On the Ellsworth sidewalk across from my bus stop, I could hear three people figuring out the new bus fare payment system that just had gone into effect for New Years Day. Not being practiced at poetic distance, but instead a grassroots organizer and loud-mouthed Pittsburgher for Public Transit, I walked across the street and butted right into the information transfer.
“Yeah, everybody gotta pay as you get on the bus from now on,” the guy with glasses was saying.
“And get off at the back door?”
“Yeah, that’s what I heard. But lots of people still getting off up front. And some of the bus drivers, they encouraging people to do just like before unless the bus is crowded.”
“No more extra dollar to go out into Zone 2, is that right, now?
“Yeah, but if you pay with cash, you have to pay the whole entire fare all over again every time you transfer. You have to have a Connect Card if you just want to pay the one dollar when you change buses.”
“What about a Medicare card? My mother, she has a Medicare card. That is what she has always used on the bus. That’s still good, right?”
“I think the official rule is that she has to use her Medicare card to apply for a special Port Authority senior pass.”
“I am going to have to take my mother downtown, then. She lives way out. She does not drive at all. I’m going to have to take her down there to the Port Authority office tomorrow afternoon.”
“What about all those people that don’t have someone to take them where they can buy a card?
The woman who was going to take care of her mother nodded hard. “And what about disabled folks? What happens with them?”
“And the people who have to transfer a couple of times to get to work – what if they can’t get to where they can recharge their card?”
“Yeah, especially out of the City there’s lots of places it’s hard to get to a Giant Eagle or to a Busway station. And lots of people don’t have computers. If you’re working a low-wage job, a bunch of transfers back and forth, that’s a big hole out of your paycheck.”
“Yeah, they going to do this they need to have more places you can fill up your card.”
“Hey, there’s the 75.”
To transfer persona from fellow grumbler back to blogger-photographer as fast as a bus pulls up to a stop is awkward – my explanation was rushed and the man in glasses looks at me hard out of the photo, “well, okay, but what?”
But as she got on the bus Shirley Perkins said to use her whole name and to make sure I put down that the Port Authority needed to be thinking about the elderly who can’t get anywhere without the bus – and the disabled folks, too! I believe that the exclamation mark is Shirley’s but there may be some transference going on.