ConnectCard.org - FAQs

ConnectCard Frequently Asked Questions

You may have questions about using ConnectCard. Read on for answers to our Frequently Asked Questions. If any of your questions aren't covered here, please call Customer Service at 412-442-2000 (TTY 412-231-7007).

About ConnectCard

What is ConnectCard?

ConnectCard is Port Authority's smart card fare collection system. It provides a more convenient and secure way to pay fares. The system uses a plastic smart card called a ConnectCard with a computer chip inside that can store a variety of fare options, including passes and fare value.

Why does it say "a regional transit partnership" on the front of ConnectCard?

Although Port Authority is the lead agency on this project, ConnectCard was envisioned as a regional smart card system that would make it easier for riders to transfer between the transit services of Southwestern Pennsylvania. For instance, a regular Port Authority rider who occasionally takes trips into another county could load a monthly Port Authority pass on a ConnectCard, then also load money onto their card to pay for trips taken on a participating regional transit provider. 
The regional partnership consists of: Port Authority of Allegheny County, Fayette Area Coordinated Transportation (FACT), Butler Transit Authority, Mid Mon Valley Transit Authority, City of Washington and Westmoreland County Transit Authority.

What changes have occurred as a result of ConnectCard?   

  • Paper passes and tickets have been phased out and are available on a ConnectCard.
  • Annual pass users no longer receive a new pass each month. The entire year-long pass is stored on the ConnectCard.
  • At ConnectCard machines, single trips, single trips with transfers, weekly passes and the equivalent of a 10-trip pass are now sold on a paper smart ticket, called ConnecTix.

What has stayed the same?

  • Passes are sold at select retailers and the Port Authority's Downtown Service Center.
  • Senior citizens will continue to show their blue/yellow paper identification cards to ride for free.

Benefits of ConnectCard

How does the ConnectCard system help riders?

  • More Convenience: Purchase and reload ConnectCards online, at select Port Authority T and busway stations, Port Authority's Downtown Service Center and at participating retail outlets.
  • More Security: Balance Protection is available for customers in case their card is ever lost or stolen.

How does the ConnectCard system help Port Authority?

  • Captures Lost Revenue: The ConnectCard system's sophisticated technology reduces fare evasion, which costs the Port Authority thousands of dollars in revenue each year.
  • Improves Customer Service: More reliable equipment will allow the Authority to better serve its customers.
  • Generates Savings: The ConnectCard can be reloaded and does not have to be replaced every month, saving the Authority thousands of dollars in printing and distribution costs.
  • Reduces Paper: Printing fewer passes is better for the environment.

Why should I switch from using cash to using a ConnectCard?

You don't have to commit to a weekly or monthly pass to enjoy the benefits of ConnectCard. Riders can load money onto their card by choosing the "stored cash value" option. When you ride, the cost of each trip will be deducted from the value stored on your card, making this type of card a smart option for occasional riders or those who choose not to purchase a pass.   

A stored cash value ConnectCard offers many advantages over using cash:

  • Avoid the 25 cent cash surcharge
  • Transfer for $1 instead of having to pay another $2.75 cash fare
  • ConnectCard users can sign up for balance protection to ensure their money is safe in the event their card is lost or stolen.
  • ConnectCard users are eligible for ConnectRewards deals offered by hundreds of local businesses.
  • Paying with ConnectCard takes only a few seconds. No fumbling with change or smoothing out dollars.

Get a ConnectCard

Where can I get a ConnectCard?

  • Riders can get a ConnectCard at Port Authority's Downtown Service Center, area Giant Eagle locations and other selected retailers (view complete list).
  • Plastic ConnectCards cannot be purchased from ConnectCard machines. Machines will only dispense paper ConnecTix intended for short-term use.

Does it cost anything to buy a ConnectCard?

New and replacement ConnectCards costs $1.

What kind of fare options are available on ConnectCard?

  • Calendar-based annual, weekly and monthly passes.
  • Stored cash value to purchase rides and transfers as well pay for zone upcharges. 
  • Reduced-fare ConnectCards for riders with disabilities.

