Pittsburghers for Public Transit calls for inclusive community process for downtown transit planning

Pittsburghers for Public Transit have grave concerns about a recent Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story titled, “Proposal will make Downtown Pittsburgh core totally bus-free: Overcrowding at bus stops frustrates business owners.”  Precedence should not be given to the few businesses that have called for removal of bus stops in front of their establishments, when the greater good of the entire community should be our first public priority.

We urge our elected officials and policy planners to invite all major stakeholders to the planning table, including transit workers who have extensive experience and expertise to contribute and small business owners and riders that would be most affected by such rerouting, including the elderly, communities of people with disabilities and working people that do not have access to other forms of transportation.  Pittsburghers for Public Transit calls for a diligent public process and the inclusion of diverse communities from across Allegheny County in all studies, planning, and policy decisions for rerouting buses in Downtown Pittsburgh – the connective hub for public mass transit in the greater Pittsburgh region.

Our members, volunteers and allies express the following concerns:

Gina Mucciolo:  Regular Port Authority rider, graduate student in the Chatham School of Sustainability & the Environment 

Mass transit significantly relieves congestion and better supports economic development and foot traffic for businesses……simply eliminating buses while not addressing excessive automotive traffic and congestion patterns will only reinforce negative perceptions of the transit system.

ATU Local 85 President Steve Palonis

We’ve seen too many past attempts to validate such proposals with “outside consultants” in the name of “efficiency,” without consulting the highly trained drivers who know the operation of the system the best and with very bad practical results for riders. This time the planning and decisions should be made hand-in-hand with those who have the greatest first hand knowledge of Pittsburgh’s public transit. Taking public transit out of downtown would be like taking the “P” out of Pittsburgh.

Mel Packer, Coordinating Committee of Pittsburghers for Public Transit:

These kinds of changes started with the fancy shops at Fifth and Market upset about the young (and often mostly Black) bus riders waiting in front of their shops. And so the stop was eliminated…Is this the kind of “progressive” city that Fitzgerald and Peduto envision…one with the center filled with folks of disposable income, fancy shops, and the needs of service workers and other working people shunted aside? Such “progress” like the claimed “recovery” that is happening on Wall Street, would not NOT result in a more livable city for our diverse communities, but only in profit and comfort for an elite few.

Paul O’Hanlon, member of the Pittsburghers For Public Transit Coordinating Committee, member of the Committee for Accessible Transportation and Staff Attorney with the Disability Rights Network:

Public Transportation is for everyone.  That is our federal policy.  As such, any proposed changes must work for everyone, not only a few, not only the able-bodied.  A Downtown Circulator is an idea worth considering – in addition to our current Downtown service, not instead.  Terminating routes at the edge of Downtown would produce a needless delay for riders to wait for the Circulator bus – a delay that most able-bodied people would probably walk past, meaning that only those with mobility impairments would be inconvenienced by needing to make the connection Downtown.

To better enable all constructive planning and changes that we reach together as a diverse community, Pittsburghers for Public Transit urges all public transit supporters in Allegheny County to unite in calling on state legislators to vote for transportation legislation authorizing dedicated, sustainable funding for roads, bridges and public transit as vitally necessary public infrastructure for our communities, our environment, and the economy.

To support public transit, here’s what you can do: 

  • You can email your state legislators to support transit funding by using this quick-link which will look up your PA elected officials and send the email to them automatically. 
  • You can call your House representative – the House is scheduled to vote on Senate Bill 1 next week. Please let them know that the entire state budget primarily depends on the urban tax base – and public transit delivers hundreds of thousands of employees and customers to businesses in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia – all those taxes they earn and share pay for roads and bridges across the state!  
  • Very reasonable concerns have been expressed about the placement of bus shelters in Pittsburgh and we fully support our elected officials in gathering information for better planning in the future – by engaging the public to hear their feedback as well! You can help provide your input and experiences by filling out this survey.
  • You can sign this petition in support of the Transit Bill of Rights, which will also sign you up for news updates and action alerts in support of public transit. 
  • You can come to our general membership meeting on Saturday, October 26th, from 10-11:30am at One Smithfield in downtown Pittsburgh, in the Human Services building. Make your voices heard and help develop action plans to defend and support our public transit systems.