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Port Authority of Allegheny County's board is expected to vote this week to demolish the dilapidated bus station on Lysle Boulevard.
It's the first step toward building a new transportation center in McKeesport, and possibly expanding the park-and-ride lot.
The directors of the region's largest transit authority will decide on Friday whether to award a $1.2 million contract to Terra Works Inc. to demolish the McKeesport Transportation Center, build a new restroom facility for bus operators, and repair and replace sidewalks and paving.
The price also includes work to be done at a park-and-ride facility in Ross Twp., north of Pittsburgh.
Port Authority's near-term plans do include construction of a new bus station in McKeesport, but the timetable is unclear, spokesman Adam Brandolph said. "We're definitely getting onto that path, but it's still early," he said.
The transit center was built in the 1970s to serve buses as well as the Versailles-to-Pittsburgh commuter train service and Amtrak's "Capitol Limited" between Chicago and Washington.
But the PATrain was cancelled in April 1987, and the "Capitol" discontinued its McKeesport stop two years later, leaving the transportation center mostly unused and closed to the public. Only Port Authority employees currently are permitted to use the building.
Demolition is likely to begin within nine months, Brandolph said.
"We are looking to fund a new structure that would be open to the public," Brandolph said. One idea being discussed, he said, is a facility that would be more convenient to pedestrians on Lysle Boulevard.
Also being discussed is the creation of a larger park-and-ride lot for commuters who leave their cars and take buses to Oakland or downtown Pittsburgh, Brandolph said, but no firm plans have been made.
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Bigger changes, meanwhile, are coming to Port Authority. Beginning Jan. 1, the current Port Authority fare zones will be eliminated, and all rides will cost the same price. Also being eliminated are paper transfers.
In addition, all Port Authority buses will be "pay-as-you-enter."
Currently, during morning and afternoon hours, Port Authority uses a system sometimes called "pay-in-your-country," or "pay where you live," where, for example, riders bound from Pittsburgh to McKeesport pay in McKeesport, and riders bound from McKeesport to Pittsburgh also pay in McKeesport.
Brandolph said the "pay where you live" system is confusing both to transit operators and riders.
Also beginning Jan. 1, Port Authority is trying to discourage the use of cash and encourage riders to switch to the "ConnectCard," an reloadable, electronic plastic card.
Riders using a ConnectCard will pay a discounted fare of $2.50 per ride, while those using cash will be charged $2.75. The vast majority of riders are already using the ConnectCard, Brandolph said, which can be purchased directly from Port Authority or at most Giant Eagle supermarkets in Allegheny County.
ConnectCards, which are reusable and can be reloaded using the Port Authority's website, are currently free, but will soon cost $1, Brandolph said.
The push to ConnectCards is designed to cut costs and make it quicker and easier to board buses and light-rail vehicles, he said.
The Port Authority has set up a special website to explain the changes at http://simple.portauthority.org/. Brandolph said that riders who have further questions may call (412) 442-2000.
Originally published November 14, 2016.