Tentative U-Pass pilot agreement signed between university and Pittsburgh Regional Transit

Written By Erin Yudt, Editor-Elect

The university has renewed talks with the Pittsburgh Regional Transit to provide the U-Pass program to students. According to a spokesperson for PRT, a tentative agreement to launch a test pilot program between the university and the PRT has been signed.

The U-Pass program covers bus, incline, and subway fares for students, staff, and faculty who attend universities in this agreement. If Point Park joins, this could lead to an added fee in tuition. 

“We are in the planning stage for a pilot program and have been in talks before the pandemic,” Adam Brandolph, spokesperson for the PRT, said. “This pilot would mean that about 20 students, staff, and faculty would be selected at random to test our mobile application to use our services, like the buses, incline, and subway, for about 30 days.”

Brandolph added that a full agreement could be made “possibly as soon as Christmas time.”

“This gives us a chance to test out one another and see if this is what is best all around,” Keith Paylo, dean of student affairs, said. “We want to look at any problems and try to fix them if possible during this pilot before going into a full thing.”

According to Paylo, the most important thing for the university is “student feedback.”

Two local universities, Duquesne and Carlow, recently joined the U-Pass program, joining local universities Chatham, Carnegie Mellon, and the University of Pittsburgh. 

Students have vocally expressed support of the university joining this program for a long time, and student government first discussed implementing this system in 2016.

“It just has never made sense to me that we are in the heart of Downtown with dozens of buses surrounding us, but we still have to pay even though other universities near the city do not have to,” Brandon Kurzawski, a junior commuter student, said. 

Point Park, along with Robert Morris University, receive a discount on PRT transportation, however that discount is limited. Students are able to pay one dollar in cash with proof of an unexpired university-issued ID after 7 p.m. on weekdays and all-day on weekends and certain holidays. 

The discounted fair program has been criticized by commuter students.

“The current discounted fare doesn’t help commuters at all because we go to campus on weekdays,” Kurzawski said.

The current program has also been criticized by residential students.

“I think if students had bus passes, more people would use them,” Ivy Cramer, a sophomore resident, said. “There are a lot of great things to do here in Pittsburgh, but a lot of them are just not practical to walk to. I would definitely use buses more if we had passes.”

According to Paylo, the program could start in the “next couple weeks.”