Friday, July 27, 2012

ACCESS Paratransit Service Cuts Temporarily Avoided

The devastating cuts facing ACCESS riders will not occur in September, thanks to a special funding arrangement made possible by PennDOT and two federal programs that benefit transit riders with disabilities.

The Port Authority Board of Directors today unanimously voted to accept the funding and rescind plans that would have reduced ACCESS service hours and service area starting on September 2, 2012. Talks focused on resolving the broader transportation funding issues and the 35 percent Port Authority service reduction in September are ongoing and involve officials from the state, county, Authority and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85.

The ACCESS cuts would have been devastating to those riders throughout Allegheny County who rely on the shared-ride program that serves elderly and disabled riders. Some ACCESS riders have no other direct means of transportation.

The funding was made available through the federal Job Access and Reverse Commute, and New Freedom programs, both of which are matched by the state. This agreement follows calls for solutions to public transportation funding by Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, who is leading a broader effort to find lasting solutions to protect Port Authority bus and light rail service. Also, members of the Allegheny County delegation in the State Senate and House supported efforts to maintain viable transportation options for seniors and riders with disabilities throughout the county.

The Authority Board today voted to amend its current budget and accept $3.65 million from the state and federal sources, ensuring ACCESS service will remain stable through September 1, 2013.

"This will make a tremendous difference for people with disabilities, living outside the Port Authority service area who depend on ACCESS," said Lucy Spruill, an ACCESS rider and the Public Policy Director for UCP/CLASS. "This will allow those riders to leave their homes for work, health care and to enjoy meaningful lives.

"We very much appreciate the efforts of County Executive Fitzgerald, the Allegheny County legislative delegation as well as PennDOT, Port Authority and ACCESS. We look forward to continuing to work together to preserve public transportation for all the citizens of Allegheny County.”

The funding is a temporary solution for ACCESS riders. If no long-term solution is in place by September 1, 2013, ACCESS service reductions may take effect.

Friday Digest: July 27, 2012

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has revealed a new light display for its Bleecker Street station. The Arts for Transit program has developed this latest piece that incorporates LED lights in the form of a honeycomb along the ceiling. Inspired by the mathematical formula “Game of Life,” the lights flash and move in different directions representing the process of life. This art not only brightens the station but also leads riders to a new platform in the station where the new Bleecker Street transfer will soon be. Read more about this artwork at NY1.

Raleigh, NC, is taking public health seriously and plans to ban smoking at five of their most congested transit centers and bus stops. This means that smoking is prohibited within 25 feet of the boarding locations, but the city does intend to create designated smoking areas for those who want a quick cigarette before their trip. There will be a warning period, but after that police or transit officers will issue citations similar to parking tickets. This follows Raleigh’s action last year to ban smoking in public parks for fear of secondhand smoke within the communities. Read more at NewsObserver.

Dunkin Donuts is using the transportation industry as a new marketing tool in South Korea. To get people in the mood for coffee, they have begun scenting buses with the smell of Dunkin Donuts coffee.  The angle of this campaign is to have customers think of coffee every time they think of Dunkin Donuts. Dunkin Donuts has discovered that their donuts are outselling their coffee in South Korea, and this a technique is projected to boost coffee sales. Would you enjoy this on your morning commute? Read more at The Inquisitr.

In England, three design students at Royal College of Art (RCA) have created Canopy, a display system that would attach to the ceiling of a subway car. Each panel would have different digital landmarks displayed as the train passes by, giving the passengers a view of life above. This technology has a variety of uses, displaying landscapes and scenery but also advertisements, weather conditions and transit information. This concept was shown off at RCA’s annual summer show in London and has not yet been incorporated into any subway cars. Read more at CNET.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

West Library Park & Ride Closed July 29-Aug. 12

Port Authority’s West Library Park and Ride will be closed for approximately three weeks starting Sunday, July 29 in preparation for rail crossing replacement work scheduled for the first weekend in August.

The lot will close so that employees may conduct preparation for the work, store materials and equipment, and clean up after the project is completed. West Library Park and Ride is expected to reopen on Monday, August 13.

During the closure, commuters may use Library Park and Ride, located five minutes from the West Library lot. The Library Park and Ride typically has 100 empty spaces available on a weekday. Other alternate Park and Rides along the T include Bethel Park (Lytle) and South Hills Village Garage.
West Library Station will still be served by the T during the Park and Ride closure (with the exception of an August 3-6 detour due to crossing work) for any riders who walk to the station.

