Big service changes proposed for buses that go through Oakland, Uptown, and Downtown – Give your feedback today!
The changes that are being proposed as part of PRT’s new Bus Rapid Transit service plan will have major impacts on the 61D, 71A, 71C, 71D, P3. What PRT is calling “minor changes” will additionally impact the 28X, 54, 67, 69, 75, 81, 83, 93. See more information about these changes below and make sure to submit public comments to PRT before the public comment period closes on February 1st!
PRT’s Bus Rapid Transit project from Downtown to Oakland has been in the works for a long time. The agency has been looking at options to better connect Oakland and Downtown since the 90’s (and arguably even earlier). You can see some of that history and more info on the project in PRT’s Purpose and Need Statement Report or on PRT’s BRT webpage. All throughout this process, Riders have been advocating for better connections and improved public process. In 2018, PPT celebrated a major victory with residents of the Mon Valley who defeated a BRT service proposal that would have severely reduced service frequency, cut their direct transit connections to downtown AND forced them to pay a transfer.
Now that PRT has their official public comment period open to give input on the changes, it’s time for riders to pay attention and speak up again. See our summery of changes below, and how to give feedback at the bottom of this blog.
Summary of the changes
As we said before, the BRT plan is making major changes to the 61D, 71A, 71C, 71D and P3.
The same major change is essentially being proposed for the 61D, 71A, 71C, 71D: all of these routes will turn around in Oakland and no longer service downtown. These inbound routes will turn from Fifth ave onto Craft, then turn onto Forbes to continue their outbound trip. Here is a map of that routing from PRT’s website:
The 61A, 61B, 61C, and 71B will all still continue downtown and be able to use the BRT bus-only lanes, which will likely make those routes faster and more reliable..
The other major change is that the P3 will no longer serve Hamnet Station, Roslyn Station or Swissvale Station on the busway. Positive changes to the P3 are that it will continue into Downtown from Oakland, and that it will gain weekend hours, running 7:00am-11:00pm.
There are also some minor proposals for changes being made to routes that service the Oakland, Uptown, and Downtown area, the 28X, 54, 67, 69, 75, 81, 83, 93. Most of them are small routing changes, but riders should read the details on PRT’s site to give comment.
See PRT’s project page for details on the BRT Service Plan.
There’s always potential for issues with any change. Changes that may be benefits for some may be barriers for others. The hope, as always, is that changes will be a net benefit to riders and the system. But here’s a summary of what we see and have heard about the biggest potential issues with the proposed changes:
- With the 61D, 71A, 71C, 71D ending in Oakland, riders will lose the direct connections to Downtown and Uptown. This includes Mercy Hospital, Duquesne University, and PPG Paints Arena – where thousands of people travel for jobs, healthcare and recreation everyday. Conversely, these changes will also mean Uptown residents will lose direct access via these routes to Shadyside Hospital, Hillman Cancer Center, Homewood and other points in the East End. So while riders will still be able to access these locations, a transfer will be required (which means the overall trip will take longer and people paying cash will need to pay an additional $2.75).
- The change to the P3 will likely be concerning for riders who live near Hamnet, Roslyn, or Swissvale Stations on the East Busway, and those who use either of the park and ride lots in this section. These people will lose their fastest direct connection to Oakland. Which again means riders will be forced to transfer to the P3 at Wilkinsburg Station or take the longer 61A or 61B routes to Oakland. Again, this means a longer trip for riders and another $2.75 for those paying cash. Moreover, if P3 service changes leave Wilkinsburg as the only East Busway Park and Ride for Oakland commuters, then this poses the potential for overcrowding at that lot AND directing more cars to park at Wilkinsburg station will mean that there will be less room for affordable housing during and small business space in that station’s redevelopment.
- Although BRT plan includes a reduction of stops along Fifth and Forbes in Oakland, Uptown and Downtown, there will be some serious improvements to the amenities included at the new stations – like new shelters, benches, ticket vending machines, real-time arrival, will be included at the new “stations”. Some good news is that during the January 10 info session on this BRT service plan, PRT said that there would not be any stop consolidation on BRT routes East of Oakland. PPT has long called for Pittsburgh Regional Transit to have a clear process for demonstrating the benefit of reducing bus stops, and evaluating whether that benefit justifies any hardship it causes to riders with low-mobility who may have a difficult time reaching a farther stop. Riders should check out the BRT plans to see exactly which stops are being removed before giving comment.
Any change to our transit service will have big impacts for riders, and we encourage folks to speak up to share their feedback with PRT before the change. If you have any issues that you want PPT’s help with, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PRT lists four ways that people can give feedback on this service plan:
1) Written comments submitted online at www.rideprt.org/brtcomments
2) Written comment sent by U.S. mail or hand delivery to:
Pittsburgh Regional Transit
Attn: BRT Service Changes
Heinz 57 Center, 345 Sixth Avenue, Third Floor
Pittsburgh PA 15222
3) Oral comment by calling 412-566-5335 and leaving a message on a recorded line
4) Pittsburgh Regional Transit will also hold 3 public hearings on Wednesday, January 18th to receive oral public comment regarding these proposed major service changes. The first is from 10am-noon and the second is from 2pm to 4pm. These can be attended in-person or virtually. The third hearing is from 6pm to 8pm and can only be attended virtually. Please register for a time to provide oral public comment by filling out the form on this page or by calling 412-442-2000.