Aug. 12--Riders on some of Port Authority's most crowded buses will get relief this month when changes are made to 22 routes, several of which will get more frequent service.
Many of the changes that will take effect Aug. 31 are designed to ease overcrowding that has persisted since March 2011, when the transit agency cut service by 15 percent to balance its budget, spokesman Jim Ritchie said.
The transportation funding legislation that was approved last fall by the Legislature and Gov. Tom Corbett has enabled the authority to add trips to address some of the most severe conditions. Also among the changes are extensions of two routes.
On the 51 Carrick route, one of the most crowded, the authority is adding 11 weekday trips, 18 Saturday trips and two Sunday trips. The extra weekday service will be focused on morning and evening peak periods. Riders of that route have dealt with buses that were so crowded at times that drivers were passing Downtown stops without picking them up.
Extra peak service also will be added to the 51L Carrick Limited, and the entire schedule of the 48 Arlington route will be adjusted to create better spacing with 51 Carrick trips.
Midday service will be increased on four routes that travel on Forbes Avenue through Oakland. The 61A North Braddock, 61B Braddock-Swissvale, 61C McKeesport-Homestead and 61D Murray will operate every 20 minutes rather than every half hour. Weekend trips also will be added on those routes. According to Mr. Ritchie, the four routes combined will have 38 more trips on weekdays, 56 more on Saturdays and 62 more on Sundays.
Most trips on the 75 Ellsworth route will be extended from the current terminus at Bakery Square in Larimer through Morningside to the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, Aspinwall and Waterworks Mall, with greater service frequency. At the same time, 71B Highland Park buses will no longer serve the mall, ending their trips at Bunkerhill and North St. Clair streets.
Mr. Ritchie said residents had sought better service to the mall, which currently is served by every third trip on the 71B. The authority hopes the changes also improve the poor 58 percent on-time performance of the 71B and ease crowding on the route. The reconfiguration also provides direct service from Morningside and Larimer to Shadyside, Oakland and SouthSide Works via the 75 Ellsworth.
Also being extended is the 93 Lawrenceville-Oakland route, which will become 93 Lawrenceville-Hazelwood and serve Greenfield, Hazelwood and Glen Hazel, providing residents of those neighborhoods with direct connections to Schenley Park, Oakland, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and Lawrenceville.
Buses on the 93 route were moved from the East Liberty garage to the West Mifflin garage and already are passing through those neighborhoods, "so we're simply starting the route sooner to benefit riders and make better use of this on-road time," Mr. Ritchie said.
Two routes -- 8 Perrysville and O1 Ross Flyer -- will be rerouted in Downtown Pittsburgh to make way for conversion of eastbound Penn Avenue into bicycle-only lanes. The city is putting bike lanes on Penn from Stanwix to 11th streets. Buses that travel westbound on Penn will not be affected.
Other routes that will have schedule changes are 19L Emsworth Limited, 31 Bridgeville, 36 Banksville, 39 Brookline, 59 Mon Valley, 64 Lawrenceville-Waterfront, G31 Bridgeville Flyer, P1 East Busway-All Stops, Y1 Large Flyer and Y46 Elizabeth Flyer. Details including revised schedules will be available at portauthority.org.
Jon Schmitz: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1868 or on Twitter @pgtraffic.
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