Residents speak to Port Authority Board about getting service to transit deserts

On Feb 27, residents from Moon and Robinson delivered public comments about the need for transit in their communities.

Here are Groveton Village residents after addressing the board. They currently face a cold 1.5 mile walk to the bus in Coraopolis:

Rebecca Kiernan, Sustainability Coordinator for the Township of Moon, also addressed the board with the following comments:

Moon is located 17 miles west of Pittsburgh off I-376. A typical suburban community, the Township developed with the automobile in mind; neighborhoods of cul-de-sacs make for a lack of connectivity, sidewalks are sporadic, and stores and amenities are not in residential zones.

In the Mooncrest community of Moon, the loss of transit service has had devastating effects for the geographically isolated and predominantly low-income neighborhood. When buses were cut in 2011, residents lost mobility and employment. Residents without vehicles walk two miles to the closest bus stop and three miles to the closest grocery store- down a steep hill and along a busy, dangerous four lane road as seen in photos below.

Roughly 20% of residents in the Township are over the age of 60, and planning for the aging population is a major theme in the Township’s proposed Comprehensive Plan. Seniors who want to age in place, and no longer drive are severely limited in access to basic resources. The Moon Area Senior Citizens Association regularly battles lack of transit in their meetings.

Robert Morris University, which has expanded its campus and enrollment has difficulty attracting commuting students. Students who live on campus have limited mobility to leave campus to explore and participate in internships and opportunities throughout the Township and the region. RMU representatives are both supportive and fully active in the Township’s efforts to enhance mobility, and participate in existing bike/ped, public transit and economic development committees.

Commuters to Moon such as myself, total more than 21,000 per day, heading to large companies like FedEx and Eaton, located in Moon’s business parks. The sheer amount of commuters redefines the lack of public transit to and around Moon as a regional issue. The University Boulevard Park-and-Ride is located half a mile from Airside Business Park, which houses Michael Baker Int’l. and other major offices, employing a substantial portion of the commuters- this stop is also one mile from RMU. The stop serves the G3 Moon Flyer, which takes people from Moon to Downtown on weekday mornings, returning empty between trips because there is not a return trip option from Downtown to Moon- it does the reverse in the afternoon. I pass the G3 daily on my way to and from work- completely empty because there is no reverse commute line.

Public transportation would reduce the more than 18,000 single occupancy vehicles commuting to Moon, easing traffic, improving regional air quality and reducing carbon emissions. Traffic on I-376 West is nearly, if not as bad as, inbound traffic to the City. Easier commutes would prevent suburban sprawl and reduce blight in the City as commuters wouldn’t need to move to the suburbs for work.

While it does not address the needs of most Township residents, opening the doors to the G3 Moon Flyer and allowing ridership on the existing trip of the reverse commute seems like an easy tweak in service that would have great regional benefits.

As Moon strives to improve its livability, we know that the Port Authority is a crucial player in enhancing mobility.