This month’s changes are less severe than the last two quarters (where service was cut more than 6%), so we’re grateful. However, we’re still operating with significantly less service than before the pandemic. Riders deserve an ambitous and transparent Operations Plan from PRT, so that they can know how, why, and when service will return.
Port Authority (now “Pittsburgh Regional Transit”) typically updates its service schedules 4 times every year. This was mostly suspended during the first year of the pandemic, but since 2021 they’ve been back to making these updates on a more regular schedule.
Unfortunately, 2022 has not been kind to our level of transit service. In March, Port Authority implemented a vaccine mandate that resulted in the elimination of nearly 100 highly-skilled transit workers. This mass firing was devastating for riders because our service saw huge spikes in out-of-service buses – up to 20% at times. PRT’s response to these astronomically high out-of-service rates was to cut back service a combined 6% in April and June (although by some measurements, these cuts may have been higher). We continue to call on PRT to reinstate all the workers who were fired and implement more strict masking and testing protocols for unvaccinated employees. PRT is short more than 200 transit workers. But with the number of worker retirements, that hole is only going to get deeper and mass rehiring is one of the only ways we can get our service back to more appropriate levels.
This quart’s changes weren’t as bad as April and June, but there are a number of examples of headways getting spread far beyond a level that is actually usable and reliable (like buses coming every hour and a half to every hour and 45 minutes in some cases). Also notable, for some reason, PRT’s descriptions of each route’s changes were much less detailed than they have been in the past – and some of PRT’s descriptions were just plain false. This is way less useful to riders, and the lack of transparency does not build trust with the agency. Why the change? It’s not for the better.
About this blog series with the @PGH_Bus_Info Hotline
PPT has been publishing this blog series on PRT’s quarterly service updates for the past few years. Our goal is to translate what these quarterly changes will mean for riders.
The @PGH_Bus_Info Hotline is a volunteer-run Twitter account that gives riders updates on Port Authority’s daily happenings. The Hotline has no official connection to the Port Authority (again, it is a volunteer-run Twitter account) but the updates they provide are helpful nonetheless. The Hotline is a big supporter of PPT and an enormous advocate for public transit. We’re thankful for their support and happy to collab on these rider resources. Follow @PGH_Bus_Info Hotline on Twitter for more grassroots transit updates.
About how to read this blog
We’re going to sort this long list of changes from Port Authority into three categories based on what they mean for riders;
- “The Good” = changes we like to see! Usually, improved or increased service that’s easier to use.
- “The Bad (The Missed Opportunities)” = are examples of service getting worse.
- “The middle of the road… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯” = changes that are neither good nor bad. Maybe a schedule shifts slightly, but riders won’t typically be able to tell the difference.
For each change, you’ll see the text and link that the Port Authority uses to describe each change, with a link to the new schedule. This is copy/pasted from PRT’s website…
- … then below this text, you’ll see this italicized text. This italicized portion are comments from the @PGH_Bus_Info Hotline and PPT on what these changes mean for riders and our system. You can check Port Authority’s website to follow these quarterly service changes.
Let’s get started.
Port Authority adjusts schedules four times a year. These changes are effective Sunday, September 4, 2022. Please look closely at the changes below, as service has been reduced on some routes based on current ridership, and to prevent some missed trips.
67-Monroeville – Some weekday trip times have changed. Two new trips have been added to the inbound weekday schedules, and the short outbound trips have been extended to Monroeville Mall.
- More service is a positive improvement for riders and businesses in Monroeville.
86-Liberty – Some weekday trip times have changed. New timetables have been prepared, and the 86-Liberty, 87-Friendship, and 88-Penn schedules have been combined.
- In combination, the changes to the 86, 87, 88 will make it easier to ride the bus. For some reason when schedules changed last quarter these three buses that service much of the East End were all scheduled to leave town at nearly the exact same time instead of being staggered throughout the hour. This meant that instead of a bus coming every 10-15 minutes, riders would have three buses at once and then need to wait for a half hour. It was a strange and unfortunate oversite, but it seems to be mostly improved in this quarter’s changes. Also, slightly unfortunate, but the 86 now ends a bit earlier on all nights.
87-Friendship – Some Sunday trip 0times have changed. New timetables have been prepared, and the 86-Liberty, 87-Friendship and 88-Penn schedules have been combined.
88-Penn – Some weekday and weekend trip times have changed. New timetables have been prepared, and the 86-Liberty, 87-Friendship and 88-Penn have been combined.
93-Lawrenceville-Hazelwood – Some weekend trip times have changed. Four weekday trips have been added. The stop at Fifth and Desoto has been temporarily moved due to construction work in the area, to Fifth at Thackeray.
- Great to see more weekday service added. But riders on the 93 really need more weekend service and a longer span of service. We hope to see this in future changes.
The bad (the missed opportunities)
6-Spring Hill – Some weekday and weekend trip times have changed.
- It varies by the day of the week, but buses start later every day of the week (from 15 minutes later to 1 hour later) and end earlier in the day (from 10 to 20 minutes earlier). This may add complication for riders who need transfers to or from other lines.
31-Bridgeville – Some weekend trip times have changed.
- PRT’s description is totally misleading. Turns out the weekday trips have changed too, and pretty significantly. Instead of every 30-minute headways, buses leave the East Busway outbound every 35-45 minutes instead of every 30 minutes. The weekend schedules haven’t changed all that much. Sunday trips operate 5-6 minutes earlier than the previous Sunday schedules.
G31-Bridgeville Flyer – Some weekday and weekend trip times have changed.
- 3 runs were cut during the weekday. Weekday times also start a half hour later and end a few minutes earlier. Saturday changes weren’t too bad – and it now runs later – that’s good. Sunday changes also aren’t significant – the entire schedule just shifted a few minutes earlier.