Details on the rail crossing work and detours will be released next week.

For more information, call Customer Service at 412-442-2000 or for TTY, 412-231-7007.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday Digest: July 20, 2012

Transportation funding is spent on everything from mass transit to building new bridges to painting the white lines on the side of the road. The Tri-State Transportation Campaign has a new report showing how each state allocates its federal transportation dollars. Read more at The Atlantic Cities.

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has announced they are once again selling advertising on their MetroCards. They have previously sold advertisements on the back of their cards, but now they welcoming ads on the front of the cards. They believe this will be a great marketing/PR tool, seeing as millions of New Yorkers carry these cards with them everyday and use them constantly. These ads would go in the space above the magnetic strip, and although prices have not been determined they are expected to charge a premium. Would you want to see advertisements on your Port Authority tickets? Read more at The Transit Wire.

This week, District of Columbia Department of Transportation (DDOT) announced a milestone in the development of a new tramway network. DDOT has awarded the contract for operation and maintenance for the first planned tramline in Washington, D.C. The line will be 2.2 miles long and include seven stations, serving the northeast part of D.C. It is expected to be running by the end of 2013. This is the first piece of D.C.’s transportation expansion into a new tramway system. Read more at Mass Transit Mag.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Wabash Tunnel Daytime Closures July 23 - August 10

The Wabash Tunnel will have daytime closures for three weeks due to scheduled inspections.

Tunnel inspections will occur from Monday, July 23 through Friday, August 10, each weekday from approximately 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. During these times the tunnel will be closed to all inbound and outbound traffic, with the exception of July 27.

Motorists who normally use the tunnel should seek alternate routes such as the Liberty Tunnels or Fort Pitt Tunnel.

For more information, visit or call Customer Service at 412-442-2000 or for TTY, 412-231-7007.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Red Line Detours This Sunday, July 22

Red Line T service will be detoured this Sunday due to scheduled rail maintenance. A portion of the inbound Red Line will be closed in Beechview from approximately 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday, July 22.

During this time, inbound Red Line service will serve regular route from South Hills Village to Overbrook Junction/Willow, then detour via the Blue Line’s routing until South Hills Junction, where it will resume regular routing to Station Square, Downtown and the North Shore.

Inbound local light rail shuttles will operate from Overbrook Junction to Potomac  Station, and inbound T stops from Potomac to South Hills Junction/Station Square will be served by bus shuttles. Shuttle stops will be located close to existing T stops. At South Hills Junction or Station Square, riders may transfer to bus or T for service toward Downtown.

Outbound Red Line service will not be affected by the work and will be regular route for all stops. Red Line riders may also ride outbound service to Overbrook Junction, then cross over to Willow for T service to Downtown.

Red Line riders should allow for extra time when traveling during the detour.

A map of the detour is posted below.

View Red Line Detour: July 22, 2012 in a larger map

For more information, call Customer Service at 412-442-2000 or for TTY, 412-231-7007.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Planning and Development Meeting Canceled

Port Authority of Allegheny County's Board of Directors has canceled its Planning and Development Committee meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. on Wednesday, July 18.

The Performance Oversight Committee meeting will still be held Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. in the Neal H. Holmes Board Room, 345 Sixth Ave., 5th Floor, in Downtown Pittsburgh.

Friday, July 13, 2012

UPDATE: Red Line Detours This Saturday; Sunday Detour Canceled

Red Line T service will be detoured Saturday approximately 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. due to scheduled rail maintenance. The detour scheduled for Sunday has been canceled.

On Saturday, the outbound Red Line will detour via Overbrook (along the Blue Line’s routing) from South Hills Junction to Willow/Overbrook Junction. Bus shuttles will provide outbound-only service to stops from South Hills Junction to Potomac and a local light rail shuttle will operate outbound from Potomac to Overbrook Junction. Inbound Red Line service will be regular route.

Red Line riders should allow for extra time when traveling during the detour.

A map of the detour is posted below:

View UPDATE: Red Line Detour: July 14, 2012 in a larger map

For more assistance, please dial Customer Service at 412-442-2000 or for TTY, 412-231-7007.

Friday Digest: July 13, 2012

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (DC) has received a state of the art track geometry vehicle. These vehicles have technology that examines the conditions of the tracks and will alert Metro about any problems and defects that may occur. There are many benefits to this technology, such as the ability to measure rail temperatures, perform rail flaw inspections and record video of track beds and temperatures. Also, they can perform some of these testing at speeds of 60 mph. The track geometry vehicle (TGV) was built specifically for Metro’s needs, and will be in full service later this year. Read more at "D.C. Metro unveils track geometry vehicle" from Metro Magazine.  

