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(Image courtesy Port Authority of Allegheny County)
Port Authority's recently appointed CEO, Katharine Eagan Kelleman, is scheduled to attend a public hearing at 6 p.m. tonight at the Palisades, corner of Fifth Avenue and Water Street, Downtown, to discuss the latest proposed changes to Mon Valley bus routes.
But the public response to the changes --- planned in conjunction with a proposed new Bus Rapid Transit loop between downtown Pittsburgh and Oakland --- have been "overwhelmingly positive," says Adam Brandolph, a spokesman for the transit agency.
Additional public meetings are planned May 14 in downtown Pittsburgh, May 17 in Pittsburgh's Uptown neighborhood, and May 22 and 24 in Oakland, Brandolph says.
The current proposal would preserve the frequency of 61 A, B and C routes that connect Mon Valley communities such as Braddock, Swissvale, Homestead, West Mifflin, Duquesne and McKeesport with downtown Pittsburgh via Oakland.
As originally designed, all 61 routes from the Mon Valley would have terminated in Oakland, where riders who wanted to continue into downtown Pittsburgh would have had to transfer to one of the BRT buses.
That proposal --- which would have cut the frequency of the 61C bus nearly in half --- was greeted with skepticism and hostility by local elected officials, transit advocates and ordinary bus riders.
"We are certainly listening to the community's wants and needs," Brandolph says. Under the new proposal, no 61 A, B or C passengers would have to transfer in Oakland "unless they want to," he says.
The BRT loop is designed to create dedicated bus lanes between the Golden Triangle and Oakland, with buses running on frequent schedules. Port Authority has said the existing bus service on that corridor is plagued by delays, congestion and overcrowding.
Under the new proposal, the 61 A, B and C buses would be designated as BRT buses, and would travel mainly on their current routes until reaching Oakland, where they would continue to downtown Pittsburgh on the BRT system.
Also to be designated as BRT buses would be the 71B to Highland Park and the P3 flyer to Wilkinsburg and Swissvale, which likewise would use their current routes to Oakland, where they would continue downtown on the BRT loop.
However, the 61D and 71 A, C and D buses would terminate in Oakland, and riders would have to transfer to a BRT bus to continue to downtown.
The new proposal preserves the frequency and scope of service for most Mon Valley and East End riders, Brandolph says, while also relieving congestion between downtown and Oakland.
Riders who are unable to attend any of the meetings may email comments to email@example.com, or send a letter to Port Authority of Allegheny County, 345 Sixth Ave., Third Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.
Upcoming meetings to discuss bus rapid transit:
Downtown Public Meeting
When: 2:30 p.m. May 14
Where: Lawrence Hall Room 200, Point Park University, 212 Wood St.
Uptown Public Meeting
When: 6 p.m. May 17
Where: Paramount Film Exchange, 544 Miltenberger St.
Oakland Public Meetings
When: 3 p.m. May 22
Where: University of Pittsburgh William Pitt Union Lower Lounge, University of Pittsburgh, 3959 Forbes Ave.
When: 6 p.m. May 24
Where: OPDC Career Center, 294 Semple St.
Originally published May 10, 2018.