After a snowy week in which transit schedules seemed to change by the minute, the last thing Port Authority riders might want to contemplate is more changes.
But with a major service overhaul set to begin April 4, affecting about a third of the authority's bus and trolley routes and a quarter of its riders, the agency today is rolling out the first stage of a program designed to eliminate any surprises when the changes occur.
The authority's website, www.portauthority.org, will have several tools to give riders in-depth information about the changes, including maps and schedules, and the chance to ask questions.
"I know I'll be getting calls on April 4 asking 'Why didn't anybody ever tell me about this?' " said Steve Bland, Port Authority CEO. "This is our best effort to let everyone know."
Starting around noon today, the authority's home page will have a clickable banner as the gateway to information about upcoming changes, affecting about 60 routes. The systemwide overhaul will be done in seven steps over a span of two years, Mr. Bland said.
Visitors to the site can click on their route and see a brief description of the changes, a map of the new route, the route's new number and a schedule. There also will be a compilation of frequently asked questions and a method for submitting questions by e-mail. "This will allow [riders] to start figuring out how they're going to use the system come April 4," said public relations director Jim Ritchie.
Printed schedules will be available in another week or so, he said.
In coming weeks, staffers will be visiting heavily used bus stops on affected routes to distribute information about the changes.
"There's a relatively large and increasing segment of the population that goes to these [online] sources first," Mr. Bland said. "We also recognize that a large number of riders want that piece of paper in their hands or that customer service representative on the phone."
The authority board approved the service overhaul, intended not to reduce service but make it more efficient and cost-effective, in October. It will ultimately affect virtually every rider.
While the overall number of routes will decrease, authority officials have said that most riders will get faster and more frequent trips and service earlier and later in the day.
Routes will be renamed, with many changed from a number-letter format (like 36A) to just a number. Light Rail Transit routes will shed their numerical designations in favor of colors. The 42C and 42S will become the Red Line; 47L and 47S the Blue Line; and 52 the Brown Line.
A portion of the plan calling for a reduction in the number of stops will be implemented later.
These routes will be discontinued on April 4 (in many cases, other routes will be available nearby): 3L Creighton-Lower Burrell Express; 3M Tarentum Natrona Express; 24A Crafton-Presston; 33F McDonald; 44D Jefferson; 44E Inglewood; 44F Terrace; 55D West Run-Brierly Lane; 55E Whitaker-West Mifflin; 58P Port Vue-Liberty Express; 58V Versailles Express.
Also, 59U SouthSide Works-Oakland-Waterfront; 60S Crawford Village-Jenny Lind; 61F Homestead Park; 69A Forbes; 75D Penn Hills-Monroeville; 77C Shadyside; 78C Shadyside Express; 93A Aspinwall-Cheswick Express; AVN Allegheny Valley North Flyer; CO Coraopolis Flyer; OV Ohio Valley Flyer; and T Trafford Flyer.
The 28X Airport Express will begin direct operation between Oakland, Downtown and Pittsburgh International, without the detour into Robinson Town Centre. A new G2 West Busway-Oakland route will serve the shopping district.
A new route, 75 Ellsworth, will operate from East Liberty to the SouthSide Works, via Shadyside and Oakland.
Other routes changing on April 4 (with new route name or other changes in parentheses):
1A (becomes 1 Freeport Road); 5A (becomes 5 Natrona); 16A (becomes 14 Ohio Valley); 16B (16 Brighton); 16D (18 Manchester); 21A (21 Coraopolis); 21B (20 Kennedy); 21C and 21D (24 West Park); 21F (22 McCoy); 28M (32 Campbells Run); 28X (begins direct Oakland-Downtown-airport service, to be renamed later); 33X (G1 West Busway-All Stops); 42C (Red Line -- Overbrook Junction via Beechview); 42S (Red Line -- South Hills Village via Beechview); 47L (Blue Line -- Library); 47S (Blue Line -- South Hills Village via Overbrook); 52 (Brown Line).
58C (P7 McKeesport Flyer); 59A (59 Mon Valley); 60A and 60K (60 Walnut-Crawford Village); 60B and 60E (61 White Oak); 60M and 60P (62 Liberty-North Versailles); 61A, B, C (increased service and better trip timing, to be renamed later); 61D (61D Murray with seven-day Waterfront service, to be renamed again later); 64A (64 Lawrenceville-Waterfront); 71C (route reduced because of new 75 Ellsworth route); 100 (G2 West Busway-Oakland); AV (P10 Allegheny Valley Flyer); B (19L Emsworth Limited); D (P11 Middle Road Flyer).
Jon Schmitz: email@example.com or 412-263-1868.