Hundreds of riders have spoken up about how service cuts to 61D, 71A, 71C, and 71D will harm access for tens of thousands of Pittsburgh residents – and they will continue to do so on 9/12 and 9/29.
On Tuesday, September 12th at the 5:30 pm virtual PRT meeting, dozens of transit riders will raise questions related to four PRT lines facing service cuts starting October 1, 2023. The new Downtown to Oakland Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project will provide worse access to transit for many thousands of riders, at a cost of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.
The 61D, 71A, 71C, and 71D are some of the top 10 highest-ridership routes in all Allegheny County
Ridership on lines facing service cuts are some of the highest amongst all PRT buses; in 2022, the average weekday ridership for the 61D, 71A, 71C, and 71D were 3,467, 3,366, 3,509, 2,659 riders respectively, with fewer than five routes in all of Allegheny County serving more daily riders.
The consequences of these cuts will be severe: for all riders making these particular trips, travel times will be longer. Disembarking and boarding a second bus can be very difficult for older adults and riders with mobility impairments, and because each bus can only accommodate 2 wheelchair users at a time, riders with disabilities are concerned about long waits for available buses. Moreover, cash-paying riders, who are disproportionately very low-income, will be obligated to pay double their fare to make the same trip, with poorer service.
With the 61D, 71A, 71C, and 71D short-turned in Oakland, riders will lose direct connections to Downtown and Uptown. Critical Uptown destinations like Mercy Hospital, Duquesne University, and PPG Paints Arena – where thousands of people travel for jobs, healthcare, higher education, and recreation daily – will no longer be directly accessible on these routes. Conversely, important destinations in the East End like Shadyside Hospital and fresh food access at the Waterfront will no longer be directly accessible for Uptown residents and Duquesne University students.
Riders have always been opposed to these changes – 640 lodged comments against them in January
Riders have long raised concerns about these proposed service changes. In January of this year, more than 640 comments were lodged in opposition to the cuts on the 71A, 71C and 71D during the BRT service public comment period.
Many more riders in this corridor are becoming aware of these cuts now, because PRT only recently posted about these cuts at bus stops on affected routes, with an imminent implementation date. PPT is disappointed that PRT is choosing to host a meeting that is only a “question and answer session” rather than soliciting public comment now that a broad swath of the affected constituency is becoming aware of the change.
PRT transit operators are deeply concerned about the proposed changes too.
PRT transit operators are deeply concerned about the proposed changes.
Over the last several years, tensions have increased substantially between riders and operators, and have resulted in an escalation in driver assaults. Operators have raised concerns about the logistics of turning around in Oakland, about passenger confusion, and the lack of communication from PRT about the changes to both riders and the workforce. Moreover, because nearly fifty percent of existing service is being cut in the Downtown to Oakland corridor, drivers also worry of overcrowding on 61 A, B and C buses that will continue driving the route, and on keeping their route schedules on time. As the main point of contact for transit riders about PRT, operators fear that rider frustration about these dramatic service changes will continue to be misdirected at them.
Riders are speaking out against these changes – Join transt advocates on 7/29 to rally against these cuts
At the September 12th info session, dozens of transit riders will be asking questions at PRT public hearing related to anticipated impacts of these service cuts to their transit trips. But riders’ organizing will not stop there! Pittsburghers for Public Transit and riders will follow up with a rally and PRT board testimony about the impacts of these changes at 8:30 am on September 29th at 6th and Wood St Downtown. We are encouraging all riders who are impacted by these changes join us at the Board Meeting to speak up for more service, not less.