Photo by Ryan Deto
Darnell Jones, of Groveton, speaks at a rally celebrating the renewed bus service to his community.
Bus riders from Baldwin, in the South Hills, and Groveton, in the West End, celebrated today Downtown as bus service returned to their communities.
”We got our bus,” Darnell Jones, of Groveton, cried out at the rally at Sixth Avenue and Wood Street. “We don’t have to walk two miles anymore.”
Jones rode the 20 bus route, which now extends out to Groveton, to Downtown with other community supporters and advocates from Pittsburghers for Public Transit (PPT).
The 44 route also extended its service into Baldwin and now reaches many stops throughout north Baldwin, eliminating the two-mile-plus walk many residents took to reach Brownsville Road.
“I would have to walk miles to catch the bus in Carrick, and then a lot of times, it would be [full] by then,” says Ray Mickiewicz, long-time Baldwin resident and former bus driver.
Both ceremonial rides on the 44 and the 20 were full on their respective journeys. “It was very exciting,” says Nick Coles, a volunteer with PPT who rode the 44 bus. “It was like a growing party, as we went along and more and more people kept hopping on the bus.”
PPT volunteer Laura Wiens spoke to the crowd of 30 about the fight to get service back. She says the advocacy group has been working with residents and Port Authority officials for over a year to reach the “transit deserts” of Baldwin and Groveton. In 2011, the 50 bus route was cut, leaving north Baldwin residents without a bus route for more than four years. (Since 2001, the Port Authority has cut more than 600 jobs and lost more than 130 bus routes.)
But with the passage of the 2013 state Act 89, a comprehensive transportation bill, and the success of the Allegheny County drink tax, the Port Authority is receiving a more steady revenue stream. In late June, it voted to extend routes to serve Baldwin and Groveton.
Wiens expressed jubilation over the extended routes but says the battle is not over and that PPT has new concerns with the Port Authority’s current proposal to raise fares.
“We are not going to stand for fare increases. We already have the second-highest fares in the country,” says Wiens.
Only New York City has higher bus and subways fares at $2.75. Port Authority fares are currently $2.50 for a one-way ride.