Photo courtesy of Nica Ross
Example of postcard asking to maintain route 61 bus service
Last week, about 100 residents met at the Braddock Carnegie Library in Braddock to sign postcards asking the Port Authority of Allegheny County to consider their public-transit needs when considering changes that will likely come with the proposed implementation of a Pittsburgh Bus Rapid Transit system.
The BRT, which some have called light rail on rubber wheels, will make big changes to infrastructure along Fifth and Forbes avenues between Oakland and Downtown. The project will include installation of bus-only lanes, new stations with modern shelters, bike lanes, and will shorten bus-travel times. But, as City Paper
reported in April, it could also change the bus rides of at least 1,500 riders
from areas like Swissvale, Braddock, Duquesne and McKeesport. The number 61 bus routes, which currently start in McKeesport and Braddock and travel towards Downtown through Oakland, will be altered thanks to the BRT and their future of the 61 routes is up in the air.
Under current BRT proposals, the 61 routes will become feeder routes to the BRT and will stop in Oakland, instead of continuing on their usual route to Downtown. This means route-61 riders will need to transfer in Oakland to get all the way Downtown.
Advocates who attended the Dec. 19 postcard signing event in Braddock are worried the changes will lead to steep decreases in bus frequency for Mon Valley communities, as well as the potential of making route 61 riders pay for a transfer that they normally didn’t have to pay for. Nica Ross, a route 61 rider from Braddock, wrote in an email to CP
that the proposed changes “would have enormous impacts on Mon Valley residents' access to food, employment, childcare, healthcare and community.”
To address these potential issues, the residents signed postcards asking the Port Authority
to ensure that service reductions wont occur and transfers will be made free for route-61 riders. Ross also told CP
that residents at the event said they would like to see the Port Authority consider using capital funds towards expanding the East Busway into Braddock and Monroeville, instead applying its funds to the BRT.
The Port Authority has shown a willingness to listen to these issues. In October, the authority held a couple community meetings in Mon Valley towns to listen to bus riders concerns. And the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
reported in October that “although the agency hasn’t announced a formal policy yet on the cost of transfers, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald has said at public meetings that the transfers would be free.”
Port Authority has yet to make any final decisions on how the BRT will impact routes connecting to the Mon Valley. Port Authority spokesperson Adam Brandolph told the P-G
in October that the authority is “still looking at all of the options available.”
The postcards will be delivered to Port Authority board members when they resume meeting in January 2018.