Finally, a Faster Way From Pittsburgh to Oakland and Beyond

A proposed route for new electric buses will connect 30,000 people throughout 24 neighborhoods.

photo via flickr creative commons


The Allegheny County Port Authority plans to build a Bus Rapid Transit route from Downtown to Oakland that will cut your daily commute during rush hour from more than a half an hour to 10 minutes or less.

Yes, you read that correctly.

This may sound too good to be true to those Pittsburghers who make the daily commute in rush hour in car and bus alike, but with the help of environmentally friendly electric buses, designated bus lanes and BRT signal priority traffic lights, this vision can be made a reality.

From Oakland, the route will continue to East Liberty, Homewood and Wilkinsburg, as well as branch off to Squirrel Hill and Highland Park. When completed, the bus route will connect 30,000 people in 24 neighborhoods.

The project would include the addition of designated lanes for the BRT buses on Forbes and Fifth avenues and new stations, with buses arriving around every five minutes at most locations. The branches of the route will not have bus lanes. They will, however, include smart signals with BRT signal priority that will permit the buses to pass through traffic lights first before standard traffic with the use of technology inside the buses and space for buses to pull up next to traffic at an intersection.

The estimated cost of the project is $233 million. According to Adam Brandolph, a Port Authority spokesperson, they are currently preparing their application for funding from the federal government and they also hope to receive state and local funding, as well as funding from Small Starts, the Federal Transit Administration’s grant program.

The alternative option of extending the T, Pittsburgh’s light rail system, would cost an estimated $3 billion and could take 15 years to build. The BRT route is seemingly the best option to improve Pittsburghers’ commute time and frequency of bus service during rush hour.

Here are some things you can expect from the BRT project:

  • Electric-powered buses
  • Improved stations that include real-time arrival information and multiple fare options
  • Smarter parking management
  • Nearby bike and pedestrian amenities
  • Economic development opportunities
  • Visually appealing sidewalks on Forbes and Fifth avenues lined with trees and new light fixtures

“The Bus Rapid Transit project is expected to be a catalyst for growth throughout the East End even more so than we’ve seen, especially in the uptown neighborhoods, which need it so badly, so we’re excited and looking forward to this project moving forward,” says Brandolph.

The Port Authority plans to begin environmental review and early engineering work over the summer and begin construction within the next 16 months.

Categories: The 412