Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The TDP: How can you ensure no one is left without transit? And what’s next?

Some of the comments and questions received by Port Authority were from riders who were concerned that changes proposed under the Transit Development Plan (TDP) would leave them without alternatives to their current service.

Port Authority is committed to accessibility for all riders, and in most cases the proposed changes will result in improved or maintained service for about 99.5 percent of our riders. For the small remainder of riders – less than one-half of one percent – we are pledging to work with each individual to help identify appropriate transit solutions.

ACCESS might be the best option for riders who have difficulty walking to their bus stops. ACCESS provides advanced reservation, door-to-door transit service from 6:00 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week. While it is primarily used by the senior citizen and disabled populations, it is open to all riders. There’s more information on ACCESS on
our web site.

For other riders, Park and Ride lots will serve as an important connection to transit. Under the proposed transit development plan, Port Authority would create more Park and Ride lots in suburban areas. The map below shows proposed locations:

Port Authority will continue to serve its existing Park and Ride lots under the Transit Development Plan – 62 lots with a total of 13,713 spaces.
The proposed Transit Development Plan also calls for the creation of Transit Hubs throughout the region. Some of these new hubs would include parking where available:

Using another transit carrier may be an option for certain riders, particularly those living near the edge of our service area. Port Authority will be working with neighboring counties’ transit agencies and other regional carriers to refer riders to these services where appropriate.

When changes do take place on your route, you will know about them well in advance. The changes proposed under the Transit Development Plan will be implemented gradually over the course of several years, with the first round of changes slated to take place in March of 2010.

And as we weigh your comments and make changes to the plan prior to its adoption, we will be sharing those developments here and on
our TDP Web site.

Please continue to share your thoughts and questions with us as we work to improve transit in Allegheny County. Due to the volume of questions received, we apologize for not being able to respond to everyone individually.

If you have questions specific to your individual route that you are still seeking an answer to, please use this link to email us.

Monday, September 28, 2009

TDP Reminder: Public Comment Period Ends Wednesday

The public comment period for the proposed final Transit Development Plan ends this Wednesday, Sept. 30 at 4 p.m.

Specific information on proposed route changes, fare adjustments and much more is posted on our TDP site.
There, you can submit your comments via an online form, or you can mail them to Port Authority Fare and Service Proposals, Heinz 57 Center, 345 Sixth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222-2527.

If we didn’t get to answer your question asked on this blog, please know that your voice will be heard – we are collecting all comments left on TransitBlog and submitting them for official consideration.

Port Authority’s Board of Directors will be voting on the proposed final TDP and a timeline for implementation at its next meeting, scheduled for October 23.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

G-20 Updates Available on Our Web Site and Twitter

We're posting all updates on G-20 transit changes in two places.

Port Authority's G-20 Summit page is your hub for all kinds of information on transit service during this historic occasion, including:

We're also on Twitter, offering updates on detours and much more. You can find us under @PGHtransit.

Additionally, Port Authority’s Customer Service line, 412-442-2000 (TTY: 412-231-7007) is operating on its regular weekday schedule, 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

We thank you for your patience as we work to transport riders safely during this event.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Where do I catch my bus during the G-20?

Port Authority has published a G-20 Downtown Stop Guide that shows where riders should go to catch their buses. The guide is available on our G-20 Web site, on schedule racks and on buses.

You can download a copy directly by clicking here.

As most of you already know, much of Downtown Pittsburgh will not be accessible by car during the Summit. Port Authority bus and T service will provide direct service into Downtown Pittsburgh, following a regular weekday schedule.

Routes will serve the same stops and Park and Ride lots outside of Downtown but deviate as they enter the Golden Triangle. Routes will funnel into the Central Business District and hub around the Boulevard of the Allies corridor.

Port Authority will not operate special shuttles to parking areas outside of Downtown during G-20. We are, however, providing regular weekday service to roughly 60 Park and Ride facilities across the city and Allegheny County. Combined, they offer more than 15,000 spaces.

More helpful information is available at our G-20 Web page (www.portauthority.org/g20), including an interactive map, route-by-route descriptions and Park and Ride locations.

We anticipate delays and unanticipated changes during the two-day event. Things might change at any moment, so be sure to check the web site for updates, which will also be posted on our Twitter feed (@PGHtransit). You can also sign up for email alerts on our G-20 page.

Port Authority’s Downtown Service Center will be closed September 23-25, but the Customer Service line 412-442-2000 (TTY: 412-231-7007) will operate on its regular weekday schedule, 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Thanks for your patience and we promise to keep you updated on any developments regarding our services.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

G-20 Transit Information Announced

Today Port Authority of Allegheny County is releasing its transit rerouting plan for the G-20 Summit, taking place in Pittsburgh on September 24 and 25.

