County Council approves motion urging Port Authority to reinstate weekend bus service in Garfield

During their meeting on Feb 16, Allegheny County Council unanimously approved a motion (sponsored by Councilwoman Denise Ranalli-Russell) urging the Port Authority to reinstate weekend service on the 89 Garfield bus. (for full text of motion, see below) Residents began a robust campaign for service this fall, with support from the Bloomfield Garfield Corporation and Pittsburghers for Public Transit.

Last night, the council heard from Garfield residents about the hardships they have faced ever since the weekend service was cut in 2011. Annie McGowan shared how she and her mother are unable to go to church events on the weekends. Myval Johnson expressed dismay that she cannot go shopping at the new Aldi grocery store on Saturdays, and Donna Terry shared her difficulties getting up to her mother’s home at N Aiken Court to take care of her. Aggie Brose, an advocate for the community and Deputy Director of the Bloomfield Garfield Corporation, asked the councilmembers to just imagine what their lives would be like without a car and Molly Nichols, from Pittsburghers for Public Transit, discussed the community campaign for service that has generated over 400 requests for service—all submitted to Port Authority.

Many councilmembers spoke in support. Mr. Ellenbogen shared how he walked that hill every day for 4 years to get to high school at Peabody. Mr. Futules said “people’s lives depend on the bus.” Mr. Palmiere expressed the value of advocating for extended bus service, and Mr. Walton highlighted the importance of fixing the “prior damage” that was done to communities during the cuts.
The Garfield bus campaign applauds the council for unanimously passing this motion. More support from elected officials gets us closer to ensuring that all communities get the transit service they need.
photo by Casy Stelitano
Aggie Brose, Denise Ranalli-Russell, Annie McGowan, Donna Terry, Molly Nichols, and Myval Johnson celebrating the unanimous support from county council for weekend service in Garfield.
Bill No. ___9478-16_________________
Urging the Port Authority of Allegheny County to reinstate at least some weekend service on the 89 – Garfield Commons bus route in order to adequately address the service needs of the population of the Garfield area of the City of Pittsburgh.
Whereas, as part of the Port Authority of Allegheny County’s 2011 service reductions, weekend service on the 89 – Garfield Commons bus route was discontinued; and
Whereas, losing this service has negatively impacted the neighborhood, and most particularly has disadvantaged a large number of its residents who rely on public transit to get to their jobs (many of which require working on weekends), the grocery store, shopping, community events, places of worship, medical appointments, and more; and
Whereas, currently, 400 people utilize the Garfield Commons route each weekday, while 73.5% of renters in this community do not have access to a vehicle, 93.4% of these residents are African American, and 55.4% of the families in the area live in poverty and are disproportionately disadvantaged by the 2011 service reductions; and
Whereas, many of these transit-dependent riders are now forced to walk up and down steep hills on the weekend for a distance of over half a mile, to get to Penn Ave and Negley Ave in order to access other buses or reach destinations in Garfield, Friendship, Bloomfield, and East Liberty; and
Whereas, residents who are not able to make the lengthy walk must rely on other individuals to give them rides, or must resort to jitneys or taxis, which are comparatively extremely expensive but, for these individuals, they are often the only alternative to remaining stuck in their homes; and
Whereas, many of these residents are senior citizens and eligible for free passes but they cannot use them on the weekend as a result of the service reduction;
Whereas, other Garfield residents who buy weekly, monthly, or yearly passes also are unable to use them on weekends, which account for over 25% of the days in a calendar year, and are thus deprived of a substantial portion of the benefit of having bus passes that span weekends; and
Whereas, even those residents who are eligible for Access must still pay for this service, and, depending upon the nature of their travel needs, may not be able to furnish the 24 hour advance notice necessary to arrange for Access service; and
Whereas, these residents have united to call for reinstatement of weekend bus service on the 89 – Garfield Commons route – an action that would not entail the creation of a new bus route, but, rather, would only require the extension of existing service hours – and have canvassed the neighborhood, attended community meetings, spoken at Port Authority board meetings, met with elected officials, and submitted over 400 requests to the Port Authority as the Authority considers numerous requests for service according to their service guidelines criteria;
Whereas, it is the judgment of Council that the hardships incurred by the termination of weekend service on the 89 – Garfield Commons bus route are significant, have a deleterious effect on the health, safety and well-being of the residents of that area of the City, and are disproportionately borne by minority, elderly, and economically disadvantaged populations.
Hereby urges the Port Authority of Allegheny County to reinstate at least some weekend service on the 89 – Garfield Commons bus route in order to adequately address the service needs of the population of the Garfield area of the City of Pittsburgh.