Finally, We Can Win Better Transit from Homestead to McKeesport

Image description: A view down PA-837 Duquesne Blvd near Kennywood Park of Port Authority’s vision for the Homestead to McKeesport Transportation and Pedestrian project. There are renderings in golden yellow of new street lights, benches, shelters, trash bins, and a ticket vending machine. There are red painted lines for possible bus only lanes, green sketches of trees on the Kennywood side and a pedestrian island in the center.

It’s GO Time. Homestead to McKeesport Transit Improvements are within reach!

Let’s make sure we see through to the finish line our demands for quality transit Beyond the East Busway: the Homestead to McKeesport edition. 

The Context: 

Years of organizing from riders led to the Port Authority’s recent adoption of the NextTransit long-range plan to build faster transit corridors with nicer transit stops beyond the East Busway. One of the top-line priorities that we have fought so hard for is the improvement of the 61C corridor in the Mon Valley, and now it’s happening! Port Authority is working on a Homestead-McKeesport Transit Improvement Project and will be holding virtual public meetings on

JOIN US. Tuesday, December 7th at 12:00-1:30pm and 6:30-8:00pm. Register to attend online or by phone at 412-566-5184.

You can see an interactive map and information about the proposed project here.

What’s in the Current Proposal that will Affect Riders:

There are several changes that the Port Authority is asking for feedback on, that are included in their planning documents. Specifically, 

Bus Stop Removal or “Consolidation” – The Port Authority is proposing to eliminate bus stops, which they argue will address safety, bus speed and reliability issues. We have serious concerns about these, particularly because many stops proposed for elimination in Homestead have high ridership and high numbers of wheelchair boardings (you can read more about PPT’s position on bus stop consolidation here). Some bus stops proposed for elimination are the stops at 8th Ave and West, 8th and Ann, 8th Ave and Dickson, 8th and Andrew, and Kennywood Blvd at #4000.

Rerouting of service – The Port Authority sees an opportunity to speed up buses along this corridor by shifting some bus service, but riders need to evaluate these proposals for their impact on transit access. Most notably, the Port Authority is considering moving the Duquesne section of the 61C from 2nd Ave to Duquesne Blvd, and to reroute 53L to stay on Amity Street rather than it’s current routing on Ann and McClure streets.

Bus stop improvements to select stops – The Port Authority is considering bus stop improvements to some stops like bigger station areas, benches, and better signage.

Walking/safety improvements – The Port Authority is proposing walking and safety improvements like pedestrian islands in the middle of the street to allow for shorter street crossings, crosswalks, pedestrian crossing signals and nearby bus stop sidewalk buildout.  

Speed improvements – The Port Authority is proposing some street improvements to give buses priority over cars on the road. Some notable improvements include adding a transit queue jump at the Homestead Grays Bridge to keep buses from getting stuck at the light on 8th Ave, and adding some short bus only lanes on 8th Ave.

Check out the current Port Authority Interactive Map for full details, and offer your feedback

So what are some things we could be advocating for?

This is an incredible opportunity to make transit fast, comfortable, accessible, safe, and supportive of local development. We want to dream big. One way to think about what we want to see is by identifying what is wrong, so we’re asking you to think through these questions and bring your answers to Tuesday’s meeting:

Safety – Where are the places along this corridor that are unsafe for riders — getting to and from the buses? While waiting for buses? And what would make the access to transit more safe for riders? What does a safe stop look like? How will Port Authority ensure the safety of pedestrians and riders during the construction phase(s)? How do they plan to install the pedestrian islands when roads are already at the point where they cannot be wid ened further?

Bus Stop Amenities – What amenities do you see at other stops that you’d want to see at your stop? What would make the wait more comfortable at a stop? For example, would Port Authority install charging ports at renovated stops and new stations?

Speed – What is slowing down your bus trips? What would make the trip faster? (For instance, do you have issues with timely transfers? Buses stopping frequently to pick up passengers? Buses waiting at red lights or behind cars?)  

Access – How will your trip be impacted if the proposed bus stop removals go through? 

What places would you like to go or could be served more directly if the Port Authority shifted the routes along the 837 corridor? What locations would you like to be easier for you to get to in Homestead, Duquesne and McKeesport? If the project construction ends up rerouting the 59, which riders saved from service cuts, how would that impact you?

Development – What kinds of things do you want to see built by quality bus stops along this corridor? More jobs, affordable and disability accessible housing, childcare centers, grocery stores?

RSVP for the meetings and advocate for change!

Port Authority has the opportunity to make this a beautiful and safe project that can serve everyone, but they will not do it on their own. The 61C is known as the most dangerous route with high ridership. Recently two people were struck by a driver near Kennywood, and one of the victims did not survive. Mobility is a human right, and we all deserve safe and accessible transportation! This means safe sidewalks, bus stops, and shelters near where we live and where we want to travel.

The only way major change will happen is when we organize together, speak up for our communities, and bring our blueprints to the planning table. 

We need to help them realize the full vision of safe, accessible, and effective transportation. We have the ability to win everything we fought for over the past few years, but it will not happen unless we make it to the last mile and push this over the finish line. 

JOIN US. Tuesday, December 7th at 12:00-1:30pm and 6:30-8:00pm.Register to attend online or by phone at 412-566-5184.

You can see an interactive map and information about the proposed project here.