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Unlocking the Potential of Pittsburgh's Busways

Transit experts want to optimize the benefits of the biggest network of separated busways in the country.
April 15, 2019, 8am PDT | Elana Eden
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Port Authority Bus
Robert Pernell

Rather than building light rail, highways, or hyperloops, some advocates want Pittsburgh to look to its extensive busway system as a means to ease traffic, reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, and improve access to jobs.

Speaking to experts on transit and economic development, Ryan Deto recommends three basic strategies to expand the benefits of Pittsburgh's existing system.

  • Rebrand: Pittsburgh busways were originally named for colors, and the article suggests returning to this system. Currently, lines are named for the directions they take: South Busway, East Busway, and so forth.

  • Improve accessibility: Many stations are hostile to pedestrians and people with disabilities, Deto writes. Better ingress and street-facing design could improve visibility and use of the stations.

  • Encourage transit-oriented development: Deto points to studies suggesting that mixed-use development around busway stations could reduce poverty by providing access to jobs. Port Authority, which manages Pittsburgh buses, offers TOD guidelines, but they are not mandatory.

Advocates are pushing for a busway vision before potential changes to state and federal transit funding in 2022, when funding from the Turnpike Commission expires. A more thorough set of suggestions for Pittsburgh's busway network is explored in the article.

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Published on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 in Pittsburgh City Paper
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