The MTA Metro-North Railroad is testing a new smartphone app that allows customers to display tickets on their phones. These electronic tickets are the next step in ticketing technology and will soon be used throughout the country. Metro-North employees will participate in the pilot program next month in which purchased tickets will show up on their phone’s screen with a bar code that the conductor can scan. The pilot program will allow for Metro-North to work out any glitches in the app and also see if this mobile ticketing is indeed faster than their current fare collection method. Learn more: "New Smartphone App Could Replace Railroad Tickets" at the Wall Street Journal Blog.

This week California has started testing their new real-time technology, which tells riders when the train will arrive at the station, if there are any delays, etc. This is made possible by GPS technology on the trains, which transmit information about the train’s speed and location. This information will be received at the commuter railroad’s control center and from there sent to the digital signs at the rail stations to inform riders. Once the system is fully installed, real-time information will be available on Caltrain’s website and via email and text message alerts. The system is said to be fully operational by the end of the year. Read "Caltrain testing out real-time arrival tracking system" from ABC to learn more.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Friday Digest: July 6, 2012

This week, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) announced a new energy project that captures brake energy and converts it into power for an electric grid. This optimizes and recycles energy which not only benefits the environment but minimizes the operating costs of SEPTA.. When the trains brake, that energy is converted into electricity that can be stored and used at a later time. When the cars perform this regenerative braking, the voltage increases on the trains. SEPTA will run a 3 month demonstration phase to gradually increase the voltage on the trains, making sure they can handle high voltages when they are subjected to it. This is the first energy saving technology to be used in the U.S. Read "SEPTA captures regenerative braking energy from trains" from Metro Magazine to learn more.

Utah is taking the green initiative and has ordered an electric bus from BYD Company Ltd, the largest all-electric bus manufacturer world-wide. This all-electric bus, purchased by the University of Utah, will make them the frontrunner of this technology that emits zero fossil fuels and greatly reduces pollution. Installed in the road will be a charger and it will be embedded in a way that no wires or parts protrude from the asphalt. (This way cars and snow plows will be able to drive over it) The bus will have a charging pad installed underneath it, so the bus will merely need to pull up to the charger for a few minutes and it will be recharged. This technology was developed by the Utah State University Energy Dynamics Lab and testing for this technology was made possible by a Federal Transit Administration grant. Read "U of U to Roll Out All Electric Transit Bus" from Salt Lake City Weekly.

Irish Rail took on a new meaning when it assisted in returning a lost dog to its owner. In Kildare, Ireland, a dog went missing because it boarded a commuter rail train. Arriving solo in Dublin, the Irish Rail tweeted a lost dog message along with a picture. Thanks to the powers of Twitter, within half an hour the owner of the lost Jack Russell terrier was identified. After Patch was returned to his owner he became a mini celebrity, and now has his own Twitter account. This was not the first time the Irish Rail has used social media to recover lost animals; a few years ago they helped out a lost cat too. Learn more about the rescue: "Patch Come Home" from Independent News.

Would you want your secrets announced for everyone to hear? Some people in Toronto don’t mind spilling their guts. As part of a new art project called Confessions Underground people volunteered to tell their secrets on camera, which will be made into a video that plays in every subway station throughout Toronto. This new campaign is aimed to make the morning commute more interesting and connect with riders on a more emotional level. The video will be shown daily between July 2-15. Read more: "Secrets spilled on Toronto subway screens" from CBC News.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Fourth of July Holiday Service Information

Port Authority's bus, T and incline service will operate on holiday schedules on Wednesday, July 4th.

For bus routes, holiday schedules are included on printed/online schedules. If a bus route does not operate on Sundays, it does not operate on major holidays such as Independence Day.

T routes will follow special holiday schedules this July 4th, including service on Blue Line-South Hills Village. View PDF schedules for:

Red Line (also includes Blue-SHV information)

Blue Line South Hills Village/Blue Line-Library

The Customer Service phone line will hold holiday hours, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and the Downtown Service Center will be closed Wednesday in observance of the holiday. Port Authority's Twitter account will not be staffed on July 4th.

For assistance, call Customer Service at (412) 442-2000 or for TTY, (412) 231-7007.