Port Authority of Allegheny County operates buses, the light rail/subway system known as the “T,” and two cable-powered inclines in Pittsburgh, providing transportation for more than 64 million people yearly. Once you figure out how to read the schedules, all are relatively easy to navigate and economical. Public transit can save you the hassle of trying to drive the odd street layout in the “Golden Triangle” business district and paying the city’s high parking rates.
How to Ride the Port Authority Bus System
A fleet of 676 buses operates daily, all year, making nearly 7,000 stops around Allegheny County. For information about routes, stops, park-and-ride options, and fare vending machines, use their interactive online map.
- Fares: You'll pay $2.50 one-way with a ConnectCard or $2.75 with cash. Discount fares (about half-price) are available for people with disabilities, Medicare recipients, and children ages 6-11. Seniors 65 and older ride for free, as do children 5 and under who are with an adult. Frequent riders can buy daily, weekly, or monthly passes, or ConnecTix—limited use smart cards—at ConnectCard machines.
- Routes and Hours: There are 97 bus routes, searchable through the online schedule-finder or on paper schedules found around town. These schedules are confusing to decipher, especially for visitors. A navigation app like Google Maps will help you time your trip but if you want to do it yourself, Port Authority recommends finding your destination and then working backward from the arrival time you want, to determine when to board. You may have to transfer to another bus for some destinations. Many routes operate 7 days a week, including holidays, from 4 a.m. to 1 a.m. Most run on a 60-minute schedule after 7 p.m. and on Sundays and holidays.
- Service Alerts: As with most cities, construction, bad weather, and traffic can delay or detour a bus. Port Authority lists rider alerts on its website, or you can sign up for the TrueTime-to-Text service to find out when a bus should arrive at a stop.
- Transfers: If you’ve bought a bus or T ticket within 3 hours using a ConnectCard, you can transfer to another vehicle for $1. This doesn’t apply to cash-paying customers.
- Accessibility: All buses, light-rail vehicles, and the Monongahela Incline are equipped with wheelchair ramps or lifts that drivers test daily. If a ramp or lift malfunctions, a wheelchair or scooter user may have to wait for another bus. But if that bus won’t arrive for 30 minutes or more, Port Authority will send an ACCESS vehicle. All stations along the West Busway and Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway, and some South Busway stations, are ADA-accessible with ramps, curb cuts, guide rails, and Braille information. Priority seating is at the front of the bus or train.
Riding the T Light-Rail System
Used by many commuters, the 26.2-mile T light-rail system runs from the south suburbs and becomes a subway Downtown, then tunnels under the Allegheny River to the North Shore, where it stops at the baseball and football stadiums and Rivers Casino. You can ride around Downtown and the North Shore for free.
- Routes: The T has 53 stations along the Red Line and the Blue Line. Overhead signs at the tracks and on trains indicate destinations. After a stop, you can signal the driver that you want to disembark at the next one. Some stations have stairs and are not ADA-accessible.
- Hours: The T operates from around 5 a.m. until midnight. Hours can vary between the two lines.
- Fares: Fares are the same as for buses ($2.50 one-way with a ConnectCard, with $1 transfers, or $2.75 cash). Free or discounted fares are available for certain individuals, and everyone rides for free in the free-fare zone.
How to Ride the Inclines
The Monongahela Incline (Mon Incline to locals) and the Duquesne Incline cable cars run every 15 minutes between Mt. Washington and Station Square. Hours for both are 5:30 a.m. to 12:45 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays; on Sundays the Mon runs from 8:45 a.m. to midnight, and the Duquesne from 7 a.m. to 12:45 a.m.
Buy tickets at the upper or lower stations. One-way fare is $2.50 with a ConnectCard, $2.75 cash; round-trip is $3.50 with a ConnectCard or $5.25 cash. Be sure to look out the window during your journey, you'll have a great view of the city.
Add a little extra joy to your trip by cycling around Pittsburgh. It feels good to ride and this city has invested in bike infrastructure, from protected lanes on city streets to the 37-mile Three Rivers Heritage Trail running along both sides of the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio rivers. Healthy Ride is the public bike-sharing program operated by Pittsburgh Bike Share, with over 100 stations and 650 bikes. In 2019, more than 99,000 customers rode more than 113,000 trips, breaking records as cycling gained popularity in Pittsburgh.
Taxi and Ride-sharing Apps
You can still hail a cab at taxi stands in the city or find them lined up outside Pittsburgh International Airport. To book a zTrip taxi, call 412-777-7777. Ride-sharing apps Uber and Lyft operate throughout the city and its suburbs.
Rent a Car
If you need to have a car, rent one from Budget Car Rental, Econo Car & Van Rental, Avis Car Rental, Hertz Car Rental, or Enterprise Rent-A-Car, which has locations around the city and its suburbs. But a word of caution: parking is expensive and Pittsburgh can be a difficult city to negotiate for anyone unfamiliar with its layout.
Tips for Getting Around Pittsburgh
- T routes shut down after midnight, and most buses stop running by 1 a.m., though some buses may begin running 24 hours between Downtown and select neighborhoods in 2020.
- When it rains or snows, expect slow, heavy traffic. And Pittsburghers brake before entering tunnels. It’s just a Burgh thing.
- Because of traffic and narrow streets, walking can be the best way to get from point A to point B when downtown, although riding the T is free at Downtown and North Shore stops and probably the better option in bad weather.
- With ongoing development projects, much of downtown often has major construction that requires temporary street closures. A sinkhole on 10th Street that made national headlines in October 2019 for swallowing half a bus remains under repair.