38-Green Tree – Some Sunday trip times have changed.
- Again, PRT’s description is misleading. Just like the 31, weekday headways have changed from 30 minutes to 35-45 minutes. For transparency and for service quality – this isn’t looking good. Weekday service ends 20 minutes earlier at night than the previous service.
53-Homestead Park – Some weekend trip times have changed.
- Saturday trips went from every hour to every hour and a half or even longer. The only small trade-off is Saturday runs slightly past midnight now
- Sunday has also been reduced to every 95 minutes but runs later till nearly 730 now.
57-Hazelwood – Some weekday and weekend trip times have changed. Weekend frequency is decreased. One inbound and one outbound trip have been removed.
- It goes without saying, but people are getting sick of seeing service decreases. PRT needs to address its worker shortage and bring back all the workers who were fired while implementing a more strict masking/testing program for unvaccinated people.
64-Lawrenceville-Waterfront – Some weekday and weekend trip times have changed.
- Service previously was split between E Liberty and West Mifflin bus garages now only Mifflin handles it as a result service starts 10-40 minutes later on all days and ends slightly earlier. Service frequency is also slightly reduced.
69-Trafford – Some weekend trip times have changed. Weekday outbound trips will only serve Haymaker Village once per trip.
- We’re unhappy to see these changes with Haymaker Village because it halves riders’ opportunities to access any businesses in that shopping center. Also disappointed to see that the Forbes Hospital extension continues to be a weekday-only service – people need to access hospitals on weekends too for work and for healthcare..
71-Edgewood Town Center – Some weekday trip times have changed.
- Service has been reduced from hourly to every 75 minutes and there’s now 1 less trip on weekdays which is sad to see
The middle of the road… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
1-Freeport Road – Some weekday and Saturday trip times have changed.
- Changes penalize operators by reducing their break times. Now the average break time is only 7-12 minutes (if the bus isn’t late, which on a route as long as the 1 is very unlikely).
4-Troy Hill – Some weekend trip times have changed.
7-Spring Garden – Some weekday trip times have changed.
14-Ohio Valley – Some weekday and weekend trip times have changed.
15-Charles – Some weekend trip times have changed.
26-Chartiers – Some Saturday trip times have changed.
28X-Airport Flyer – Some weekday and Saturday trip times have changed.
- Remember the “Airport Direct” trips that were introduced last Fall? They were trips that bypassed the Robinson loop to help deliver riders (and construction workers working on the new airport terminal) to the airport faster…. Well, these direct trips were short-lived. They were eliminated with this quarter’s changes. Womp womp.
51-Carrick – Some weekday trip times have changed.
- So much service on the 51, and so many riders. We didn’t look too closely, but start and end times haven’t changed and service is still plentiful.
53L-Homestead Park Limited – Some weekday trip times have changed.
55-Glassport – Some weekday and weekend trip times have changed.
- Weekend service reduced to every 70 minutes
60-McKeesport-Walnut – Some weekday and weekend trip times have changed.
61A-North Braddock – Some weekday and weekend trip times have changed to accommodate the Fern Hollow Bridge detour.
61B-Braddock Swissvale – Some weekday and weekend trip times have changed to accommodate the Fern Hollow Bridge detour.
71B- Highland Park – Some weekday and weekend trip times have changed.
74-Homewood Squirrel Hill – Trip times remain unchanged, however, the timetable has been combined with the schedule for the 89-Garfield.
75-Ellsworth – Some weekday and weekend trip times have changed.
79-East Hills – Some weekday and Saturday trip times have changed.
83-Bedford Hill – Some weekday trip times have changed.
89-Garfield Commons – Some weekday trip times have changed. New timetables have been prepared, and the 74-Homewood-Squirrel Hill schedules have been combined.
P1-East Busway-All Stops – Some weekday and weekend trip times have changed.
P2-East Busway Short – Some weekday trip times have changed.
P3-East Busway Oakland – Some weekday trip times have changed.
P68-Braddock Hills Flyer – Some weekday trip times have changed.
P71-Swissvale Flyer – Some weekday trip times have changed.
Y47 Curry Flyer -The last outbound trip has been adjusted by one minute.
Holiday Park VFD Park and Ride –The Holiday Park VFD Park and Ride, located at 415 Old Abers Creek Road in Plum, will be closed due to the expiration of contracts with property owners, low ridership and alternative nearby park and ride locations. Riders of the P12-Holiday Park Flyer can find alternative parking at Alpine Village Park and Ride, located at 1559 Golden Mile Highway in Monroeville or the Plum Park and Ride, located at 1860 Golden Mile Highway in Plum. The stop at Route 286 at Holiday Park VFD will continue to be served.
Knights of Columbus Park and Ride – The Knights of Columbus Park and Ride, located at 10 W. Crafton Ave., Pittsburgh, will be closed due to the expiration of contracts with property owners, low ridership and alternative nearby park and ride locations. Riders of the G2-West Busway-All Stops should use the Crafton Park and Ride, located at 27 Station St., Crafton.
If you have stories of bad transit service in the last few months, take a minute to share it with PPT and help advocate for change.
Stay tuned for the next set of quarterly changes, expected in November of 2022
As these changes roll-out, be sure to give your feedback & suggestions by reaching out to Port Authority Customer Service by phone or over twitter:
Port Authority Customer service phone number: 412-442-2000
Hours: Weekdays 5a to 7p, Weekend + Holidays 8a to 430p
And if you want to get in touch with the volunteer-run @PGH_Bus_Info Hotline, you can give them a call at 412-759-3335 ONLY When PortAuthority Customer Service is Closed/unavailable or via Twitter anytime @PGH_BUS_INFO
The PGH Bus Info Hotline will be back on PPT’s blog in for the next set of changes. See ya then.