For more information on current Port Authority fares, visit the Fares page at PortAuthority.org.

What are ConnecTix?

ConnecTix are limited-use smart cards that can be purchased at ConnectCard machines. These cards are made of heavy paper rather than plastic, and are designed for visitors and occasional riders. They are tapped to the orange farebox target just like a regular ConnectCard.

Reminders about ConnecTix:

  • Balance protection is not offered
  • Discounted fares (such as half fares) are not available
  • ConnecTix are not reloadable and are only sold at ConnectCard machines
  • ConnecTix expire 30 days from date of purchase
  • Transfers must be purchased with cash at the farebox

What fare options are available on ConnecTix?

  • Weekly Passes
  • 10-Trip Pass
  • Single-Trip ConnecTix
  • Single-Trip ConnecTix with Transfer

Here's how to use ConnectTix:

Paying With ConnectCard

How do I use ConnectCard to pay my fare?

Instead of showing a paper pass to the operator or depositing cash into the farebox, simply tap your ConnectCard to the farebox's card reader, which looks like a rectangular orange pad. A green light and a single beep indicate that the card has been accepted.

How do I use ConnectCard at a stop with a farebooth attendant?

Simply tap your ConnectCard to the farebox at the booth.

Validators are an option for convenient fare payment at select T platforms. When activated, riders will tap their card to the validator target. Validators will only be available when farebooth attendants are on duty. ConnectCard users must tap their card to the farebox at all other times.

How do I purchase and use a transfer with ConnectCard?

To purchase a transfer with ConnectCard you must have stored cash value loaded to your ConnectCard prior to riding.  Then, simply tap your card to pay for your trip. When you tap your card on your next trip, within three hours, the transfer fee is automatically deducted from your ConnectCard.
Please note that this function is not available with ConnecTix. 

Can I use my ConnectCard to pay for a companion's ride?

No. All individuals riding together must pay their own fare separately using separate ConnectCards. Multiple ConnectCard taps or "pass-backs" are not accepted by Port Authority fareboxes or validators.

Will I be charged extra if I accidentally tap my card more than once?

No. Our system will not deduct extra rides or stored cash value for multiple taps in a row. The first tap will deduct your fare. Any subsequent tap will cause the farebox screen to display an alert message ("Already Valid: Double Tapped") and you will hear a triple tone, but you will not be charged again.

Reloading ConnectCard

Can I reload my ConnectCard online?

Yes, riders can reload their card online by using Port Authority's web-based ConnectCard account management portal.

Where can riders reload their ConnectCard?

How do riders add passes or stored cash value to a ConnectCard?

At a ConnectCard machine:

  • Tap the ConnectCard to the orange target located to the right of the screen.
  • Your current ConnectCard cash balance and any active or pending passes will show on the screen.
  • Follow the onscreen prompts to add a pass or stored cash value to the card.
  • Select your method of payment, then insert cash or a credit/debit card to pay. ConnectCard machines accept Visa, MasterCard and Discover, including transit benefit cards with a credit card logo.
  • Tap the card to the orange target again to load your purchased pass or value onto your ConnectCard.

Please note that ConnectCard machines are unable to accept more than one form of payment per transaction. Please visit the Downtown Service Center or a ConnectCard retailer if you need to use multiple forms of payment.

Visit our Get Started page to view videos on using ConnectCard machines.

At a retailer or the Downtown Service Center:

  • The Downtown Service Center accepts cash, credit/debit (Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express), money orders and transit benefit vouchers/cards.
  • Participating retailers may have varying policies. Please check with individual stores for details.

Online: Click here to go to the ConnectCard Management System.

