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Transit

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Bike-advocacy group encourages Pittsburghers to ride bikes to work on Friday

Posted By on Wed, May 17, 2017 at 4:58 PM

PHOTO COURTESY OF BIKE PITTSBURGH
  • Photo courtesy of Bike Pittsburgh
Cyclists in and around the city must feel a little vindicated. In a Pittsburgh mayoral race in which candidates blamed bike lanes (which account for a minuscule fraction of the city budget) for the city’s lead-water-pipe problems, public-safety issues, and a shortage of affordable housing, the one candidate who was pro-bike-lane, Mayor Bill Peduto, emerged victorious, with about 69 percent of the vote.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Bike-advocacy group survey says cyclists support driverless-car testing in Pittsburgh

Posted By on Wed, Mar 22, 2017 at 12:13 PM

IMAGE COURTESY OF BIKE PITTSBURGH
  • Image courtesy of Bike Pittsburgh
Predicting how drivers are going to interact with cyclists on Pittsburgh roads is a fool’s game. Some drivers will slow down, provide the legally required four feet and pass cyclists without incident. Others will honk at cyclists and scream at them to get off the road, or even act negligent and crash into cyclists. It's all part of a normal commute for urban cyclists.

Because of this unpredictability, it's not all that surprising that Pittsburgh cyclists would support taking the human element out of driving, and data recently released by Bike Pittsburgh proves it. The bike- and pedestrian-advocacy organization released a survey on March 21, showing that only about 10 percent of Bike Pittsburgh members with and without experience sharing the road with driverless cars disapprove of Pittsburgh as a testing-ground for autonomous vehicles. Moreover, about 75 percent of Bike Pittsburgh members actually approve or somewhat approve of driverless-car testing in Pittsburgh. (Somewhat ironically, a recent survey of Americans with AAA coverage showed that 75 percent of drivers were afraid of fully autonomous vehicles.)

In September 2016, Uber debuted its semi-autonomous vehicles in a highly publicized event. Since then, semi-autonomous Volvo SUVs and Ford sedans have been navigating select Pittsburgh neighborhoods, with a driver ready to take over and a technician monitoring the driverless components.

The survey compiled responses from 321 Bike Pittsburgh members and about 800 non-members. About 40 percent of members said they have interacted with a driverless car either on bike or on foot (non-members have interacted with AVs slightly less on bike, but slightly more on foot).

“While our own personal experiences riding and walking alongside AVs have been mostly positive, we believe that the introduction of these vehicles to our streets deserves a larger conversation,” said Eric Boerer, BikePGH Advocacy Director, in a press release. “As far as we know, we are the first organization collecting these stories from bicyclists and pedestrians.”

Both members and non-members also said they felt safer when interacting with an autonomous vehicle, rather than with a car controlled by a driver, even if there were still some uneasiness. "People noted the lack of road rage and aggression toward them as opposed to human drivers," said the study. "However, many were not comfortable with the dehumanization of the interaction even if it ended up being safe."

But not all reports were positive, according to the press release. While most bike-riding respondents noted driverless cars gave four feet while passing, several people cited times AVs passed them only giving a few inches. Additionally, some walking survey respondents noted driverless cars didn't stop for them while waiting to cross the street, and one respondent witnessed an AV running a red light. (It should be noted that Recode recently published a story showing that while Pittsburgh has become the epicenter of semi-autonomous vehicle testing in the U.S., the driverless cars only travel an average of 0.8 miles before human drivers have to intervene.)

Regardless, respondents of the survey want Bike Pittsburgh to support AVs; 50 percent of members and 43 percent of non-members want the bike-advocacy organization to "actively support" autonomous vehicles. Only 3 percent of members and 7 percent of non-members want them to oppose AVs.

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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Port Authority of Allegheny County leadership quietly shaken up, advocates ask for more transparency

Posted By on Wed, Mar 8, 2017 at 5:15 PM

Port Authority bus picking up riders - CP PHOTO BY AARON WARNICK
  • CP photo by Aaron Warnick
  • Port Authority bus picking up riders
One Feb. 24, the Port Authority of Allegheny County board added a last-minute agenda item announcing that Port Authority CEO Ellen McLean’s contract would not be renewed past June. The item wasn’t listed in the board meeting’s initial agenda, and when McLean spoke earlier in the meeting, she didn’t mention her imminent departure. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported in a story headlined “Port Authority forces out McLean, seeks executive with more transit experience,” that some board members didn’t know about this decision until the night before the Feb. 24 board meeting.

