The Beginner’s Guide to Port Authority: Using the Bus

Whether you are someone who just moved to the ‘Burgh, a first year student at one of the city’s colleges or universities, just visiting for a day, or your car broke down and the bus is your last resort, here are a couple of things to know to handle your Port Authority of Allegheny County experience like a pro.

The Bus Stop and Boarding

A typical bus stop sign in Allegheny County.

A typical bus stop sign in Allegheny County. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To makes sure you are at the right stop, each stop can be identified by the blue sign that says “Bus Stop”. Under most of these signs, there is a list of the bus routes that  belong to that stop. Wait for the bus to come to a complete stop and let all of the passengers that are exiting off first. Need to know what bus to take? Use Port Authority’s Trip Planner to find buses and times.


One way fare within Zone-One is $2.50 and Zone-Two is $3.75. Need a transfer? Just let the bus driver know before you pay, it’s only a dollar more. Make sure you have exact change, too. The bus drivers and fare-boxes do not give change. If you are paying with bills, check that they are as flat as possible. A crumpled dollar bill can jam the fare box and also makes for a grumpy bus driver.

Don’t forget, service within Pittsburgh’s Gold Triangle (Downtown Business District and the Cultural District) is free!

When to Pay

Knowing when to pay your fare is important, too! Before 7 p.m., if you are getting on a bus headed outbound, pay when getting off the bus. If you are on a bus headed in-bound, pay when getting on. After 7 p.m., always pay when boarding.

While Riding

Once you board, find yourself a seat. For some, sitting by a stranger can feel awkward, but that is part of the fun of public transit! Don’t be a seat hog either. If you have an open seat beside you, move closest to the window and make sure you do not place your belongings there so someone else can sit down. When there are no open seats, go as far back as you can on the bus and hold on to a rail. During busy hours, chances are you will be smushed with fellow passengers.

Most times at the front of the bus, an illuminated signed will read the stops as they are being approached (some older buses do not have these unfortunately). When you see your stop approaching, pull the yellow cord to signal your stop.


After you have signaled your stop, wait for the bus to come to a complete stop. Pay your fare if the bus is headed outbound before 7 p.m. Finally, don’t forget to thank the bus driver!


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  • Christopher Saylor

    Why would anyone use the antiquated Trip Planner when they can use Google Maps instead?

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  • Cynthia Madufor

    nice post and thanks for posting

  • Takiva

    What is the point of reference for outbound/inbound? Is Inbound referring to buses going downtown? I’m never sure.

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