How would a Bus Rapid Transit project benefit Pittsburgh region?
March 9, 2017 11:16 PM
Artist rendering showing how the planned BRT system might run through Uptown.
By Ed Blazina / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and the Port Authority announced Thursday they expect to apply within the next six months for funding for a Bus Rapid Transit system between Downtown and Oakland. The system is expected to cost $200 million to $240 million depending on the options chosen. The expectation is to have the system of street-level electric vehicles on the road by 2021.
Here are some facts about what the project will feature and how it will benefit the region:
• Vehicles powered by electricity will carry passengers between Downtown and Oakland using dedicated lanes with options to extend the system to Highland Park, Wilkinsburg and Squirrel Hill on existing streets.
• Vehicles will be about the size of an articulated bus, which can carry about 100 passengers, and leave every 3 to 5 minutes in peak times.
• Travel between Downtown and Oakland will be reduced for transit vehicles from 18 to 25 minutes to about 10 minutes.
• Transit vehicles will travel inbound from Oakland using Fifth Avenue to Liberty Avenue, Downtown, and outbound using Sixth Avenue to Forbes Avenue.
• There are two options for transit through Oakland: outbound on Forbes Avenue and inbound on Fifth Avenue with bike lanes on the existing outbound bus lane on Fifth; or inbound and outbound transit vehicles on Fifth Avenue with bike lanes on Forbes.
• Stations will be placed about every third of a mile, with five expected in the Downtown area.
• Stations will be full-service plazas with facilities to pay fares and buy pre-paid ConnectCards or day passes. They will be placed for easy connections with other transportation such as buses or the T system with a major station expected at the intersection of Wood Street and Liberty Avenue.
• Existing bus routes like the 61 and 71 series that now run through Oakland to Downtown would end in Oakland and passengers would transfer to electric vehicles.
• The service plan includes four options: stopping at Bellefield Avenue in Oakland; adding a branch to the Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway to extend service to Wilkinsburg; adding the busway plus a branch to Squirrel Hill; and adding the busway plus branches to Squirrel Hill and Highland Park.
• The exact number of electric vehicles hasn’t been determined but the proposal includes adding battery charging stations at authority garages and at stations where they can add power while picking up passengers.
• If the system is extended beyond Oakland, that service may be provided with regular diesel buses because of the lack of full-service stations with charging facilities.
• Port Authority will begin holding meetings with community groups to get feedback on what service options riders prefer and whether to use Fifth Avenue for inbound and outbound transit vehicles or have outbound use Forbes.
• An open house for the general public will be held at Alumni Hall in Oakland on April 5, followed by more workshops in the summer before an application for funding is filed with the Federal Transit Administration in September.
Ed Blazina: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1470.
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