  1. Choose one of the following links:
  • Create Online Account" - allows new customers to set up an account. If you registered your ConnectCard for balance protection earlier with Customer Service, but did not set up a web account at that time, DO NOT use the "Create Online Account" button. Please call Customer Service at 412-442-2000 for assistance.
  • Login" - enables returning customers to get into their ConnectCard account by simply entering an email address and password.
  • Add Product to Unregistered Card" - this function is for customers who choose not to register their ConnectCard for balance protection. Customers who elect not to register their card may purchase fare products online, but are unable to check their balance and further manage their account.
  • If you are a registered cardholder and have trouble remembering when to reload your ConnectCard, we can help. Choose the "Recurring Autoload" option to automatically reload your ConnectCard with a new monthly pass for the following month. Customers will now see the transaction occur on the 18th day of the preceding month. Or, choose the "Threshold Autoload" option to automatically reload stored cash value each time your balance falls below $20.
  • Follow the prompts carefully and be sure not to omit any required fields.
  • Please note: Your product will be loaded onto your ConnectCard the next time you tap it to a farebox, ConnectCard machine or ConnectCard validator.

When can I add next week's or next month's pass to my card?

Passes are available for reloading at the Service Center, retail locations and ConnectCard machines on the following days:

  • Weekly passes: New weekly passes go on sale each Thursday. Weekly passes for the current week are sold through Wednesday.  
  • Monthly passes: Monthly passes go on sale on the 16th of each month and are available through the 9th of the month.

What is stored cash value?

Stored cash value is money loaded onto your ConnectCard to pay for transit rides. Cash value stored on your ConnectCard is deducted to pay your fare (and transfer) when you tap your card at a farebox. For example, if you load $20 of stored cash value onto your ConnectCard, then take a ride, $2.50 will be deducted from your card, leaving a balance of $17.50.

How much stored cash value can I put on my card?

Your ConnectCard can store a maximum of $200 in stored cash value at one time.

How many fare products can my ConnectCard store at a time?
 
ConnectCards will hold a maximum of two passes (one active and one pending) plus a maximum of $200 in stored cash value.

Can I switch between different fare options on the same ConnectCard?

Yes. For example, if you initially purchase a ConnectCard loaded with a monthly pass, you can later switch to a weekly pass or stored cash value without needing to get a new card. 

Is my pass or stored cash value available for use as soon as it's loaded?

If you reload your card at a ConnectCard machine or retailer, your pass or stored cash value is available for use immediately. If you use the Online ConnectCard Management system,your stored cash value may take up to 72 hours for the product to be available. So, please plan accordingly.

How can riders confirm that a pass or cash value was added to their card?

The ConnectCard balance or pass product is displayed on the farebox screen each time a rider taps their card, or at any ConnectCard Machine and at Port Authority's Downtown Service Center. Riders may also confirm their transaction history by contacting Customer Service at 412-442-2000.

How can riders determine how much money remains on their ConnectCard?

  • Riders can use online account management to check their ConnectCard balance.
  • The remaining card balance will show on the farebox screen each time a rider taps their ConnectCard and at any ConnectCard machine or at Port Authority's Downtown Service Center.
  • Riders should NOT tap their card to a validator (at select T stations) just to check their balance. Using a validator will deduct money from your card.

Online Management Portal

What products are available online?

  • Annual Passes.
  • Monthly passes are available beginning the 16th day of the preceding month. (For customers who use the recurring autoload feature, it will occur the 18th day of the month).
  • Weekly passes go on sale every Thursday for the following week.
  • Stored cash value can be loaded to a card at any time in denominations of $5, $10, $20 $25 and $50.
  • Changes can be made before submitting the purchase by using the drop down screen to select new pass or value amount.

Will the products purchased online be available immediately?

No. Purchases made through the web may take up to 72 hours for the product to be available. So, please plan accordingly.

What forms of payment does the system accept?

The ConnectCard Online Management system only accepts Visa, MasterCard and Discover cards.

Is purchasing online secure?

Yes. Our system uses industry-standard SSL Authentication to safeguard your personal information and encrypt all credit card transactions.

How is the product loaded onto my ConnectCard? 

Your product will be loaded onto your ConnectCard the next time that you tap it to a farebox, ConnectCard machine or ConnectCard validator.

How many transactions can be made in one day?

For security purposes, customers are permitted to make up to (6) transactions per day using the same credit card before it is declined.

How many ConnectCards can I load in one day using the same credit card?

Up to (6) ConnectCards can be reloaded within a 24-hour period using the same credit card.

Protect Your ConnectCard

What is Balance Protection?

