PG: Plan for Bus Rapid Transit system takes next step forward
How exciting — did everyone see that the city/county finally unveiled what looks like a totally legit plan for BRT today? Looks like dedicated bike lanes could live on Forbes. Especially love the artist rendering of how it would work through Uptown… (though the two people lugging what appears to be a giant amp across the street is a hilarious detail)
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I personally think this plan looks pretty fantastic.
My preferred alignment, and I think the City and Port Authority’s actually puts the bike lanes on Fifth Ave through Oakland.
It would have dedicated BRT lanes on Forbes (outbound) and Fifth (inbound), and turn the existing contra-flow bus lane on Fifth into a 2-way bike lane.
I’ve been advocating for starting the BRT service right now, using existing routing, and install the infrastructure and special rules later. I’m sure the fine people in Highland Park can figure out the difference between a 71A and a 71A-BRT, just as the fine people in Bridgeville have figured out the difference between a 31 and a G31. Put the service in place and start running it, and it will sell itself.
How do the current routes link in with the brt plan? Even with a simple liberty ave to cathedral of learning plan using fifth? Would the brt take people out of downtown, and then in Oakland people would hop on the 61 or 71 of their choice? Would you need a layover spot for these buses there and if so where?
As I understand it, existing routes would remain. There would simply be an express equivalent to each, that uses the same routing but only has five stops between, say, ELib and downtown. Even if that isn’t the final plan, that would be a fine way to get people on board with the idea. They wouldn’t have to do it with each of the 10 routes (61ABCD, 71ABCD, 67, 69), maybe just 71A and 61C as an example to start with. For 61 C-BRT, it would be exactly like a 61C beyond Forbes and Murray, then in from that stop only at CMU, Pitt (Atwood), Mercy (Stevenson), DuqU/Arena, then downtown. Otherwise get in the left lane and sail.
Got it. On the drawing of a fifth ave street scape it looks very narrow. Like a peds.bike lane, the brt, and then one other lane. The regular non brt buses would presumably use the regular lane and make traffic gridlock in Oakland worse as it backs up from uptown? That’s the piece I can’t figure out.
Are you guys referring to a more detailed description of the BRT than the one in the PG story? I don’t see anything in it that would indicate they are not planning a traditional BRT design, where passengers would transfer at Oakland from suburban buses to the BRT electric vehicles. The plan mentions air pollution and talks about electric vehicles reducing it. If they’re still planning on keeping the existing bus lines to downtown that would mitigate some of the benefit.
There will likely have to be a mix of BRT and non BRT buses on both Fifth and Forbes. Outbound Forbes sees for the most part your 61s and 71s. Once in Oakland, the 67 and 69 join the party (they travel on BOTA). Fifth is more complex, since at one point you have the 28X, P3, 81, 83, 54, 75, 93, 67 and 69, in addition to the 61s and 71s. Except for the 67 mad 69, these additional routes do not go past the Birmingham bridge. I can see the P3 being shortened to a terminus in North Oakland, or becoming the BRT route that goes to Wilkinsburg (and beyond). The 28X could use the BRT route, instead of using BOTA between Oakland and Downtown, or be routed via the Neville St ramp onto the East Busway. The 54, 75, 81, 83, and 93 would likely remain as they are. It would be silly to have these routes interrupted by the BRT (ie. forcing people to transfer to a BRT bus, and then have to transfer again less than 2 miles later)
there is a plan to have transfers in Oakland. They are not sure on a) fare structure and b) locations of the transfers. However they did indicate that they would like the transfers to take place in central oakland, somewhere between Bigelow and Craft.
They have figures on how many riders to downtown this will affect. Many of the riders will most likely switch to BRT. the ones that cant, many of the riders are currently exiting in Oakland anyway, the impact on them is negligible. At least what they told us.
One other positive that i saw was that since the BRT connects to the Wood St station, it links the T with the BRT (and ultimately the East Busway via Neville to points East), as opposed to now where the T is fairly disconnected to the East Busway. It also more effectively links the East busway to central Oakland. I hope that they praise these changes because this is really where it seems the benefits come to play for me.
For instance, I’m curious how much the commute time between say Mt Lebo to Oakland would change vs driving or the existing transit. Or between Uptown and East Liberty.
i should mention that they want to minimize the local buses on the BRT because the local buses will muck up the system, and the brt won’t be able to pass.
so, erok, if i’m reading you right, they will have more of a model in which more local buses dump off into the brt system in oakland, and then people can con’t on downtown. Such as the plan that was talked about originally in which northside people would be dumped off into the northshore t stops and then take the train into downtown?
