Port Authority light rail train, Washington Junction Station, March 2005.

(Marduk, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


PRT logo, green and yellow


Pittsburgh Regional Transit (PRT, formerly Port Authority of Allegheny County) is the second-largest public transit agency in Pennsylvania and the 20th-largest in the United States. The state-funded agency is based in Pittsburgh and is overseen by a CEO and a board of unpaid volunteer directors, some of whom are appointed by the county executive and approved by the county council; and one each by the majority and minority leaders by each political party. After operating as the Port Authority of Allegheny County for most of its history, the agency rebranded under its current name in June 2022. In 2023, the system had a ridership of 39,730,300.

Pittsburgh Regional Transit's bus, light rail and funicular system covers Allegheny County. On some longer-distance routes, service extends into neighboring counties such as Beaver, Washington, and Westmoreland. These counties have their own transit systems, including several routes that run into downtown Pittsburgh, where riders can make connections with PRT service.



Pittsburgh Regional Transit was created as the Port Authority of Allegheny County by the Pennsylvania General Assembly in 1956 to allow for creation of port facilities in the Pittsburgh area. Three years later, the legislation was amended to allow the Port Authority to acquire privately owned transit companies that served the area. This included the Pittsburgh Railways Company and 32 independent bus and incline operations.

On April 19, 1963, the Board of Allegheny County Commissioners authorized the acquisition of 32 transit companies, including the Pittsburgh Railways Company, which had provided bus and streetcar service to Pittsburgh since January 1902, and an incline plane company, for about $12 million. On March 1, 1964, Port Authority Transit began service.

Shortly after the Port Authority began service, 150 GM "Fishbowl" buses were introduced to replace aging ones acquired from its predecessors, a new route numbering convention was introduced, and the fare system was streamlined. Due to urban sprawl, the agency introduced new routes that served new communities. In the following years, additional buses were ordered and several new transit garages opened. Many of the trolley lines acquired from Pittsburgh Railways were abandoned, and turned into bus lines; South Hills lines via Beechview and Overbrook were retained. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Port Authority hoped to introduce a modern rapid transit system known as Skybus with rubber-tired vehicles running on rails, but the plan fell through.

In the early 1970s, the Port Authority entered what was dubbed by its fans the "Mod" era, with buses repainted in splashy paint schemes. Several new flyer routes and routes to Oakland's university core were introduced as part of a new general marketing strategy. In 1975 the Port Authority took over the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad commuter rail line to Versailles, which it branded PATrain. These new routes, coupled with the 1973 oil crisis, generated a major increase in ridership. Due to the poor state of the economy at the time, fares increased and there was a brief strike in 1976. In spite of these setbacks, the South Busway opened in 1977 and plans for other capital investments were made.

During the 1980s, with gas prices falling and population loss from the decline of the steel industry, ridership decreased and the agency lowered fares to attract new riders in the middle of the decade. Many new buses were ordered, and the Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway opened in 1983. Construction of a light rail line that started in downtown south to traverse Beechview, with lines to South Hills Village and Library progressed during the decade. Part of the line was an updated version of the old trolley system. In July 1985, the downtown subway opened, the Beechview line followed in 1987 and the Library line a year later. In 1989, the agency celebrated its twenty-fifth year of existence, and commuter rail to Versailles was discontinued.

The agency was rocked by a four-week strike due to a labor dispute in 1992. The strike, coupled with changing demographic patterns, caused a decrease in ridership. New buses that were compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 were introduced early in the decade. In 1993, the badly deteriorated Overbrook light rail line was shut down, requiring trains to use the Beechview line. Several capital projects, such as the construction of a western busway and light rail extensions were considered. In 1998, the agency rebranded itself as "Ride Gold" with new paint schemes and a new marketing campaign.

In 2000, the West Busway from the Ohio River to Carnegie was opened. Shortly thereafter, new bus routes to outlying communities such as Cranberry were established. In 2003, a short extension of the East Busway was completed. The following year, the Overbrook light rail line was re-opened after a lengthy reconstruction. Construction also started on a light rail extension to Pittsburgh's North Shore near Heinz Field, known as the North Shore Connector. In spite of the capital projects expansion, the agency was in serious financial trouble by the middle of the decade. In June 2007, the agency went through with a 15 percent service cut in order to cut the deficit. In order to provide a dedicated source of funding, Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato introduced the controversial 10% Allegheny County Alcoholic Beverage Tax in 2008 to fund the agency. Later that same year, another strike was narrowly averted. The agency is planning a major service overhaul that will begin to go into effect in March 2010.

Pittsburgh Regional Transit pays $168,763 annually to Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney and $48,750 annually to Greenlee Partners to lobby the Pennsylvania General Assembly.


Funding crisis of 2010–12

Between 2007 and 2010, Pittsburgh Regional Transit cut its annual expenses by $52 million and raised its revenues by $14 million to help alleviate a statewide transportation funding crisis. The funding crisis only grew worse, however. The state legislature assumed it would receive permission to convert Interstate 80 into a toll road to increase revenues, but the federal government denied the request, leading to a gap in the state transportation budget of $472 million.

On November 24, 2010, Pittsburgh Regional Transit's board of directors approved a massive service cut and fare hike to go into effect in March 2011, reducing service hours by approximately 35 percent, including the elimination of 45 routes. Pittsburgh Regional Transit's budget from the state was to be substantially reduced for 2011, and as chairperson Joan Ellenbogen noted, the PRT is legally required to adopt a balanced budget. Chairperson Guy Mattola stated that "Unfortunately, we are now at the point that all options have been exhausted...It is necessary to move forward with this service reduction plan recognizing the devastating consequences for riders and non-riders alike."

