Members of the public have until Feb. 1 to weigh in on a suite of route and service changes proposed as part of Pittsburgh Regional Transit’s Bus Rapid Transit project.
PRT maintains the rapid project will improve transit access, reliability, and speed by creating dedicated bus lanes running from Oakland to Downtown. According to planning documents, five existing bus routes, 61A, 61B, 61C, 71B, and the P3, will become BRT routes.
PRT proposes significant changes to the routes of five other buses. The 61D, 71A, 71C, and 71D will turn around in Oakland, no longer servicing Uptown or Downtown. The P3 will not travel as far on the MLK Jr. East Busway, stopping at the Wilkinsburg station and no longer serving Rankin and Swissvale.
Transit advocacy organization Pittsburghers for Public Transit encourages riders to review the proposed changes and take advantage of the public comment period before it closes on Feb. 1.
“At this point, we’re really just encouraging riders to look at all the proposed changes, because although there is some possibility for improvement of routes, there’s also the possibility that people are going to lose connection, too,” Dan Yablonsky, PPT’s Director of Communications, tells Pittsburgh City Paper.
In particular, Yablonsky says, PPT has heard from riders in Rankin and Swissvale who are concerned about the proposed loss of P3 service in their neighborhoods.
“I live in Rankin and the changes that PRT is proposing for the P3 would take away a critical lifeline from the many hard-working, low-wage earners who live in my community,” says Pearl Hughey, member of Pittsburghers for Public Transit. “The P3 provides us with vital access to jobs in Oakland. If PRT takes away this essential service, they would be turning their back on the essential workers who stayed riding transit and helped us all get through the pandemic.”
PRT spokesperson Adam Brandolph tells Pittsburgh City Paper that the proposed changes to the P3 route are intended to accommodate increased use of electric vehicles on the East Busway.
"Charging infrastructure for electric buses will be installed at Wilkinsburg Station, so the electric buses may not have enough power to reach Swissvale," he writes in an email.
Although only 15% of East Busway riders travel past Wilkinsburg Station to Swissvale or Rankin, Brandolph says those riders would not lose service as a result of the proposed changes.
Public comments may be submitted online, via voice message by calling 412-566-5335, or by mail addressed to Pittsburgh Regional Transit, Attn: BRT Service Changes, 345 Sixth Avenue, Pittsburgh.
This story was updated at 11 a.m. on Wed., Jan. 25 to include a statement from Pittsburgh Regional Transit.