During this historic event, Port Authority will be providing bus and light rail transit to Downtown Pittsburgh using reconfigured routes developed in accordance with G-20 security zones.

Details including an interactive map, route-by-route descriptions and Park and Ride information are now available on
Port Authority’s G-20 Web page.

G-20 transit routing will mostly likely go into effect on the evening of Wednesday, September 23 and continue through the summit’s conclusion on Friday, September 25. However, it is possible that detouring could begin earlier or end later.

Similarly, sudden events or disruptions could lead Port Authority to further reroute its buses and light rail service. Things might change at any moment, and we will be providing updates through a number of channels:

  • Port Authority’s G-20 Web page: www.portauthority.org/G20.
  • E-mail: Anyone may sign up to receive route changes at our G-20 Web page.
  • Via employers and schools: Port Authority has developed direct contacts with many major employers and schools who intend to relay our information to workers and students.
  • Twitter: Port Authority plans to update route changes using its account at twitter.com/pghtransit.
Additional information will be released shortly, including a list of bus stop changes for each route, which will help riders to plan their trips, including Downtown transfers.

For those using public transit during the G-20 Summit, we recommend allowing for extra travel time. Port Authority will use its regular weekday service schedules during the summit, but delays – potentially lengthy ones – are anticipated. Our goal is to bring riders to their destinations safely and as quickly as possible.

ACCESS will be providing paratransit service during the summit, but encourages riders who have Downtown appointments to reschedule until after September 25. The Downtown ACCESS office will be closed for the duration of the event, but its call center will remain open.

Port Authority’s Downtown Service Center will be closed September 23-25, but the Customer Service line 412-442-2000 (TTY: 412-231-7007) will operate on its regular weekday schedule, 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

We should also mention that Port Authority is hosting a public hearing today from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Pittsburgh Marriott City Center to gain public comment on its final Transit Development Plan proposal, which would bring sweeping improvements to the transit system. The full proposal and hearing details are available at
tdp.portauthority.org. To be clear, this is not related to the G-20.

Thank you for your patience, and we will continue to update you with G-20-related information as it becomes available.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

TDP & G-20: A few reminders

The public hearing for the proposed final Transit Development Plan will be held on Tuesday, September 15 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Pittsburgh Marriott City Center, located Downtown near Mellon Arena.

If you’d like to make a comment at the hearing, we encourage you to pre-register by calling (412) 566-5437 or the TTY line at (412) 231-7007 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on weekdays. Pre-registration will end on Monday, September 14 at 3:30 p.m.

If you haven’t pre-registered, you may still register to speak when you arrive at the hearing and will be called on provided time is available.

Full details on the hearing, including information about shuttle buses to the event, are available on Port Authority's Transit Development Plan site.

* * *

The G-20 Summit is just around the corner and Port Authority will be releasing transit routing information in the very near future.

You can sign up for G-20 email blasts at our online summit information hub, and continue to watch this space and our Twitter feed for more details.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Why change the way things are? Won't new names and new routes just confuse people?

For people to use transit, they have to be able to understand it. If they don't understand it, or if it's too difficult to learn, they'll drive or do something else.

Right now, the service that Port Authority provides is among the most complicated - if not the most complicated - in the country. Port Authority serves 72 million passengers per year with 187 routes. By comparison, Chicago's CTA serves 610 million passengers per year with 161 bus routes, and Boston's MBTA serves nearly 400 million passengers per year with 177 bus routes.

Most Port Authority routes also have many variants, which means that individual routes do different things at different times of the day. One route has over 40 variants, making it very difficult for riders to know what individual trips will do. Furthermore, the public input that was received during the TDP process indicated that most people - both those who ride Port Authority services and those who don't - view the system as too complicated.

It's also important to recognize that transit systems, like any type of transportation system, experience a large amount of turnover. People move, they graduate from one school and start at another, they change jobs, they retire - those and so many other life events alter their travel patterns.

According to a 2007 Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission survey of Port Authority riders, on any given day two percent of riders are making their first trip on transit. The survey also found that seven percent of riders use transit less than once a week. Throughout Allegheny County, there are always large numbers of people who are trying to figure out how Port Authority services operate. Making Port Authority services easier to understand and easier to use will attract more new riders to transit.

Even longtime passengers can benefit from simpler and more effective service, as the proposed changes will make service faster, more direct and more predictable. Also, many regular passengers ride the bus to and from work everyday but don't use it for occasional trips - to go to a concert or sporting event, for instance - because they don't understand the system beyond their weekday route. As a result, simpler service and a new route numbering system will also encourage regular riders to make more trips by transit.

