The Port Authority has approved a $1 million study of a rapid bus line between Downtown and Oakland. PB Americas Inc. will perform the study, which includes an environmental assessment, route alternatives, and general economic impact on communities in the corridor.
Bus rapid transit (BRT) is a bus service similar to light rail, with fewer stops and higher frequency of service. Because no rail lines are required to run the line, developing BRT is considerably less expensive than light rail.
Jim Ritchie, Port Authority spokesperson, cites Allegheny County's naming last year of the stretch between Downtown and Oakland as the number one transportation corridor in the county. He says this study is the Port Authority's attempt to follow up on investments being made by the city and the county to trigger growth in communities along the corridor.
"The far bigger piece is this community revitalization that's envisioned for this three mile stretch," Ritchie says. "There is something much bigger going on here."
In other cities, BRT has been credited with spurring billions in economic development along its routes. Local officials would hope for similar results if this line is developed.
The study is expected to take 12 to 18 months to complete, determining a preferred alignment along Fifth and Forbes Avenues. The study is being funded with approximately $840,000 in federal planning money and with $210,000 coming from Allegheny County.
Ritchie says all major institutions in the corridor are supportive of the BRT service, including the major universities and hospitals in the area.
Downtown is currently linked by the East and West Busways, which connect eastern communities such as Swissvale, Wilkinsburg and Homewood, and west to Carnegie, with the Golden Triangle.
Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Jim Ritchie, Port Authority