This Just In: January 7 - 14 | This Just In | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Pie in the Skybus

Summary: A once-revolutionary form of transportation (now so crippled it has to be towed) is being readied for display, giving Pittsburghers an opportunity to look at the future that wasn't. Reporter: Dave Crawley, KDKA Channel 2 Airtime: 1 minute, 54 seconds on Dec. 30 Visuals: * The now elderly, gray-haired engineers of Skybus -- the one-time county transit system of the future -- taking stock of their dinosaur, an incapacitated white shell of what it once was. * A transit-history buff, who is tagged, "Skybus fan." * Archived footage of Skybus in its heyday, zooming along its elevated tracks. Highlights: * When anchor Kristine Sorensen announces, "Vehicles powered by electricity -- 'people movers' -- are becoming popular. The first one, Skybus, was built in Pittsburgh more than 40 years ago, and then it was abandoned." * When a Westinghouse engineer recalls, "It's been a long, long time since I've seen that vehicle." * When Crawley elaborates, "Six months have passed since Westinghouse engineers revisited the revolutionary vehicle they designed long ago. Skybus was the hit of the county fair in South Park in the summer of '65. More than 40 years later and 60 degrees colder, the computerized car is about to move again -- this time, with help." * When Crawley describes the move: "A flatbed truck. A final inspection by history buff Doug Brendel. He found the last remaining car after a two-year search." * When Crawley adds, "Hall Industries owner Harold Hall saved Skybus from the scrap heap more than a decade ago, but then it sat in this parking lot, until [a company] decided to buy it, move it and eventually display it at their headquarters in West Mifflin." * When Hall remarks, "I think it's gonna have a great opportunity for the world to see it." * When Brendel anticipates problems that might occur with Skybus en route to its restoration: "The axle and the suspension might fall off, the tires might rip apart. Besides that, no problems." * When Crawley concludes, "Far removed in years, distance and temperature from those summer days in South Park, Skybus is about to take its final journey. The truck pulls out of the lot, and Skybus moves toward a dignified retirement at the end of the line." What We Learned: Farewell, Skybus! We hardly knew ye. Unanswered Question: Will we ever look back at the Mon-Fayette Expressway with the same sentimentality? News Value: 5. Pittsburghers have a hard time letting things go, and Skybus seems a perennial favorite. Skybus has a certain mid-1960s camp appeal, and one advantage over other transit solutions: It never had a chance to fail.

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