The Balance Protection program preserves the value on a ConnectCard in the event that it is lost or stolen. It enables Port Authority to deactivate the old card and transfer the rider's pass and/or stored value balance to a new ConnectCard.

How do I sign up for Balance Protection?

  • Annual pass customers may sign up for balance protection when they purchase or renew their subscription.
  • Other customers may either register their cards by calling Port Authority Customer Service at 412-442-2000. Please call 24 hours after receiving your ConnectCard.
  • Riders can also register their cards through Port Authority's web-based ConnectCard account management portal.

Does Balance Protection cost anything?

No. Balance Protection is a free service.

Is signing up for Balance Protection mandatory?

No. However, it is highly recommended, particularly for annual pass customers, since the value on their card is $1072.50 or more. The value on an unregistered card cannot be replaced if it is lost or stolen.

What information is needed to sign up for Balance Protection?

Riders will be asked to provide their name, address, phone number and mother's maiden name. The mother's maiden name will serve as the security code to verify that the card belongs to the rider reporting it lost or stolen.

How is Port Authority protecting riders' personal information?

Port Authority is committed to protecting the information collected by the ConnectCard system. The data we collect from customers is transferred over a secure connection, password protected and encrypted. Our database is further protected by a firewall.

Additionally, access to personal information is only permitted when customers report an issue with their card and limited to a handful of personnel who have special security clearance.

What should I do if my ConnectCard is lost or stolen?

  • First, contact Port Authority Customer Service at 412-442-2000 immediately.
  • If you are signed up for balance protection, Port Authority Customer Service will deactivate your old card and authorize a new card with your pass and/or stored cash value balance on it. You must visit the Downtown Service Center on Smithfield Street to receive your replacement card. Bring a form of photo identification.
  • Please note that if you did not sign up for balance protection, the cash value and/or pass on your card cannot be recovered.

Will I be charged for a replacement card?

You will be charged $1 for a replacement ConnectCard.

Are there any special precautions that must be taken to protect a ConnectCard?

ConnectCards have components that can become damaged. Keep the card in a safe place, such as a wallet, to help ensure that it doesn't become scratched or cracked. Also, be careful not to wash it when doing laundry. Do not punch a hole in your card to put it on a lanyard or keychain.

Will a ConnectCard still work if placed next to another smart card?

Keeping smart cards next to each other will not damage the ConnectCard. However, ConnectCard readers and fareboxes may not be able to read your card when it's placed next to another smart card. If this happens, simply separate the ConnectCard from other cards and tap it again to the reader.

Reduced Fare & Special Programs

How do reduced-fare ConnectCards work?

Riders with disabilities who qualify for reduced fare (half the full fare) will receive a plastic ConnectCard. Reduced-fare ConnectCards will be color-coded by sex and will be personalized with the rider's name and expiration date. The ConnectCard serves as both your reduced-fare ID and your form of payment!

There is no additional cost for the ConnectCard. Riders using the reduced-fare ConnectCard may load either or both of the following fare options onto their card:

  • 10-Trip Pass: This will load a block of ten trips onto your card and works just like the old paper tickets --one trip is deduced each time you ride.
  • Stored cash value: This is money you load onto your card to pay for fares, transfers and zone upcharges. Your ConnectCard can hold a maximum of $200 in stored cash value.

Riders may store both a 10-trip pass and stored cash value on their card at the same time. We encourage 10-trip users to add stored cash value to their card if they will need to use transfers or if they are a 1-zone rider who may need to travel two zones on occasion. 

Your ConnectCard can be reloaded over and over again, and is both more durable and more secure than paper ID cards and tickets. All reduced-fare ConnectCards will be automatically registered for balance protection. In the event your card is ever lost or stolen, simply notify Port Authority Customer Service and we will transfer your trips and/or stored cash value to a new card at no cost to you.

Are reduced-fare cards available for children?
 
Yes. The Kids ConnectCard is availble for children ages 6-11. Please visit this site to view and complete the application.

Are there restrictions on paying half-fare during peak travel periods?

No. Eligible riders pay half fare at all times, on all days.

