New shuttles tested for Saturday's St. Patrick's Day events

City hopes to ease congestion during festivities

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South Side officials will use Saturday's St. Patrick's Day festivities to test a shuttle service and taxi stands designed to ease congestion on one of the busiest days of the year.

The shuttle to and from more than 800 parking spots in the Second Avenue lot is one of many steps Pittsburgh is taking to accommodate and maintain civility among a crowd expected to push 200,000, depending on the weather. Official activities begin with the country's second-largest parade, which steps off at 10 a.m. at the Greyhound bus station at Liberty Avenue and Grant Street and is expected to last at least three hours, altering dozens of Port Authority bus routes.

But the celebration is expected to last throughout the day.

On the South Side, Pittsburgh's Sociable City Plan is teaming with the Responsible Hospitality Institute to encourage visitors and workers to use off-site parking. Shuttle buses will operate every 15 minutes from noon Saturday to 4 a.m. Sunday between a parking lot on Second Avenue, Downtown, and 10 stops on the South Side, ending at SouthSide Works.

The St. Patrick's celebration is being used as a test to determine whether off-site parking would be one way of dealing with continuing parking problems in the neighborhood. Residents have established permit parking in several areas, limiting the available spaces for workers and customers visiting bars and restaurants.

In addition to the shuttle service -- which will be free Saturday -- taxi stands will be set up at five locations.

"The more people use the parking/shuttle and the taxi stands, the more likely they will have safer and more efficient nighttime transportation," said Jim Peters, president of the hospitality institute.

The California-based institute is working with the city to help residents and businesses coexist peacefully, beginning with the South Side. Institute officials will meet with South Side businesses and residents next week to assess the shuttle service and decide whether to continue it in the future.

The usual St. Patrick's Day controls and restrictions will be in place Saturday: fencing around Market Square, Downtown, to limit access to those 21 and older; no on-street consumption of alcohol in other areas; extra police, building inspection, EMS, fire department and public works employees; and Liquor Code Enforcement officers to check identifications and enforce other liquor laws.

The parade will follow the same route as last year, beginning at Grant and Liberty, proceeding down Grant to the Boulevard of the Allies, where it will turn right and proceed to the end at Commonwealth Place.

As a result of the parade, the Port Authority will alter dozens of routes.

Detours for buses serving the Strip District will begin at 7:30 a.m. while other detours start about 9 a.m.

Once the parade starts, South Side/South Hills bus routes will end at Station Square, where riders can transfer for free to the T to ride Downtown.

Second Avenue bus service will terminate at the First Avenue T station and Oakland/Hill District/Penn Hills routes will end at Fifth and Sixth avenues, near the rear of the Steel Plaza T station.

Those detours are expected to last until about 2 p.m.

P1 East Busway-All Stops riders must pick up their route at Penn Station during the parade.

Also, the 28X Airport Flyer will end at Station Square during the parade. Riders on the 28X can take the T to Downtown for free, or those who are Downtown can take the T to Station Square to catch the bus.

neigh_city - Transportation - holidays

Ed Blazina: eblazina@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1470.


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