I could see how the 67, 69, 58 (which I forgot about the first time around), and maybe the 81 and 83 could work out with a transfer to the BRT (albeit begrudgingly) , but the cross-town routes that don’t touch downtown (54, 75, 93) should not be split. And the 81 and 83, well, imagine if you’re telling residents of the Hill District that they have to take 2 or three buses to go to the South Side (or some points in Oakland). That will go over well.
More on the BRT. They will be transferring the 61 and 71 lines.
The PG editorial board weighs in. They like the BRT:
BTW, I talked with a friend of mine who knows about these things this weekend, and he said yes, this could really happen. Pieces have to fall together in the right way, but there is enough funding available. Getting the project to the current stage is a big deal; PAT was blocking it before.
Oh, and incidentally, PAT is firing their CEO: http://triblive.com/local/allegheny/11984793-74/board-ceo-contract
PAT site now has the plan up: http://www.portauthority.org/paac/CompanyInfoProjects/brt.aspx
And, there’s a public meeting: Wednesday, April 5 from noon to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Alumni Hall in Oakland.
There’s a public presentation Friday March 31 at 8 am at the William Pitt Union, room 540.
Hey everyone, be sure to check out the Port Authority’s BRT page and more importantly, take the survey. On the BRT page is a downloadable power point presentation, which when viewing it live was really good. I wish they would turn that into a website, but regardless there is still good info on there if you get thru it.
Lots of opportunity for input on this survey. Be prepared to set aside some time to write up comments.
Goes over proposed downtown routing, 2.possible Oakland routes w bikelane locations, as well as possible extensions into sq hill and highland park.
Unfortunately, the BRT website is pretty uninformative. The powerpoint that you can download is good, but it’s a powerpoint and should probably be a website and video. Going to that website you there is no big picture vision, you have no idea why they want to do this, what the pluses and minuses of options are, or even a solid explanation what Bus Rapid Transit is.
Like for instance, if you go into the powerpoint, you see things in an organized manner, and learn things that may be important to your decision making and survey taking.
@jonawebb, where did you see the information on a “public presentation Friday March 31 at 8 am at the William Pitt Union, room 540” ?
Most of the material I’ve seen references only the April 5 meetings at Alumni Hall, but I’ve also seen a reference in the Baum-Centre Initiative email list about a presentation this evening (TH 3/30) at Eastminster Presbyterian in East Liberty (Highland @ Station, across from Home Depot)….
@bb, I can’t find the reference. I’m guessing I saw on Twitter. The only thing on the Port Authority site is the April 5 meeting.
Appropriately enough, this was posted by OTMA about four hours after my question:
Public Service Announcement: BRT Presentation TOMORROW in Oakland… https://t.co/TsKakNA9Pu
— Oakland TMA (@OaklandTMA) March 30, 2017
And here’s info about the meeting at Eastminster PC this evening:
TODAY — share your input abt. new bus routes for the East End. 12-2 pm & 4-7 pm @ Eastminster Church pic.twitter.com/e2OMLCTxWa
— East Liberty (@EastLibertyPgh) March 30, 2017
I think it would be nice that if the 75-Ellsworth was made into three bus routes. 75S Oakland-Southside Wks, 75W Oakland-Waterworks via Shadyside/Morningside, and P75 Southside Wks-Waterworks Express Via Oakland BRT/East Busway/Washington Blvd.
- 75S will service from the current Southside Wks terminus to the Central Oakland BRT Station.
- 75W will service from the current terminus at Old Freeport Rd/Freeport Rd. to the Neville BRT Station along the current routing through Shadyside and Morningside.
- P75 will service from the current Southside Wks terminus to Neville St. Take the Neville St. ramp onto the Busway. Service Negley and E. Liberty Stations. Exit East Busway via MvPhearson St. Ramp, and take Washington Blvd to Highland Park Bridge and end up at the Current Old Freeport Rd/Freeport Rd terminus via Freeport Rd./Waterworks.
A route just from SSWorks to Oakland seems…unnecessary. Does anyone use that end of it, anyway? A route that went from Oakland to the South Side, then out to the Waterfront, on the other hand….
Since PAT are doing such an atrocious job communicating about their plans, I’ve seen people who suggest the plan is to cut all of the 61s and 71s in Oakland–and that if the Squirrel Hill branch is implemented, the 61s might be cut back to Forbes & Murray, so if you wanted to go from Oakland to the Waterfront, you’d have to take BRT out to Squirrel Hill, then transfer to a 64 on Murray.
