Fare treatment: The Port Authority gives a boost to the disabled

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Having reduced service and increased fares in recent years, the Port Authority has not been the recipient of much love from Allegheny County residents lately. But today we applaud some positive changes made by the transit agency.

The authority's board of directors decided Friday that people with disabilities will be able to ride for half-fare not only in off-peak periods -- as they do now -- but also during rush hour. It's a sensible move that acknowledges that many riders with disabilities also have jobs to get to.

There's a precedent, too. Senior citizens used to be limited to riding free at off-peak periods, but since 2007 they have been able to ride free at all hours. The new policy for riders with disabilities starts in September.

As for the reduced service and fare hikes, nothing of that sort was proposed in the $366.6 million operating budget for 2013-14 that was approved at the board meeting. The spending plan is about 1.5 percent lower than the current budget.

But that could change. The Legislature failed to pass a comprehensive transportation funding plan over the weekend while it was finalizing the new state budget. If the Port Authority loses significant state dollars, many more riders than those with disabilities will be hurt.

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