PPT position on Bus Rapid Transit proposal

Media Release: Position on Bus Rapid Transit, April 5, 2017

Pittsburghers for Public Transit sees opportunities with the Bus Rapid Transit project proposal, but we also have many concerns and unanswered questions—about both the project and the public process.

60,000 transit riders are in the corridor between Downtown, Uptown, Oakland, and beyond each day. There is no question that infrastructure and service changes could benefit a lot of riders, but there are also some riders who could be negatively impacted. And there are some questions about if this project is where we should prioritize transportation investments. From the information we have right now, we acknowledge the following opportunities:

  • Dedicated bus lanes
  • Traffic signal prioritization for buses
  • Faster rides on some routes
  • Improved bus stations
  • Improved pedestrian access
  • Electric vehicles
  • Bike lanes

However, we are also very concerned about the following:

  • Required transfers (between 3,000 and 7,000)
  • Increased costs, especially if transfers are not free
  • Changes to local service, including less frequency
  • Fewer drop-off points for Access vehicles
  • Elimination of stops, which affects people with mobility challenges
  • Impacts of development; need upfront commitment there will be no displacement and adequate affordable housing as part of any development

While we acknowledge the value of the many presentations given to community groups in the past couple weeks, we have not seen adequate outreach among the most affected riders, namely those whose local service would change and those who would now require transfers. In the process of selecting a “locally preferred alternative” riders need to know the precise impact each option would have on their commutes. The City and Port Authority are asking for feedback on the 4 different options without laying out the impact on the local routes for each option. For example, if a rider currently takes a 61A into town from Braddock, how exactly would their commute be different?  Riders are also given 4 choices for service, but where is the room for other options the community might want?

After talking to a few hundred riders at bus stops downtown recently, we were surprised at how few of those who ride the 61s and 71s had heard anything about the Bus Rapid Transit project. We think the agency could do a better job getting the word out to riders, and we encourage riders to make sure their voices are heard, by taking the survey at www.portauthority.org or sending their comments to brt@portauthority.org. Riders can also attend the public meeting Wed April 5th in Oakland at Alumni Hall, 4227 Fifth Ave, 12-2 pm, and 4-7 pm