Pittsburgh Light Rail – It’s (partially) for free!

Pittsburgh Light Railway



3.3/5 Pros

  • Free city center zone
  • Very reasonably priced even for remote areas
  • One of few US light rail systems Cons

  • Connection to Southern suburbs only
  • Rolling stock is already a bit old

The climate discussions during the last months again boosted discussions whether local traffic could not be for free to reduce individual traffic in the city centers. Pittsburgh already has this concept implemented since a quite some time – at least in a limited way in the city center. This review looks at the Free Fare Zone as well as the Pittsburgh Light Rail in general.


Pittsburgh Light Rail – Network & Tariff

The Pittsburgh Light Rail System majorly connects the city with the Southern suburbs of the city. There are two lines, the Blue Line and the Red Line. In city center, they operate on the same routes and split at South Hills Junction.

The Free Fare Zone consists of the downtown stations First Avenue, Steel Plaza, Wood Street and Gateway. By building a tunnel bellow Allegheny River, the stations North Side and Allegheny (overground) have been added to the zone in 2012. All other rides in the system cost 2.75 USD or 2.50 if you use the Connect Card, which also allow a 1 USD transfer (which you for example can make use of when riding the Monongahela Incline.

There have been some other lines in the past, for example the Brown Line via Mount Washington.


Pittsburgh Light Rail – The Trains

Pittsburgh Light Rail operates two different train types. The Siemens SD-400 cars have already been built in the mid-1980s. The Spanish CAF LRV looks quite similar, but significantly more modern – the cars have been built around 2003. A train is more or less generally operating in a two car configuration.



Pittsburgh Light Rail – Stations & Environment

Though Pittsburgh Light Rail is not that modern, the stations are nice and compact. The pictures below show the central Gateway Station as well as Allegheny close to Heinz Field Stadium. In order to cross Mount Washington, the light rail needs to drive through a major tunnel next to Station Square, the first station, which does not belong to the Free Zone.


Pittsburgh Light Rail – My View

It is just a couple of stations, but the Free Fare Zone of Pittsburgh Light Rail is very handy. It especially allows you to take a parking lot next to the two large stadiums, Heinz Field and PNC Park and have a short ride into the city. The trams feel a bit outdated, but are still very handy to get around. Even though not free, the flat 2.75 USD fare is also a superb option to explore the suburbs of my hockey home town. in Pittsburgh

Here are more postings by related to Greater Pittsburgh:


“Rides on Rail” Postings

Here is everything about trains, trams and other rail vehicles:



Pittsburgh Light Rail plan taken from Wikipedia. File by Notyourbroom [CC BY-SA 3.0 (]


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