(I don’t think that’s actually likely to be the plan–but it’s certainly plausible from the meagre information they’ve been providing.)
I take the 75 to get to the Southside Works Cinema pretty regularly. Coming from Squirrel Hill, it’s much quicker to transfer to the 75 in Oakland than to continue downtown and transfer to the 48. (I could instead take a 54, 81 or 83 from Oakland and walk half a mile, which I do when the 75’s timetable isn’t convenient, but it’s nice to have a bus that goes right there without adding 20 minutes to my trip.)
I’m one of those people who thinks the BRT plan proposes to cut off 61 and 71 service once it reaches Oakland. I base this on the PowerPoint on PAT’s website (see Erok’s link above), which gives estimates for the number of additional transfers required of riders under this plan (of 44,000 current riders, from 6700 to 3100 would be looking at an added transfer under the BRT plan).
See especially the slide “Effects of the BRT on Local Bus Routes”, which says pretty directly that all 61 and 71 routes that don’t become BRT routes will now end in Oakland, not downtown. (Only the 71A could become a BRT route, and only under some plans. The rest will simply end in Oakland.)
All these routes will also see fewer buses at peak times. Instead of 4/hour this will drop to between 2.2/hour and 3/hour. Also, distance between stops will be doubled on the non-BRT part (stops will be even farther apart in the BRT section) so riders will have a longer walk before they even get to the bus.
PAT claims peak travel times would be reduced on average by 11% to 18%. They include the time required for the added transfers (claiming it’ll be 5 minutes, which is at best only realistic inbound due to their proposed service frequency reductions — if your outbound bus leaves every 25 minutes now, as proposed, you’ll wait an average of 12.5 minutes, not 5). But they don’t include the time required for the longer walks, nor do they account for the lower service frequency that means you’ll be waiting longer for your bus. Both of these influence how early you have to leave to reach your destination by a set time, which is the essential metric most people care about. But they instead measure how long it takes you once you get on the bus, and say those numbers would be reduced slightly.
This looks to me like a possible service improvement for folks directly on the BRT route (though that’s not 100% clear), but a very likely service reduction for anyone now using a 61 or 71 to downtown from a point not directly on the BRT route (whichever one is chosen). They’d need to leave earlier after this change, to get downtown at the same time as before. Sorry, Regent Square, Duquesne, McKeesport, Homestead, Shadyside, etc. residents. Guess you should move to Uptown.
I imagine the 65 would probably get axed with the advent of BRT Squill <-> Downtown.
@Steven, your interpretation of the BRT presentation is the same as mine. However, none of the areas you mentioned in your last paragraph depend exclusively on the 61s and 71s to get to downtown, at least during rush hour. In fact, the other bus lines that connect these areas to downtown are all faster than the 61s and 71s. As an example, the P7 goes from Mckeesport to the Rankin Bridge along the same route as the 61C. It then covers parts of the 61B and 61A through Braddock, Rankin, Swissvale, Edgewood until it enters the East Busway in Wilkinsburg. So there are other, faster options in place. And whose to say a few trips couldn’t be added to those existing options?
As for non-rush hour and weekend options, yes, it seems there would be a decrease in service, and a transfer would likely be required. But again, it depends on how the 61s and 71s are used in terms of going between downtown and points beyond Oakland. I don’t ride these routes regularly during the week, so I don’t know how many passengers use them as such, but just today, I happened to board a 71C at the the East Liberty Target, a little before 10 am. Between there and Oakland, the bus got up to maybe 75% full seats. By Atwood, the bus had emptied and only picked up two other passengers between Oakland and downtown. This is of course purely anecdotal evidence (“I’ve never seen anyone use the bike lane!”) but maybe there’s some justification to having the local 61s and 71s terminate in Oakland? Depends on ridership data.
And @Ornoth, I don’t think the 65 would be axed. If anything, usage of it might increase depending on which BRT configuration is chosen
newest BRT — significant issue is where Paratransit can stop in the neighborhood.
article also gives a nice update as to where the project stands.
And has a sample map of the BRT system.
One question I have — with the proposed extensions to highland park and sq hill/greenfield, how will the BRT be able to run on the normal, very narrow roads, that are already there. They’d have to run on either Negley or Highland and also on Forbes and Murray. Those roads are already gridlocked during rush hour, especially in the evening, and even if the BRT gets preference at a traffic light, that won’t stop the Murray Ave journey from taking 10-15 min to get from Forbes to Forward. Though maybe when the Greenfield bridge opens again some of the Sq hill traffic will disappear.
