A Bus Free Downtown?

Streetsblog reports that future Pittsburgh Mayor and smart growth champion Bill Peduto is backing an idea to remove buses entirely from Downtown Pittsburgh. As Streetsblog points out the rationale is to make Pittsburgh more pedestrian friendly and car-free. But this raises concerns around downtown interests wanting to shove often times lower-income transit riders outside of the downtown. Additionally, what would the impacts of this move be for mobility limited riders. A three block walk may not be a big deal for a 25 year old in July, but an 80 year old in December?

Scott Bogren from the Commuter Transit Association points out ontwitter, “The 38% mode share for transit makes this a dubious idea. Bus-only lanes/roads a much better concept.”

Below is a full release on the issue from our friends at Pittsburghers for Public Transit. Oh yeah, in the midst of all of this the PA legislature is sitting on its hands on transit funding, which could lead to massive service cuts in Philly and Pittsburgh.

Let’s focus on the addressing the current transit crises and not making new ones! If you live in Pennsylvania CLICK HERE to send a letter to legislator telling them to take action on a transportation/transit funding bill



Pittsburghers for Public Transit have grave concerns about a recent Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story titled, “Proposal will make Downtown Pittsburgh core totally bus-free: Overcrowding at bus stops frustrates business owners.”  Precedence should not be given to the few businesses that have called for removal of bus stops in front of their establishments, when the greater good of the entire community should be our first public priority.
We urge our elected officials and policy planners to invite all major stakeholders to the planning table, including transit workers who have extensive experience and expertise to contribute and small business owners and riders that would be most affected by such rerouting, including the elderly, communities of people with disabilities and working people that do not have access to other forms of transportation.  Pittsburghers for Public Transit calls for a diligent public process and the inclusion of diverse communities from across Allegheny County in all studies, planning, and policy decisions for rerouting buses in Downtown Pittsburgh – the connective hub for public mass transit in the greater Pittsburgh region.

Our members, volunteers and allies express the following concerns:

Gina Mucciolo:  Regular Port Authority rider, graduate student in the Chatham School of Sustainability & the Environment

Mass transit significantly relieves congestion and better supports economic development and foot traffic for businesses……simply eliminating buses while not addressing excessive automotive traffic and congestion patterns will only reinforce negative perceptions of the transit system.

ATU Local 85 President Steve Palonis

We’ve seen too many past attempts to validate such proposals with “outside consultants” in the name of “efficiency,” without consulting the highly trained drivers who know the operation of the system the best and with very bad practical results for riders. This time the planning and decisions should be made hand-in-hand with those who have the greatest first hand knowledge of Pittsburgh’s public transit. Taking public transit out of downtown, would be like taking the “P” out of Pittsburgh.

Mel Packer, Coordinating Committee of Pittsburghers for Public Transit:

These kinds of changes started with the fancy shops at Fifth and Market upset about the young (and often mostly Black) bus riders waiting in front of their shops. And so the stop was eliminated…Is this the kind of “progressive” city that Fitzgerald and Peduto envision…one with the center filled with folks of disposable income, fancy shops, and the needs of service workers and other working people shunted aside?Such “progress” like the claimed “recovery” that is happening on Wall Street, would not NOT result in a more livable city for our diverse communities, but only in profit and comfort for an elite few.
Paul O’Hanlon, member of the Pittsburghers For Public Transit Coordinating Committee, member of the Committee for Accessible Transportation and Staff Attorney with the Disability Rights Network:

Public Transportation is for everyone.  That is our federal policy.  As such, any proposed changes must work for everyone, not only a few, not only the able-bodied.  A Downtown Circulator is an idea worth considering – in addition to our current Downtown service, not instead.  Terminating routes at the edge of Downtown would produce a needless delay for riders to wait for the Circulator bus – a delay that most able-bodied people would probably walk past, meaning that only those with mobility impairments would be inconvenienced by needing to make the connection Downtown.

To better enable all constructive planning and changes that we reach together as a diverse community, Pittsburghers for Public Transit urges all public transit supporters in Allegheny County to unite in calling on state legislators to vote for transportation legislation authorizing dedicated, sustainable funding for roads, bridges and public transit as vitally necessary public infrastructure for our communities, our environment, and the economy.

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