At the time, Port Authority board chair Bob Hurley wouldn’t elaborate on the decision to cut ties with McLean, only saying that the decision between the board and the CEO was “mutual.”

"This transit agency has come so far from where we were just a few short years ago, which is why I believe now is the right time for me to pass the torch to someone else," McLean said in a statement issued after the Feb. 24 meeting.

On March 3, a TribLive article stated that Hurley will likely leave the Port Authority board and his seat will be replaced by Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald’s chief of staff Jennifer Liptak. Port Authority vice chair Jeffrey Letwin will likely step into the chair role. Allegheny County’s initial announcement of this shift came on March 3 and was at the end of a statement containing a laundry list of legislation that Fitzgerald had introduced to Allegheny County Council; there was no mention of Hurley departing the Port Authority Board.

On March 7, Fitzgerald nominated Hurley to serve on the county’s Airport Authority board. Fitzgerald says he wanted to see Hurley, who is also head of the county’s economic development team, on the Airport Authority because the county owns thousands of acres of developable land surrounding the airport. “The plan was always to move [Hurley] to the airport,” says Fitzgerald. “There is so much economic development opportunity there.”

However, Fitzgerald provided no comment on why Liptak would be joining the Port Authority board in the March 3 TribLive article, but told City Paper earlier today that he is confident in Liptak because “she does a good job wherever she is.”

Liptak, who Fitzgerald says will be leading the search for the new Port Authority CEO, has served in county government for years and offers a breadth of experience in budgeting and development, but with little official public-transit experience. But Fitzgerald says Liptak has been “involved in every transit decisions we make,” and she has “good relationships with all the stakeholders that deal with transit in the region.”

All of these big shifts with little public notice has made some advocates wary of the board-appointee process. Molly Nichols, of the public-transit-advocacy group Pittsburghers for Public Transportation, wonders why these big decisions happened so quickly and relatively quietly. She is calling for more transparency when board members are appointed.

“PPT would like to see more transparent processes for board appointments, including naming the qualifications of appointees and holding public hearings,” says Nichols. “This would give the public the opportunity to ask appointees how they plan to serve the transit riders of Allegheny County.”

This isn't the first time that Fitzgerald's handling of board appointments has come under fire. Although he has since abandoned the policy, after taking office in 2013, he required all board members to submit undated letters of resignation that Fitzgerald could activate at any time. There was also some tumult when Fitzgerald ousted PAT's former director and put his own appointees in power positions, also in 2013

Fitzgerald’s Port Authority appointees, like Liptak, don’t require any confirmation by county council or any public vetting. Hurley’s appointment does need approval by county council, but out of hundreds of Fitzgerald’s appointees, council has only failed to confirm one, a man indicted on federal embezzlement charges in 2010.

But Fitzgerald says the timing of Port Authority CEO leaving and Hurley moving boards shouldn’t be taken as upheaval at the Port Authority. He says the reason these changes were made quickly is because the authority is stable. “It is not like we have all these problems we have to make changes, it’s just the opposite,” says Fitzgerald.

In terms of increasing public participation in the appointee process, Fitzgerald believes the current system works fine as is.

“We get a lot of folks who suggest board members,” says Fitzgerald. “At the end of the day, the elected officials are given the responsibility that these agencies run well. If it doesn't run right, we are going to be the ones taking responsibility.”

This sentiment somewhat echoes a statement made by Steve Palonis, of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85, after the announcement of McLean’s departure. Palonis said in the Post-Gazette, “Rich [Fitzgerald] is the guy in charge and this is what he wants to do.”

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Why a small item in Gov. Wolf’s budget proposal is a big deal for Pennsylvania public transit

Posted By on Wed, Feb 15, 2017 at 1:48 PM

Gov. Tom Wolf at a press event in March 2016 - CP PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • CP photo by Ryan Deto
  • Gov. Tom Wolf at a press event in March 2016
Expanding Allegheny County’s public-transit network is an idea that has wide-reaching support. Residents in low-income neighborhoods say they need more buses because that is their only means of getting around affordably. Wealthier neighborhoods often desire a light-rail system that connects to Downtown and other hip neighborhoods. And while finding additional funds has proven extremely difficult, Gov. Tom Wolf is proposing a fix that would at least stop cash from funneling out of Pennsylvania’s public-transit fund.