When and where can I get a reduced-fare/half-fare ConnectCard?

New applicants for a reduced fare ConnectCard should visit Port Authority's Service Center in person to apply. The Service Center is located at 534 Smithfield Street in Downtown Pittsburgh and is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.

Can I get a reduced-fare ConnectCard if I have a temporary disability?

Yes. If you have a temporary disability you will receive a reduced-fare ConnectCard printed with an expiration date. Please visit Port Authority's Downtown Service Center at 534 Smithfield Street to apply.

How do I reload my reduced-fare ConnectCard?
 
Once you receive your reduced-fare ConnectCard, you may load trips and stored cash value onto the card online or at a number of locations, including Port Authority's Downtown Service Center, ConnectCard machines, many Giant Eagle locations and other select retailers. View a complete locations list. Additionally, ConnectCard machines are located at many busway and T stations.

Will Job Perks riders be able to use ConnectCard?

Yes, ConnectCards will be available for these riders in the future. Please check back at a later date for more details.

How do WageWorks participants use ConnectCard? 

It depends on how you receive your benefits. WageWorks participants who receive a Visa or MasterCard-branded transit benefit card may use that card to purchase passes or stored value for ConnectCard. The Downtown Service Center and ConnectCard machines accept these cards as payment. Please note that our ConnectCard machines only accept one form of payment per transaction, so if you do not have enough on your card to cover your purchase, the machine may reject your transaction. If you need to use another form of payment in addition to your WageWorks card, please visit our Downtown Service Center for your transaction.

WageWorks participants who receive a voucher to purchase transit benefits must take their voucher to the Downtown Service Center.

Please note that WageWorks benefit cards and vouchers are not accepted at Giant Eagle or other retailers.

Those participants who receive passes in the mail or from their employers will be transitioned to ConnectCard at a later date.

ConnectCard Troubleshooting

What do I do if my ConnectCard has expired?

ConnectCards are programmed to expire after two years of inactivity. Any transaction or use on a vehicle starts a new two-year period.

A limited number of customers who have had ConnectCards since early 2013 are finding that these cards are expiring. This is due to a technical issue with a specific set of cards issued in early 2013. The issue is being addressed.

If your card has expired, you should take the card to Port Authority's Service Center on Smithfield Street to get a replacement. Any value on your card will be transferred to the new card. Bus and T operators will allow customers whose cards have expired to ride until the customer has had an opportunity to obtain a new card.

If you're not sure of your ConnectCard's expiration date, this is visible during a farebox transaction or by visiting a ConnectCard machine.

What happens when a ConnectCard doesn't work at the farebox?

Riders should hear a single beep when they tap their ConnectCard to the farebox's orange target. If this does not occur, tap the ConnectCard again and hold it to the target until it beeps.

  • If the message on the farebox reads "Insufficient Funds," go to a ConnectCard Machine, the Downtown Service Center or a participating retail outlet and place value on the card.
  • If the message reads "Card Not Readable," tap the ConnectCard again, but this time hold it against the card reader until a beep and acceptance message is received.
  • If the message reads "Already Valid: Double Tapped," it's possible that your card was accidentally read twice by the farebox. When tapping your ConnectCard, touch it briefly to the orange target until you hear a beep, then remove your card. Please note that Port Authority fareboxes do not allow for pass-backs; riders traveling together may not share a ConnectCard on the same trip.
  • If the message reads "Card Not Valid," contact Port Authority Customer Service at 412-442-2000 with the card's serial number so they can research the problem. Please record the date, time and vehicle number of the bus/T to help Port Authority resolve the issue.

What happens if I only have a ConnectCard and the farebox is out of order?

In the event that a farebox isn't working properly, riders with a ConnectCard will not be asked to pay any additional fare.

How do I report a problem with a ConnectCard machine?

If you've experienced a problem with a ConnectCard machine, please call Port Authority Customer Service at 412-442-2000. Be sure to have basic information handy like the nature of your problem, location of machine, and time/date. Additionally, each ConnectCard machine has a device ID number located on a tag above the orange card target. If possible, please make note of this number when you report the problem to Customer Service.