Giving up on light rail between Downtown and Oakland is a transit mistake

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I was dismayed by the logic used in the July 21 blog item by the PG’s Jon Schmitz (“Rail to Oakland Would Be Problematic”) to defend the Port Authority’s plans for Bus Rapid Transit over a light-rail connection between Downtown and Oakland.

Some of the reasons given for giving up on the light-rail option — noise, the sight of overhead wires and “rumble” — are, quite frankly, laughable for anyone who has visited European cities like Budapest and Prague where light-rail vehicles are an accepted, quaint and normal part of the cityscape and of city life in general.

Let’s not forget that Pittsburgh once had one of the largest streetcar systems in North America, with more than 68 lines that stretched from East Liberty to Washington, Pa. The Port Authority’s decision to pour concrete over old lines and convert them to buses is, in my opinion, one of the worst decisions made in this city’s history.

Pittsburgh’s buses are notoriously unreliable, pollute the air and riddle roads with potholes with their heavy weight. The idea that we should continue to support bus transit on an already overused transit corridor because local businesses wouldn’t like the idea of three years of construction is silly. Can we as Pittsburgh citizens really ask for better infrastructure if we’re not willing to bear the cost of improving it?

KRISTOF OLTVAI
Point Breeze

 


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