Victory for the P3! How Riders Won

image description: square image of a sign that riders posted on a blue light post at Hamnett Station which has been altered to say “P3 Service Continued!!! Route OPEN! Pittsburgh Regional Transit proposed maintaining P3 stops at Hamnett, Roslyn, and Swissvale”.

When we fight, we win! Riders spoke up, organized, and were successful in maintaining (and expanding the span of) service on the P3!

Riders celebrated victory this week when it was announced that the new BRT plan would maintain P3 service to Hamnett, Roslyn and Swissvale stations on the East Busway!

The beginning of 2023 saw a flurry of organizing as the public comment period for the proposed BRT Service Plan came to a close. The proposed plan would have terminated the P3 at Wilkinsburg Station and eliminated the fastest, direct connection to jobs, schools and resources in Oakland to anyone that caught the bus from Hamnett, Roslyn or Swissvale Stations.

“For myself and many other care workers who work demanding schedules and have to leave the house very early and come home very late, asking us to take two buses is both not equitable and also not very realistic,”  said PPT Member Amalia Tonsor while speaking to the Pitt News

Other riders agreed. Before long, riders made their own flyers and posted them at the East Busway stops that were to be eliminated. Flyers had information about the changes that included web links, QR codes, and information about how riders could submit their own public comments. Riders organized canvass days where they went out and spoke to their peers at stops to spread the word about the changes.

But riders didn’t stop there! By the middle of January, almost all local media outlets were covering the story. A big shout out to PPT Members Amalia, Pearl and Nicole for speaking up and using the airwaves to spread the word about the changes and how people could make their voices heard. They were able to get their story out to 6 different news outlets – TV, print, online, and radio – reaching tens of thousands of riders and residents throughout our region.

  1. Chris Hoffman’s report for KDKA: Pittsburgh Regional Transit continues plans for bus rapid transit project
  2. Julia Zenkovich’s report for WESA: Pittsburgh Regional Transit seeks public comments on proposed Bus Rapid Transit changes
  3. Jack Troy’s report for the Pitt News: PRT preps for Bus Rapid Transit with changes to Oakland routes
  4. Ed Blazina’s report for the Union Progress: Some East Busway riders worried about routing changes: The story of the P3
  5. Ann Belser’s report for NextPittsburgh: Pittsburgh Regional Transit accepting comments on route changes through Feb. 1
  6. Talia Kirkland’s report for WPXI: Pittsburgh Regional Transit’s plan to implement rapid transit could affect existing routes

All of this organizing worked. After the comment period closed, PRT reported that they received over 700 comments through their process – 542 of which spoke up against the proposed changes to the P3! By the time the February 16th PRT Board Planning and Stakeholders Committee came around, the head of PRT’s Planning reported that they would hold-off on the changes until they had more data on how the changes would impact service in the system.

Great job to everyone who took the time to share about the importance of how transit impacts and benefits our communities! We have the right to shape our transit system so that it serves us best.

We applaud PRT for listening to what riders have to say, and want to give credit (and a some feedback) where it’s due.

We have to give credit to PRT for creating a robust public process around this particular proposal. They put a ton of information and justification for why they were making specific proposals on their website – this was great. PRT started the public process with an info session where they gave an overview of the changes being proposed, then followed up with in-person and virtual public meetings for people to give feedback. They had their public comment period open for a full month and a half, from December 15th to Feb 1st. And thumbs up for allowing people to give comments by calling Customer Service AND for setting up a voicemail where people could just call and leave a recording of their comment. 

As far as feedback: We wish that there was a centralized place on PRT’s website where riders could see all public meetings and all opportunities to give public comment on a single page. Currently, only PRT Board-related meetings are on the “Public Meetings” page (and PRT Board meetings are notoriously inaccessible and unresponsive spaces for riders to engage in constructive feedback). It was confusing to find the BRT project from the PRT homepage, and to navigate between the sites with information about the project and proposed service changes, the website that took service-related feedback, and the sites that shared the BRT public meeting schedule and registration. Frankly, it continues to be confusing to find info on other major projects as well. Members of the public have to navigate through NEXTransit on the project page to find info about some major projects, like the Downtown Network Redesign, but others like the BRT are curiously omitted. We appreciate that there was more than a month to give feedback on the BRT service changes, but hope that PRT would consider the impact of major holiday periods on the likelihood of robust public engagement.

All that said, we want to thank PRT for listening to riders. The agency could have gotten all that feedback and still ignored it but they didn’t. We are are offering this constructive feedback because we know that more transparency from PRT yields more engagement and the education of riders, which also increases rider input and trust in our public transit system. Pittsburgh Regional Transit belongs to the system’s riders and workers who use it everyday, so let’s continue to ensure that they are empowered to shape it.