May 2, 2013

Pittsburgh Port Authority honored for BRT system

Port Authority of Allegheny County received recognition from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), which designated the Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway as one of the nation’s highest quality bus rapid transit systems.

ITDP named the East Busway as one of only five systems in the U.S. that meets its BRT Standard, a defining and scoring designation for bus rapid transit (BRT). Port Authority’s East Busway was awarded the Bronze Standard, out of basic BRT, bronze, silver or gold designations.

“Pittsburgh has three of the seven true BRT corridors in the United States,” said ITDP CEO Walter Hook. “Despite the increasing prevalence, prominence and success of BRT systems, many people remain unaware of the characteristics of the best BRT systems and their potential to provide levels of service typically associated with metro and subway systems. Pittsburgh is a great example of what can be accomplished with a proper BRT, and our hope is that more cities will adopt this cutting-edge form of mass transit.”

Port Authority’s East Busway spans nine miles, serving about 25,000 riders daily. It offers service on 15 routes from nine stations. The original segment of the busway opened in February 1983 between downtown Pittsburgh and Edgewood. In 2003, it was extended an additional 2.3 miles. The routes along the busway operate a minimum of five days a week, with routes utilizing the busway as well, which allows a bypass of the heavily congested Parkway East, making for faster trip times.

“The recognition of the Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway by ITDP is extremely rewarding,” said Allegheny County Executive Fitzgerald. “This busway serves a vibrant corridor that includes Shadyside, East Liberty and Wilkinsburg. It reflects what a great success that BRT is and underscores the possibilities for BRT in other areas, including service to the Downtown-Uptown-Oakland corridor. These efforts have been proven to support economic development activity, foster residential growth and bring about other community benefits.”

More than 40 organizations have called on the Port Authority to assess the potential benefits of bus rapid transit in that corridor, which links the state’s second- and third-largest job centers. As part of an effort called GetTherePGH, these organizations are studying how bus rapid transit might boost this corridor and areas beyond.

In addition to the East Busway, busways in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Eugene, Ore., also received Bronze Standards. Only Cleveland’s Health Line received a Silver Standard. The local BRT Stakeholders Advisory Group is planning a visit in the next few months to visit Cleveland’s Health Line.

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