On December 13, 2010, the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission approved a plan by governor Ed Rendell to allocate $45 million in temporary funding for Pittsburgh Regional Transit to help reduce the magnitude of these service cuts. Many details of the emergency funding, including how long Pittsburgh Regional Transit must make the $45 million last and exactly how many routes slated to be cut could be saved, were not settled by the end of 2010.

On March 27, 2011, a 15 percent service reduction went into force. Twenty nine routes were removed, thirty seven reduced, and a bus maintenance facility shut down.

On September 2, 2012, a 35% reduction is scheduled; fares rose on July 1 to $2.50 in Zone 1.

In November 2013, the Pennsylvania legislature approved a long-awaited and hotly debated transportation bill, now known as Act 89. Act 89 provided dedicated funding to Pittsburgh Regional Transit, putting the agency on more solid financial footing. One of the routes cut in 2011, the 55 Glassport, was restored in 2013.


The Steel Plaza subway station.

(John Marino, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons)


The Pittsburgh Regional Transit brand

Although Pittsburgh Regional Transit is part of the local fans' folklore, its off-beat imaging is more notorious. Throughout the 1960s and early 1970s the bus fleet was very recognizable with its fleet of air-conditioned GM "Fishbowls" (from their 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967 and 1971 orders) sporting a white top with small red strip. Other noticeable features included side destination signs placed near the exit door and an unusual seating arrangement with one side facing forward and the other lining up to match the seating placed on the wheel well. PAT would continue ordering buses in that specification until 1995 when they ordered buses with both seating sides facing front except when on wheel wells. The side destination signs were moved immediately to the left of the front door starting with the 1998 Neoplan AN-460 (articulated bus) order. This continued with the Neoplan Metroliner order but skipped the Neoplan AN-440LF order in 1999. The 2003 order of Gillig Advantage low-floors and all subsequent orders have conformed with the side sign next to front door configuration. It is worth noting that the 1980 GM's RTS buses acquired were specified with the current side sign configuration.

By 1972 it entered what was dubbed by fans the "Mod" era, as buses were given flashy new paint schemes. Buses were painted with color at the front and rear, slanted to line up with the windows, and a large white portion in between.

In the 1980s, the classic 1960s white and red strip look was updated with a larger red strip accompanied by a black strip painted around the window area, while a white background covered most of the bus exterior. This color scheme was in existence for roughly 20 years on the Flxible and NovaBus 'classics' series, although these buses were later repainted and refurbished into the uniform color livery up until their retirements.

In 1998, PRT rebranded itself as "Ride Gold" to coincide with its 35th anniversary.

In the early 2000s, Pittsburgh Regional Transit buses included various transportation-related words and phrases repeated across the exterior, such as the words "move", "go" "ride" or "connect", combinations of "rockin'" and "rollin'", "ziggin'" and "zaggin'", or "here" and "there".

On September 21, 2006, the then-Port Authority announced that it was retiring the "Ride Gold" campaign and that the bus and light rail fleet will follow the standard design and uniform colors of its Gillig bus fleet. The reason was the system's decision to return to a back-to-basics approach and to save costs on wholesale repainting and refurbishing. Their website began to use simple "PORT AUTHORITY" fonts, and some buses and light rail vehicles have been repainted with the standard "Port Authority" font.

On June 9, 2022, at Gateway Station, it was announced that the Port Authority of Allegheny County was rebranding due to their name being a misnomer. It was said that the new name better represented who they are and how they were viewed.


"T" logo gray and white

The logo for Pittsburgh's subway and light rail system.

Light rail

See: Pittsburgh Light Rail
Pittsburgh Regional Transit operates a 26-mile (42 km) light rail system called the "T" from downtown subway stations to neighborhoods and suburbs south of the city on surface tracks with right-of-way.

The system comprises three lines, all of which have a northern terminus at Allegheny station on Pittsburgh's North Shore near Acrisure Stadium and the Carnegie Science Center:

  • The Red Line, which runs through Beechview, Dormont, Mt. Lebanon, Castle Shannon and Bethel Park before terminating at South Hills Village
  • The Blue Line, which runs through Knoxville, Overbrook, Castle Shannon and Bethel Park before terminating at South Hills Village
  • The Silver Line, which runs through Knoxville, Overbrook, Castle Shannon, Bethel Park and South Park before terminating at Library



See: Monongahela Incline and Duquesne Incline
Pittsburgh's mass transit system also includes two unique funiculars (called "inclines" locally) from the top of Mt. Washington to its base along the Monongahela River, just across from Downtown Pittsburgh. In 2023, the two inclines had a combined ridership of 892,700.

Both the Duquesne Incline and the Monongahela Incline have stations along Grandview Avenue atop Mt Washington and in the Station Square area at the base.

The Duquesne Incline is owned by Pittsburgh Regional Transit, and The Society for the Preservation of the Duquesne Heights Incline operates it as a non-profit organization. It has the original cars and the original stations.


Improvements to Light Rail Infrastructure

In April of 2024, PRT announced upcoming improvements. Combining multiple rehabilitation projects, Pittsburgh Regional Transit will rehabilitate its light-rail system through 2028 and will invest over $150 million in a light-rail infrastructure rehabilitation project. According to a report from CBS News, PRT will combine several separate projects in order to “streamline operations and minimize disruptions.”