As one commenter noted, many of Port Authority's routes have been around since the 1930s, and this is true. However, Pittsburgh has undergone some of the most dramatic changes of any city in the country, and is now very different than it was in the 1930s, or even in the 1970s. The proposed changes are designed to serve Allegheny County's needs as they exist today. Routes that work well, no matter when they were first designed, will be maintained or improved. Routes that no longer work well will be revised to meet today's needs, or in a few cases where significant transit markets no longer exist, discontinued.

In May, we presented three possible service concepts, one of which was a grid system like one that might be found in other cities. We rejected that concept, however, because a grid just doesn't make sense for unique topography and geography of our region. Port Authority wants to create transit system that serves Allegheny County's needs and works with its distinctive characteristics.

The region's successful transformation following the decline of the steel industry indicates that Pittsburghers are actually very good at change, and the signs of progress are visible all over Allegheny County. Port Authority is working to ensure our transit system reflects that change.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I heard you’re cutting bus routes and that fewer than 10 will take passengers Downtown. Is this true?

Put simply, no. The numbers you may have been hearing refer to circulation patterns, not routes.

Currently 143 routes serve Downtown. Those routes enter, circulate through and exit the Golden Triangle using 40 different patterns.

For instance, the 16A enters Downtown from the North Shore via the Seventh Street bridge, turns left onto Liberty, follows that to the East Busway, turns around to head back down Liberty and back onto the Seventh Street bridge.

Like the 16A, the 16D passes through the North Shore and onto Seventh Street to head Downtown, but it turns onto Fort Duquesne Boulevard, Sixth Street and Liberty Avenue before exiting via the Ninth Street bridge.

Current Downtown circulation patterns.

The proposed Transit Development Plan calls for streamlined Downtown circulation, reducing the number of circulation patterns from 40 to fewer than 10. So under the proposed plan, all routes coming from the North Shore would enter Downtown via the Ninth Street bridge, turn onto Liberty, then onto Stanwix Street, then follow Fort Duquesne Boulevard back to Seventh Street.

Proposed Downtown circulation patterns.

Streamlined circulation would offer many advantages over the current circulation patterns:
  • Buses would run on fewer streets and make fewer turns, reducing delays and helping to alleviate gridlock
  • Riders who can use multiple routes to get to their destination would be able to catch all available options at the same stops, reducing their waiting time
  • Transferring would be much less confusing, especially for people who only ride the bus occasionally – under the proposed plan, each circulation pattern would connect with all others at one or more points
All told, the majority of the proposed routes would continue to serve Downtown.

For more details on how we came up with the proposed new circulation patterns, visit our Downtown Circulation Patterns page on Port Authority’s Transit Development Plan site.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Am I going to have to walk farther to catch my bus?

When compared to other transit systems, Port Authority’s bus stops are spaced very close together. On many routes, there’s a bus stop almost at every corner. Some routes average more than one stop per block.

Take the 86B, for instance – stopping at Mathilda, Millvale, Winebiddle, Evaline, Atlantic, Aiken and Graham as it travels Penn Avenue through Bloomfield, Garfield and Friendship. Only 341 feet separate the stops at Mathilda and Millvale.

Stops that are too close together make for a slower bus ride, and many Port Authority riders have told us they wouldn’t mind walking a little farther in exchange for faster service. That’s why the proposed final Transit Development Plan aims to consolidate stops and apply a standardized spacing scheme.

Different types of routes would have different stop spacing. The proposed Rapid Bus routes, for instance, would feature the largest spacing out of any routes in the system, but in return riders would enjoy speedy service similar to light rail transit.

Along routes that serve a high number of transit-dependent riders, stops would be closer together, while commuter routes – where many passengers gather at Park and Ride lots – would have stops spaced farther apart.

In most cases across the system, riders would only have to walk another block or two to get to a bus stop. At most, this would mean walking another minute or two to reach a stop.

We realize there are many places in Allegheny County with terrain that’s tricky for pedestrians to navigate. And there are many places that don’t have sidewalks. We’ll take those factors into consideration when spacing stops and make exceptions to the standard where safety is a concern.

Additionally, Port Authority will continue to work with ACCESS to provide door-to-door transit service for riders with special needs.

An addition to Friday’s post: In regard to changes to the 84C Hill Loop route, we wanted to note that service to Wharton Square won’t be discontinued until the new grocery store is built in the Hill District.

And to all those who commented on the last blog post, thank you for your thoughts. We’ll be tackling some of your questions here shortly.