Project R of Port Authority’s NexTransit 25-year plan, and the upgrades would include creating bus-only lanes, eliminating certain bus stops, and creating enhanced stations with real-time transit information in hopes of reducing the amount of times buses wait in traffic.
The Route 837 corridor is an important one for public transit users, who are largely low-income in this area. About 2,500 riders a day utilize five different bus routes that serve this corridor. Homestead-McKeesport corridor is one of the main ways that public transit users from the Mon Valley access job centers in Oakland and Downtown Pittsburgh. Bus routes here also bypass several major attractions as well, including Sandcastle Water Park, Kennywood Amusement Park, the Waterfront retail and amusement center, and the Great Allegheny Passage multi-use trail.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Amy Silbermann of the Port Authority said the goal is to improve the on-time performance of those routes, to better serve bus riders.
“This is about a bus not getting stuck in traffic,” said Silbermann on Dec. 7.
There are several ways that the Port Authority proposed to improve travel times for its buses along the Route 837 corridor. One is to create bus-only lanes along the curbs so that buses don’t have to sit in traffic during stretches of their routes. Port Authority is also proposing adding new traffic signals with transit signal priority to reduce delays. Another is to install queue jumps for buses. Lastly, the Authority wants to eliminate some bus stops in hopes to improve travel times.
Currently, bus stops are about 500 feet apart along East Eighth Avenue in Homestead and Munhall. The authority is recommending those be changed to between 600 to 900 feet. The plan is to eliminate more dangerous stops and add improved amenities, like new shelters and benches, to others.
This stop-elimination proposal was met with some skepticism from transit advocacy Pittsburghers for Public Transit. At the Dec. 7 meeting, PPT director Laura Wiens said the advocates are “super concerned” eliminating that many stops would be a hardship to riders who have to walk on poorly maintained sidewalks, according to the Post-Gazette.
Better crosswalks are also part of the proposal, as well as major upgrades to bus stations near Kennywood and the Rankin Bridge.
Port Authority is still accepting comments on the proposal through its website. More meetings on the proposal will be held in early 2022.