For the past several years, a growing chunk of the Pennsylvania's motor vehicle fund has been siphoned off to pay for an increasing number of Pennsylvania State Police troopers. (Monies from the fund are used to pay for a multitude of projects, including bridge and road construction.) Last year, state legislators responded by passing a rule limiting PennDOT’s allocation for state police, and mandated that allocation shrink by 4 percent each year until it’s reduced to $500 million. But Gov. Wolf is going even further and is proposing moving the state-police funding out of the motor vehicle fund entirely.

In his 2017-2018 budget, Wolf  wants to fund the troopers through a $25-per-person fee, for towns that rely solely on the service of state police, instead of taking money from the motor vehicle fund. "Nothing else in life is free," said Wolf of state police in Allentown’s Morning Call in February, "and this isn't either."

Chris Sandvig, a transit expert at Pittsburgh Community Redevelopment Group, says that under the current circumstances, the motor vehicle fund is obligated to pay for both road construction projects and state police, meaning funding for state police is in direct conflict for money that could go to improve our roads. Sandvig says that as the motor vehicle fund is increasingly taken over to pay for state police, then money to build road constructions could then be in conflict with funds for public-transit improvements.

And Sandvig says more and more small municipalities are using state troopers to police their towns. In fact, statewide news website Keystone Crossroads reported in May 2016 that more than half of Pennsylvania municipalities fully rely on state troopers for police service.

“The users of the highway system are paying for state troopers in towns that don’t want to pay for police,” says Sandvig.

Sandvig says the more money used from the motor vehicle fund to pay for state police means a significant chunk is unavailable to pay for potential public-transit projects. In 2010, the motor vehicle fund contributed $530 million to state police, and in 2016 it had ballooned to $839 million. “If it continues at this rate, it’s on track to a hit a billion dollars this year,” says Sandvig. “This is unsustainable, and something needs to be done.”

Currently, the motor vehicle fund is primarily funded from a tax on gasoline and a fee collected through motor-vehicle registration. Sandvig is pleased with the governor’s proposal. “So many people put so much work into funding public transportation, and the money we pay at the pump should go to transportation," says Sandvig.

Wolf’s proposal needs support from the state legislature before becoming law, but state Republicans, who control both the House and Senate are open to negotiating a fee on municipalities.

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Thursday, February 9, 2017

What's a sneckdown and what does it teach us about Pittsburgh road design?

Posted By on Thu, Feb 9, 2017 at 12:39 PM

Sneckdown on Friendship Avenue in Bloomfield - CP PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • CP photo by Ryan Deto
  • Sneckdown on Friendship Avenue in Bloomfield
What the heck is a sneckdown? A neckdown is a traffic-calming design (like a curb bump-out) that is meant to slow down drivers. Combine neckdown with snow and you get sneckdown.

After snowfalls, Pittsburghers can see sneckdowns just about everywhere they look, since there are plenty of places where snow falls on the street that cars don’t drive over. Sometimes these untouched snow patches are as small as a kite, but other times they are as large as an above-ground swimming pool.

Eric Boerer, of Bike Pittsburgh, says they illustrate exactly how much extra space is given to vehicles on Pittsburgh streets.

“The clear thing is that they show a lot of unused road space,” says Boerer. “And this is one of the big issues we have in such a tight city.”

Boerer says some of the most egregious sneckdowns occur in Bloomfield. He points to the intersection of Liberty Avenue and the Bloomfield Bridge, and spaces around Friendship Park, as an areas where snow highlights a lot of unused square footage. He believes this unused space provides strong arguments that sidewalks can be made larger and bike paths can be installed, even if the city has a sometime contentious relationship with winter bike riders.

Bike Pittsburgh does a lot of outreach to teach Pittsburgh residents about smart road design that can accommodate cars, bicycles and pedestrians equally. (This concept is known as complete streets.) Boerer says normally groups like Bike Pittsburgh would have to set up physical objects and staff in sections of roads to prove roads can be designed differently, but sneckdowns accomplish that work for them.

“It is almost like a real-time [road design] experiment,” says Boerer. “It proves your point without doing an intervention. It can reveal a lot about how motorists are using the streets.”

Sneckdowns can also reveal other uses for wasted space on road. Boerer says sneckdowns at the intersection on Schenley Drive (near the Schenley Park visitor center) reveal ample space that could be used for green space, like grass or bushes. He says this could help mitigate stormwater issues that occur often in Oakland and Four Mile Run in Greenfield.

