Port Authority holding Bus Rapid Transit meetings—next meeting, Oct. 11 in McKeesport

Port Authority Bus (Photo by Can Pac Swire | flickr)

Riders in McKeesport, Homestead, Braddock could be affected

With the Port Authority of Allegheny County still working to finalize the details of its Bus Rapid Transit program, the authority has scheduled a series of meetings for riders in east suburbs and Mon Valley communities like McKeesport and Homestead that would be affected by changes that will be made to some routes—in particular the 61A, 61B and 61C, none of which will go to Downtown Pittsburgh once the new system is in place.

The BRT plan, announced in June and called “Core+2,” would deploy special buses between Downtown and Oakland running in dedicated lanes outbound on Forbes Avenue and inbound on Fifth Avenue, as buses serving 19 existing routes do now.

Beyond Oakland, it would include three branches—one extending toward Highland Park, one toward Squirrel Hill and Greenfield—and the final branch would carry passengers to East Liberty, Homewood and Wilkinsburg via the East Busway.

The bottom line is, 61s, 71s, (with 2 exceptions) would no longer serve Downtown. Inbound passengers would change in Oakland to a BRT. The other bus routes that operate in Oakland would not be affected.

Heading outbound, most routes would stay the same; the 61A, 61B and 61C follow the same routes and terminate at the same stops. The 61D, which today goes as far as The Waterfront in West Homestead, would stop in Greenfield—outbound, and inbound—becomes the Squirrel Hill BRT.

The 71s all follow the same routes beyond Oakland and end at the same stops. The P3 would end in Wilkinsburg, and no longer go to Swissvale.
Authority Spokesman Adam Brandolph said the first meeting to get feedback from Mon Valley riders on the proposed changes, was to be held at the Avenue Apartments in Braddock, Oct. 3. “Everyone in the Mon Valley is affected to some extent by these proposed changes; we want their input,” Brandolph said.
Much of what he’s heard revolves around the issues of free transfers—people don’t want to pay another fare to switch buses in Oakland, for a ride they only pay once for now—and of frequency. Riders want more buses more often, even in non-peak hours.
“That’s not unique to these neighborhoods. Everyone would rather wait eight minutes than 30,” Brandolph said. “These days we see a lot of bunch—three of the same exact buses in a row, and the fourth not for 20 minutes. What we want is fewer buses with 80 passengers and fewer with eight.”
Brandolph said some of the feedback so far has been well pointed and made suggestions on minimizing the impact the BRT changes will make, which is why they have scheduled two more Mon Valley meetings: Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. at the Palisades, 100 Fifth Ave. in McKeesport, and Oct. 18, 6:30 p.m. at the Duquesne City Hall, 200 2nd St. in Duquesne.
“Everything is on the table that’s why we’re having these meetings,” he said. “We don’t have all the answers.”
The authority has also posted a survey designed for Mon Valley riders to address BRT changes, which has been posted on the authority’s main webpage at www.portauthority.org.
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