Longer walk to T frustrates some as 13 stops are cut
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Nick Salmen and his family rented an apartment in Beechview because it was close to the Traymore stop on Port Authority's Red Line. Having no car, they use the T to get around, sometimes riding up the line to the Hampshire stop in the neighborhood's business district.
Mr. Salmen reacted in disbelief this week upon learning that both stops are among 13 on the Light Rail Transit system that are being eliminated June 25.
"I can't believe they're shutting it down. That's crazy. That's going to make fun times for travel," he said as he wheeled a basket full of groceries along Broadway Avenue.
The Hampshire stop is being eliminated because it's a stone's throw from the Fallowfield stop. It takes 1 to 2 minutes to walk between the two. Still, with three children, ages 6 months, 2 and 7, "even 50 feet makes a difference," Mr. Salmen said.
As for Traymore, it is practically deserted, according to authority passenger counts. Fewer than 10 people board there on a typical day, authority spokesman Jim Ritchie said.
Four stops are being eliminated in Beechview, which has long been notorious among T riders for having multiple stops that are very close together.
Walking from the Boustead stop, which is slated for elimination, to the neighboring Belasco stop takes 2 minutes. But Peggy Sunder, whose house is just steps from Boustead, wasn't happy about it.
"I think it's a terrible idea," she said of the authority's goal of trying to make travel times faster. "Who cares if they're faster? It takes a minute to pick people up. They open the door, you get in, they close the door. I'll be rushing more [to get to the Belasco stop]. And we have enough rushing to do," she said.
At the soon-to-be-defunct Neeld stop, which is a 2-minute walk and within plain sight of neighboring Shiras stop, Alex Criego of Beechview said he understood the authority's reasoning.
"Some of them are too close together, which I always questioned," he said. "I don't see the inconvenience upon people."
University of Pittsburgh student Lory Almoakar, waiting at the same stop, was dismayed. She just took an apartment because it was close to the stop. She questioned whether the numerous stops were the reason for slow T service, pointing to breakdowns and traffic tie-ups as bigger factors.
"I'm going to have to walk a bit farther and it's going to be a bit more hilly," she said. "In the winter that will be terrible."
At Potomac in Dormont, about a five-minute walk from the soon-to-be-closed Kelton stop, rider Melissa Brown said she disliked the latest changes, as well as others in recent years that have reduced the frequency of service on the Red Line. "It's been running fine for years," she said. "It's that old saying: If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
The authority decided to eliminate the stops at the urging of Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, who has pushed to make T service more efficient, Mr. Ritchie said.
In a statement announcing the cuts, Mr. Fitzgerald said: "I understand that these stops were selected because the ridership was low and because there are alternative stops relatively close. While our bus lines have gone through numerous changes involving consolidations of routes and stops to improve efficiency and productivity, this is the first time that attention has been paid to the stops on the light rail system.
"These changes should result in transit trips that are not interrupted by unnecessary stops, which benefits both riders today and those who might consider using public transportation," he said.
Other stops being eliminated are Martin Villa and Smith Road in Castle Shannon; and Santa Barbara, Mine 3, Lindermer, Center, Latimer and Sandy Creek in Bethel Park.
Most of the stops have fewer than 100 boardings on a typical day. The Boustead stop has about 25; Mine 3 about 10; and Lindemer, Center and Latimer 25 or fewer, Mr. Ritchie said.
How much time the stop closures will save is unknown at this point, he said. The authority will monitor trip times before making any changes to schedules.
First Published June 10, 2012 12:00 am