Boerer says sneckdowns are well known in the bike-ped advocacy community and by city planners, but there have been no street redesigns in Pittsburgh as a result of sneckdowns as in New York City and Philadelphia. But, he is hopeful that will change considering Pittsburgh’s growing interest in road design with the city’s formation of the Complete Streets Advisory Council.

“Right not there is a lot of momentum on complete streets,” Boerer says. “Sneckdowns are part of that. [They are] a great way to visualize these traffic calming ideas.”

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Monday, February 6, 2017

Pittsburgh Public-transit advocates and union groups protest Uber

Posted By on Mon, Feb 6, 2017 at 6:02 PM

Uber protesters in Denny Park, in Pittsburgh's Strip District - CP PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • CP photo by Ryan Deto
  • Uber protesters in Denny Park, in Pittsburgh's Strip District
On Feb. 2, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announced that he was leaving President Donald Trump’s economic advisory council. The billionaire was already in a lot of hot water for joining the team, both from the public and Uber employees. But criticism escalated Jan. 28, when during a hour-long strike by New York City taxis in solidarity with immigrants affected by Trump’s travel ban, Uber turned off its surge pricing.  (Uber says the no-surge-pricing timing was unrelated and happened after the taxi strike was over.) The company subsequently lost more than 200,000 users after a #DeleteUber Twitter campaign.

But protesters in Pittsburgh are still upset with the ride-hailing company. On Feb. 4, a group of more than 35 protested at Denny Park in the Strip District, and then marched toward Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center (where they make and test driverless cars), located just a few blocks away.

Laura Wiens, of transit-advocacy group Pittsburghers for Public Transportation, commended Kalanick for stepping down from Trump’s advisory council, but believes the company can do more to support immigrants. Wiens said she would also like to see Uber oppose state anti-immigrant bills like SB 10, Pennsylvania’s anti-sanctuary city bill currently in the state Senate.

Uber spokesperson Craig Ewer responded to the protest with a statement sent to City Paper: "More than ever, it's important that we all support freedom of speech. Like many others, Uber strongly opposes the President's unjust immigration ban which is harming many innocent people, many of whom are drivers. That's why we created a $3 million legal-defense fund to help, and why we're offering compensation for lost earnings for any driver stranded abroad. We will continue to stand up for those being hurt by the President's executive order."

Uber also recently donated $10,000 to Women's Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh to provide rides to victims of domestic abuse.

Wiens added that the group's frustration with Uber goes beyond its immigration-related policies, and PPT believes Uber has policies that hurt workers.

“Just as Trump is in support of deregulation, so is Uber,” said Wiens. “Just as Trump is anti-worker, so is Uber.”

Sean McGrath is an Uber driver who said Uber has labor practices that hurt drivers’ ability to make money and speak out against management. Uber refers to drivers as “partners” and pays drivers as independent contractors, not employees.

“The partnership is only one-way,” said McGrath. “There is no way for us to voice our opposition.” McGrath has recently grown frustrated with how quickly the Uber app updates its “hot spots,” or highlighted areas where drivers can take advantage of surge-pricing rides. “This zones refresh every 15 seconds, so you expect to get a good pay, but then the surge disappears by the time you arrive.”

Tom Conroy, of the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents most of the county’s public-transit workers, was most critical of Uber’s specific role in Pittsburgh: driverless vehicles. He says driverless vehicles could eliminate public-transportation jobs and that Uber has been silent on this topic.

“Where is [Uber’s] commitment to the 100,000 of workers who stand to lose jobs with the emergence of autonomous cars,” said Conroy. Protesters also called on Uber to share its transportation data with Pittsburgh, as well commit to a more transparent process when working with the city and community.


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Friday, January 6, 2017

Studies show bike lanes can reduce congestion, contrary to Pittsburgh residents' criticism

Posted By on Fri, Jan 6, 2017 at 3:44 PM

Bike riders on Penn Avenue protected bike lane - PHOTO COURTESY OF BIKE PITTSBURGH
  • Photo courtesy of Bike Pittsburgh
  • Bike riders on Penn Avenue protected bike lane
Pushing back against new bike lanes is becoming a Pittsburgh tradition. When Mayor Bill Peduto started to install the lanes a couple years ago along Penn Avenue, in Oakland and elsewhere, there was outcry from business owners, residents in the neighborhoods and drivers worrying about parking. Granted there was also support from hundreds of bikers and advocates, but that support tended to be downplayed by media outlets.

