The East Busway is Being Extended to Monroeville – Now Lets Keep Organizing

image description: photo from PPT’s Beyond the East Busway Organizing Fellowship in 2018 that engaged more than 600 residents in the Mon Valley and Eastern Suburbs and identified 3 priority corridors to extend the East Busway.

New $142.3 million grant marks the next phase in residents’ successful campaign to extend the East Busway

Transit riders, residents, businesses, and elected officials in the Mon Valley and Eastern Suburbs have been working hard to extend the East Busway’s benefits into their communities. After years of organizing to uplift the demand for better transit, we are celebrating the U.S. Department of Transportation grant announced last week that will fund an extension of the East Busway to Monroeville, improve sidewalks and pedestrian connections around Monroeville bus stops, and fund some important maintenance on the existing East Busway. 

The total USDOT grant will bring $142.3 million to transportation improvements through the Eastern corridor of Allegheny County. $50+ million of the grant will go towards the East Busway extension and transit improvements. $48.5 million will go towards installing variable speed limit signs along 376 that are expected to ease congestion and reduce crashes near the Squirrel Hill Tunnel. And $39 million will be spent to fix flooding on the portions of 376 near the Mon Warf in Downtown affectionately known as “the bathtub”. 

PPT has been organizing for extensions to the East Busway with transit riders in the Mon Valley and Eastern Suburbs for years. We celebrate this win.

The East Busway is our transit system’s highest-performing asset, caring for tens of thousands of riders each day and our members have known that it needs to be a spine of transit improvement in our system. Our members have long been organizing for both extensions of the busway and improvements to existing sections, as well as equitable development and affordable housing near East Busway stations.

In 2018, PPT hired 16 community leaders from the Mon Valley to survey nearly 600 residents on our Beyond the East Busway campaign to identify key destinations that should be better served by transit, and to make recommendations about which alignment of an East Busway extension would best meet transit rider needs. 

PPT organizing fellows surveyed a broad range of people living and working in the Mon Valley, including parents, single mothers, older adults, people with disabilities and students. Pittsburgh Regional Transit ’s decision to focus on this corridor in their long range NEXTransit Plan (Corridor E) and for this FTA planning grant reflects vocal transit rider advocacy and explicit support by the elected leadership in Rankin, Braddock, and East Pittsburgh in the grant application process.

This investment is long overdue. 

There is an extremely high and growing percentage of transit commuters in this region. In fact, four of the municipalities with the highest transit usage in all of Pennsylvania are within these corridors: #3 is Rankin (35.5%), #5 is East Pittsburgh (31.6%), #8 is Swissvale (24.9%), and #10 is Braddock (24.4%). 

In addition, five of the ten routes with the highest ridership increases for Port Authority from FY2019 to FY2020 were in the Mon Valley and Eastern Suburbs (P68 Braddock Hills Flyer, 52L Homeville Limited, 69 Trafford, P67 Monroeville Flyer and 55 Glassport), demonstrating that even during a pandemic, transit is a critical lifeline for riders of these routes. 

Despite this, transit access is poor for most of these communities: from Braddock to downtown, a bus trip averages 60 minutes even when using the high speed Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway. Due to cumbersome last-mile challenges, a passenger may spend 20 minutes using the busway, but must travel an additional 40 minutes before they enter the borough. A car trip, by contrast, takes 20 minutes from start to finish.

Sign on to ensure that all three of the Mon Valley and Eastern Suburb transit corridor improvements come to fruition! 

We are calling for the full implementation of bus rapid transit corridors, in line with Pittsburgh Regional Transit’s NEXTransit plan, along the 376 East to Monroeville, from Rankin to Braddock up to Monroeville, and along the full 61C corridor from Homestead to McKeesport: