orange pad on the farebox.
  • At certain T stations you may be required to pay at an off-board fare booth, often during peak hours.
  • If paying in cash, make sure your bills are as flat as possible. Insert one bill or coin at a time into the farebox. Our fareboxes accept nickels, dimes, quarters and dollar coins as well as $1, $5, $10 and $20 bills. 
  • Take an available seat and watch for your stop. Major stops will also be announced by the operator or annunciator. If you’re not sure where you will need to get off, ask the vehicle operator for help.
  • On the T, two-car trains are operated during peak hours Monday through Friday and during special events. The rear car does not have an operator and opens its doors only at certain high-platform stations. Only enter the second car if you are exiting at one of the following stations:
    • Allegheny
    • North Side
    • Gateway
    • Wood Street
    • Steel Plaza
    • First Avenue
    • Station Square
    • South Hills Junction
    • Potomac
    • Dormont Junction
    • Mt. Lebanon
    • Castle Shannon
    • Memorial Hall
    • Washington Junction
    • South Hills Village
    • Lytle
    • Library
  • Just before your stop, pull the yellow cord or press the stop request button to alert the operator. When arriving Downtown, you can exit through any door. Everywhere else, leave through the front door.

How to Read a Timetable

Each schedule contains a map of the route. Many maps show landmarks, cross streets and transfer routes. To make your ride easier, be sure to study the timetable ahead of time and call Port Authority Customer Service at 412-442-2000 with any questions.

1. Look for the day of the week you wish to travel (weekday, Saturday or Sunday/holiday).

2. Look under the heading showing the direction you wish to go.

3. The headings over each column of times are timepoints and correspond to the stars in the route map. These are major intersections or landmarks along the route. Find your particular stop among the timepoints. If your particular stop is not a timepoint, look for the timepoint before your stop.

4. Read down the column under the timepoint to find the most convenient time the bus or T will arrive at your stop. P.M. times are listed in bold. Make sure you get to the stop a few minutes early.

5. Follow the times listed across the row, from left to right, until you reach your destination point to find your arrival time.

6. Make certain that a time is shown at your destination point. Some routes have trips that vary from the regular route at certain times and do not serve all the listed timepoints.

7. If a symbol or letter appears beside a time, check the timetable notes for further information.

Holiday Service

Port Authority bus, light rail and incline service operates on holiday schedules on the following days:

  • New Year's Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas Day

Holiday schedules are typically the same as Sunday schedules. If a route does not operate on Sundays, then it will not operate on these holidays. Please check individual route schedules for more information.

Minding Your Ts and Qs: Transit Etiquette

Please follow these simple rules. It'll help make everyone's ride more comfortable.

  • Please let other riders exit the vehicle before getting on.
  • No smoking on Port Authority vehicles or at T stations; it could cost you a fine and ejection. This includes cigarettes, cigars, pipes or any other lit tobacco product, or use of an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette), electronic cigar (e-cigar), electronic pipe (e-pipe) or any other electronic oral device that provides a vapor of nicotine or other substance, and which simulates smoking through its use or through inhalation of the device.
  • Open food and drink containers are not allowed on Port Authority vehicles.
  • Do not litter on Port Authority vehicles and at stations.
  • Portable music players are not permitted without headphones.
  • Please always step to the rear of the vehicle, even when standing.
  • Don't take up more than one seat if the vehicle is crowded; seats should be kept free of feet, bags, umbrellas, etc., so that the seats do not become soiled and other riders may sit.
  • Port Authority welcomes you and your baby. However, in the interest of passenger safety, please hold your baby on your lap. Please fold up your stroller before boarding the vehicle and try to keep it out of the way of other passengers.
  • Shopping carts are not permitted on Port Authority vehicles.
  • Shirt and shoes are required.
  • Please keep all conversations – on your cell phone or with other riders – at a courteous volume.
  • On most buses, seats at the very front are designated priority seating for persons with disabilities, riders using wheelchairs, senior citizens and other riders with special needs (for example, pregnant women or riders using crutches). Please vacate these seats for these riders and comply with operator requests to do so.
  • Many stops are located near businesses or residences. Act with the same courtesy at the stop as you would while riding the bus or T – do not litter and keep conversations at a courteous volume.

Animals on Board

Service animals assisting persons with disabilities are permitted on board all Port Authority vehicles. They must be controlled by their owner while on the vehicle. Service dogs in training are also permitted.

Additionally, any animal or pet enclosed in a container or carrier, provided it is small enough to be held by the passenger, is allowed on Port Authority vehicles. No extra fare is required for animals.

Airplanes, Bikes & Other Connections

Port Authority provides service to Pittsburgh International Airport 365 days a year on its 28X Airport Flyer bus route. The route operates between the airport, Downtown Pittsburgh and the city’s Oakland neighborhood. Riders can make connections Downtown between the 28X and almost every other bus and T route in the system. Fare is $3.75 one way. View more details and the 28X schedule.

Many Port Authority bus routes stop near the Downtown Amtrak station, adjacent Greyhound station and nearby Megabus stop. Use our Trip Planner for more information or view our PDF brochure on regional travel.

Port Authority’s buses are equipped with bicycle racks that hold up to two bikes at one time, making intermodal connections easy and fun. Additionally, bicycles are also allowed on the T and Monongahela Incline. View more information about bikes on transit, including instructions on using our bike racks.

Safety & Security

  • Board the bus or T only at designated stops and stations.
  • Never run after a bus or T or bang on the side of a vehicle. The operator may not be able to hear or see you.
  • When standing on a bus, please remain behind the yellow line at all times and do not obstruct the operator’s view.
  • If standing, do not lean against any doors. Please hold onto bars or straps, as the vehicle may stop suddenly.
  • Please avoid distracting the operator when he or she is driving unless you have an emergency.
  • If you spot a suspicious package or occurrence, please let your operator know or dial Port Authority Police at 412-255-1385.
  • Port Authority vehicles use reverse-flow bus lanes on Fifth Avenue in Oakland and Uptown as well as on Wood and Smithfield streets Downtown. Please be sure to look both ways when crossing the street. Do not drive or ride your bike in a bus lane.
  • Pedestrians should also exercise caution when accessing one of Port Authority’s busways. Crossing of the busways should occur only at designated crosswalks. Use of the busways is reserved for Port Authority vehicles. Do not drive your car or ride your bike onto a busway. 

Visit our Police & Safety page for more information on safe transit riding.

Contact Us

If you have any questions we haven't covered, take a look at our contact information or call Customer Service at 412-442-2000. We're here to help.

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