Now, two years after having set up protected bike lanes Downtown on Penn Avenue (which sometimes receives more than 1,000 trips per day) and the Roberto Clemente Bridge, the city is still facing strong push-back on an extension to that system along Fort Pitt Boulevard. In response, Pittsburgh City Councilor Theresa Kail-Smith (District 2) is proposing the creation of a bike-lane committee to field complaints and suggestions for new bike lanes.

However, as advocacy group Bike Pittsburgh points out, there already is a Complete Streets Advisory Committee being set up that can field road-design complaints, such as for bike lanes.

“We believe that [Pittsburgh] should first concentrate on getting the Complete Streets Advisory Committee off the ground and running — a committee that was written into the Complete Streets bill that unanimously passed council in November,” wrote Bike Pittsburgh director Scott Bricker in an email to City Paper. “If a bicycle-only advisory committee is still needed, so be it, but they should figure out how it will coordinate with the Complete Streets Committee so that the two are not redundant.”

In addition to the Complete Streets committee, Pittsburgh’s Department of City Planning conducts numerous public meetings every year led by bike/pedestrian coordinator Kristine Saunders, where complaints and suggestions about new bike-lane projects can be filed. CP has sat in on many of these meetings, which are always held in the neighborhood directly affected, and they usually include many representatives from both the pro-bike-lane and anti-bike-lane creed.

Nonetheless, the Pittsburgh Trib Live reported Jan. 3 that Kail-Smith was motivated to set up a bike-lane committee due to “numerous complaints about existing lanes Downtown from residents who say they take up space for street parking and cause traffic congestion.”

But the assertion that bike lanes cause more congestion actually runs contrary to studies in multiple big cities across the country. In New York City, a protected bike lane on Columbus Avenue actually improved congestion, decreasing travel time for cars from 4.5 minutes to 3 minutes along a 20-block stretch. In Minneapolis, the U.S.’s top bike-commuting city, news-data website fivethirtyeight.com studied 10 segments in the Minnesota city in 2014 and determined that the addition of a bike lane at the cost of a car lane had no affect on traffic times for cars.

In fact, a 2013 University of Virginia study shows that bike riders only reduce congestion when they have bike lanes to ride in. The Fort Pitt Boulevard proposed extension to Downtown's protected bike lane would add about half-a-mile of lanes and connect directly to the Great Allegheny Passage trail, which runs to Washington, D.C.

The proposed bike-lane advisory committee will be discussed at 10 a.m. Wed., Jan 11, in the city council chambers, located on the fifth floor of the City-County Building at 414 Grant St., Downtown.

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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Downtown Pittsburgh’s Strawberry Way named favorite 'Street Transformation'

Posted By on Thu, Jan 5, 2017 at 11:14 AM

Strawberry Way before (left) and after (right) - PHOTO COURTESY OF ENVISION DOWNTOWN
  • Photo courtesy of Envision Downtown
  • Strawberry Way before (left) and after (right)
The alley known as Strawberry Way that slices through the northern section of Downtown, from Liberty to Grant streets, has always been a shortcut for some Pittsburgh pedestrians, but not always a desirable one. Trash was usually strewn across its asphalt and the blank, high walls of skyscrapers hurried walkers through as fast as their feet could carry them.

Then this summer, thanks to the work of public-private partnership Envision Downtown and others, the alley was transformed. Colorful designs were painted on the blacktop by local artist Deanna Mance, roadblocks were put up to stop cars from driving through, and picnic tables and planter boxes were placed on the street to encourage people to enjoy their new Downtown oasis.

Last week, the national transit and urban planning news site Streetsblog USA awarded Strawberry Way its Best Street Transformation, People’s Choice. The Pittsburgh alley beat out five other projects in cities including San Francisco, Chicago and Atlanta.

“Strawberry Way is the latest example of partnerships at work to promote a people-first Downtown Pittsburgh,” wrote Sean Luther of Envision Downtown in an email to City Paper. “In this case, Envision Downtown relied heavily on a coalition of the PDP, the City’s Department of Public Works, the Office of Public Art, the Colcom Foundation and PPG Paints to drive this transformative project forward.”

The Strawberry Way transformation won the honor by receiving the most votes on the Streetsblog USA website.

In addition to being more aesthetically pleasing than before, Luther says the the project has resulted in a 43 percent increase in pedestrian traffic through the alley, according to a study completed by Envision Downtown. Also, there has been an outstanding 462 percent increase in people spending time in Strawberry Way.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is proud of Strawberry Way’s transformation too. “Strawberry Way is a great example of our community-driven vision for making Pittsburgh a sustainable and efficient 21st Century city for all,” wrote Peduto in an email to CP.

Check out the CP video below to see the transformation in progress.


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Friday, December 30, 2016

Don't forget: Port Authority fare changes start Sun., Jan. 1

Posted By on Fri, Dec 30, 2016 at 10:49 AM

Grab your free connect card before 2016 ends. - CP PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • CP photo by Ryan Deto
  • Grab your free connect card before 2016 ends.
Starting New Year's Day (Sun., Jan. 1, 2017), there will be a slew of changes coming to how riders pay for and ride on Port Authority of Allegheny County buses and light-rail cars. Most riders have probably been reminded hundreds of times by the media, Port Authority advertisements and bus drivers themselves, but Pittsburgh City Paper thought it prudent to offer one final reminder.

Also, Fri., Dec. 30, and Sat., Dec. 31, are the last days to get a free ConnectCard at the Downtown Port Authority Service Center at 534 Smithfield St., participating Giant Eagle grocery stores and a lots of other locations. ConnectCards will cost $1 starting Jan. 1, 2017. And you'll want to have one, because the cash fare is rising from $2.50 to $2.75; ConnectCard users will pay $2.50.

Since the $3.75 Zone 2 fare charge is being scrapped and all fares will be $2.75 or less, the changes should provide a boost to some suburban riders who rely on the bus to get around. And there are also some policy changes that could help riders with disabilities.

All the changes are outlined below:

Fares

  • $2.50 fare throughout whole system if using ConnectCard
  • $2.75 cash fare
  • $1 transfers using ConnectCard only (cash users will have to pay $2.75 again if transferring)
  • $1 fee to purchase new ConnectCards
  • 7-day pass available for purchase
  • Half-fare passes for people with disabilities will be available on ConnectCards, as will reduced-fare child passes eventually.
Riding
  • Pay-as-you-enter on all routes
  • Exit through back door(s) on all routes. (Riders unable to use back door can exit at front.)
  • Elimination of the Downtown free zone for bus rides. (Light-rail will still be free Downtown and to the North Shore.)
  • Suburban light-rail riders will operate on a honor system and will tap cards either in car or on receptacles on stations, starting July 2017.

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Monday, November 7, 2016

Pittsburgh reinvigorates transatlantic connections with direct flights to Iceland

Posted By on Mon, Nov 7, 2016 at 5:01 PM

IMAGE COURTESY OF WOW AIR
  • Image courtesy of WOW air
For years, the only all-season international flights out of Pittsburgh International Airport were one-hour journeys to Toronto, a city just a five-hour drive from Pittsburgh.

But today it was announced PIT airport will finally be seeing year-round flights again across international borders with flights to Iceland. WOW air has announced four flights a week from Pittsburgh to Reykjavik, Iceland's capital, starting in on June 16. From the volcanic nation's capital, WOW also offers connections to 20 European cities, including Paris, Rome, London and Barcelona.

“We are excited to once again have year-round transatlantic service with easy access to Europe,” Allegheny County Airport Authority CEO Christina Cassotis said in a press release.

WOW air is a low-cost carrier that has been rapidly expanding into U.S. markets, with Pittsburgh becoming its first midsize city to receive service. Flights are currently on sale from Pittsburgh to Iceland and beyond, with some one-way flights for as low as $99. (However, rates in the summer months are about triple that.)

Regardless, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald is thrilled to see Pittsburgh get more European flights.

“Our recent growth and momentum at Pittsburgh International is matching the momentum and growth of our region," said Fitzgerald in a press release. "WOW recognized Pittsburgh’s pent-up demand for air service to Europe, and the airline will greatly enhance travelers’ options.”

And WOW's CEO Skúli Mogensen feels that the airline's expansion into Pittsburgh will work as a two-way benefit, also attracting Europeans to the Steel City. (Maybe they will want to visit our potential Whiskey Museum.)

“Pittsburgh is certainly a destination on the rise and one that will appeal to a wide range of European travelers looking to discover somewhere different, so we’re thrilled to add the destination to our route list,” said Mogensen in a press release.

But while excitement seems to be in the air at the airport, riders on WOW might want to temper their enthusiasm; the low-cost carrier only allows one carry-on bag per passenger and the fees can reach as high as $100 on a one-way flight.

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