Pittsburgh Regional Transit executed a grant agreement with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the final step of securing all federal funding for the Downtown-Uptown-Oakland Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project.
The FTA announced in 2020 it would allocate the funding for the project, and has since then developed, reviewed, and approved the grant that was awarded today.
The $150 million grant means the project has all funding in-hand to construct the $291 million system, which will provide more reliable, convenient, and faster service with improved amenities, safety features, and transit connections in downtown Pittsburgh, Uptown, and Oakland.
“The Downtown-Uptown-Oakland BRT line will improve transit speed and reliability on one of the highest transit ridership corridors in Pittsburgh,” said FTA Deputy Administrator Veronica Vanterpool, who joined PRT and local officials at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center to announce the grant award. “We are pleased to support this project that will better connect communities to jobs and education.”
Pittsburgh Regional Transit’s BRT Line
The BRT line — dubbed The University Line — will include 23 new stations, exclusive transit-only and bicycle lanes, intersection improvements, accessible ramps, and more.
PRT serves more than 30,000 people a day in the Downtown-Uptown-Oakland corridor, connecting the second- and third-largest job centers in Pennsylvania, and five universities — University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, Duquesne University, Point Park University, and Carlow University.
The infrastructure upgrades will improve safety, speed, and efficiency of the buses that operate within the corridor and provide riders with more amenities at each station, like benches, ticket vending machines, increased lighting, and security.
The University Line will improve transit service reliability, reduce bus bunching, and will allow PRT to redeploy the hours saved elsewhere in the county. The University Line is also expected to help spur development and create additional residential and business opportunities.
“I want to thank all of our partners who for years have worked to ensure this project remained a priority,” said PRT CEO Katharine Kelleman. “This project represents a tremendous investment in our neighborhoods, one that will serve to improve the lives of thousands of riders who travel within this corridor every day. Modern cities demand world-class transit systems that move people, connect communities, and drive vitality, and I’m proud to have helped make this project a reality.”
Funding the University Line
In addition to the $150 million grant from the FTA, The University Line is being funded through the American Rescue Plan ($19.3 million), the Congestion Mitigation Air Quality Program ($9.3 million), Allegheny County ($30 million), the City of Pittsburgh ($8.8 million), and PRT ($73.6 million).
“We are thankful to have the PRT direct meaningful regional investments in our neighborhoods. Their work to provide accessibility and connectivity within our community’s bridges gaps that exist between our core needs of housing, jobs, culture and the arts. When we collectively enable access to affordable and quality housing and jobs, we create environments where people can thrive,” said Susheela Nemani-Stanger, executive director of Pittsburgh’s Urban Redevelopment Authority. “This project removes obstacles, and we are pleased to play a role in its completion.”
In March, PRT’s board approved a $28 million contract with Independence Excavating Inc. for the first phase of construction in downtown Pittsburgh. Construction is expected to begin this fall.