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Get There PGH advancing bus rapid transit, to hold public information meeting Thursday

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) could someday link Downtown Pittsburgh and Oakland, greatly improving the connection between these two important centers of commerce and employment.  Get There PGH, a partnership of over 30 neighborhood organizations, is advancing a plan for this transit initiative, and will host an informational public meeting throughout the day on Thursday, January 12th.

Of the 30-plus organizations, Sustainable Pittsburgh is acting as a convener in bringing the exploration of BRT to the community. 

Executive Director Court Gould says this evaluation of BRT is at the earliest stage, and Get There PGH seeks to learn whether it fits with community visions and needs, and how it could facilitate not only mobility, but prosperity, public health, and revitalization, among other issues.

“The stakeholders…are viewing the bus rapid transit as part of a larger community vision interest and need, not as an isolated transportation project,” Gould says.

BRT is a form of bus transit that operates more similar to a rail system, with dedicated stations, route priority, and platform fare collection, among other efficiency measures.  And while BRT shares design principals with rail transit, it is also far less expensive to implement.

An Alternatives Analysis and Environmental Assessment, to determine whether BRT would work in Pittsburgh, began last year.  The upcoming public information session is the first in a series as part of that study.

Supporters of BRT cite economic growth and neighborhood development along corridors as benefits of the transit mode, along with safer streets, and improved mobility for city residents and visitors. 

Gould says BRT differs from the Port Authority’s current East-West busways, noting rapid is a reference to efficiency of service and not high traveling speeds.  He says the region’s busways were innovative in their time, but that cities nationally and abroad have gone forward and applied those same attributes to on-street systems, rather than segregated facilities.

“So this would be Pittsburgh now coming full-circle to catching up with the trend that in some ways it was a pioneer of, but with a new twist,” Gould says.

Among its stakeholders Get There PGH includes the City of Pittsburgh, Port Authority of Allegheny County, Allegheny Conference on Community Development, local universities, and Bike Pittsburgh.

The information sessions will be held tomorrow, during two sessions, 12 p.m. to 2 p.m., and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the University of Pittsburgh Alumni Hall Ballroom, 4227 Fifth Ave. in Oakland.

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Court Gould, Sustainable Pittsburgh; Scott Bricker, Bike Pittsburgh
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