The meeting is tomorrow.
WED. APRIL 5, 2017 PUBLIC MEETING Join the team at a public meeting to give your feedback and review the options on Wednesday, April 5 at the University of Pittsburgh Alumni Hall in Oakland There will be two sessions: 12 pm-2 pm and 4 pm-7 pm
PG article about the meeting for the BRT With usual troll facebook comments underneath.
At 12:50, there were three comments on the article, the third wondering where all the comments went.
Read about the history of Bus Rapid Transit. It got started in Curitiba, Brazil in 1974. BRT is a fraction of the cost of light rail. https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/may/26/curitiba-brazil-brt-transport-revolution-history-cities-50-buildings
BRT meetings in Pittsburgh began in 2012! http://bikepgh.org/message-board/topic/brt-public-meetings-start-today/ I wasn’t tuned in then. Why has it moved so slowly? Here it is 5 years later, and at today’s presentation, they’re talking about a system that wouldn’t start operating for 4 more years (2021) at the earliest.
BRT sounds quite smart to me; perhaps the closest thing to light rail that is pragmatic for the east end. At $200M to $240M, it’s a fraction of the cost of horrendous ideas like the Mon-Fayette Expressway extension, with far greater potential benefit.
The PG has a followup story about today’s meetings: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/transportation/2017/04/05/Public-will-get-two-chances-to-voice-opinion-about-Bus-Rapid-Transit-plans/stories/201704050149
Per the pg today the public overwhelmingly wants longer system.
Can’t find the article link right now.
Even if the brt costs $250m, just for perspective,the 279 redo will cost $100m. Southern beltway will be $700m. Pa turnpike widening in plum $217m.
But the trolls only get angry at the brt.
There is a lot of race and class anger mixed in here.
Even the “BRT costs $240m” line is a bit misleading. This project is the complete reconstruction of the public right of way – pavement, sidewalks, storm drainage, utilities, traffic signals – along six miles-worth of the most important streets connecting Oakland and Downtown, plus dedicated bus lanes within the existing curb limits.
If allowed to be done correctly (i.e. fully funded), these are improvements that will benefit all users as well as residents of the uptown and Oakland neighborhoods. No more busted sidewalks. No more bleak, treeless traffic sewers.
Oh, and it also provides cover for the largest and most important bike infrastructure project the city will ever do. After the massive and valiant struggle to get even marginal, fragmented bike lanes on Bayard and Forbes, it’s almost impossible to even fathom a standalone bike project that would promise to do what will essentially be snuck in under the cover of this BRT tent. It’s amazing. I’ve been afraid to say it out loud, frankly.
Yes, the return on investment should be much higher than the money we’re spending on the current penndot projects listed above. Not to mention intangible quality of life increases.
I hope stakeholders such as the Oakland universities and upmc use some political capital on this.
Also, the Cleveland roi has been amazing. Well over $100 in economic activity for each $1 spent by government.
Having grown up in Cleveland, I see a lot of parallels between chester-euclid-superior corridor and fifth-forbes. The Cleveland corridor is much longer and was much more destroyed pre brt than pgh, with little between CSU and the clinic in the old days. There’s a nice continuous stretch between Oakland and downtown that will be easily revitalized if done right and maybe the stretch between the Birmingham bridge and mages can be tamed and made more peds/bike friendly and thus more development friendly. The views there are beautiful. That section is currently terribly underused.
It would be nice if UPMC & the universities (Pitt CMU Carlow) would step up and sponsor free BRT between Oakland and town; like the Steelers and others did for free LRT between Northside and town. It would be a way for these nonprofits to contribute monetarily to the city while benefiting their organizations clients/patients/students directly. Win-win.
I also think charging any transfer fare, no matter how small, will be the hindrance of this project’s ultimate success & acceptance.
Pitt & CMU, and maybe some others, already pay for all transit (not just BRT) for all staff and faculty, countywide. (Students pay as part of their annual school fees, though probably at a discount, I don’t recall the details.)
UPMC, however, needs to get on board. One thought is they should reduce service on their shuttles during the day—if you work in the Oakland hospitals and park at the Butler St lots, for example, during the time the PAT 93 operates, take that instead. the 93 doesn’t run nights or weekends, though–but that’s perhaps a separate negotiation.
As for the actual current BRT proposal, I think the construction is critical and needs to happen, pending certain questions, but I think the service alterations, particularly forcing thousands of people a day to transfer on the sidewalks of Oakland, are a very poor idea.
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