In a city and surrounding region with numerous geographic, demographic and infrastructure challenges, Pittsburgh already benefits from a regional bus network but one that is uncoordinated and unidentifiable as a cohesive network. Six public transportation providers operate regularly-scheduled, fixed-route bus service from five counties adjacent or nearby to Allegheny County. Another originates in West Virginia, while others from outlying counties provide less-frequent but just as essential connections to medical centers, employment areas and college or university campuses in the Pittsburgh region. If people knew about these options, they would take them.
These systems operate independently of each other, although many of the routes take advantage of busway infrastructure owned and maintained by the Port Authority of Allegheny County to offer congestion-free routes into downtown Pittsburgh. There is no unifying display of information – most notably a map or timetables – that explains and promotes the availability of these regional services. At the same time, there are few timed connections between routes of the various systems and no regional bus network fare structure.
Our idea is to create a brand, identity and informational resources corresponding with a regional bus network for Pittsburgh and nearby counties, presenting the various operators as part of the same system, which will build awareness of previously unknown options for travelers and make it easy to navigate throughout the entire region. As part of this project, CTAA will organize its partners to develop and promote a long-term strategy to improve connectivity between these services, with an eye towards increased usability for customers through integrated fare platforms, coordinated schedule times and locations and greater service frequency.
This approach will leverage latent mobility assets and improvement efforts already in existence – including the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission’s CommuteInfo resources at http://www.commuteinfo.org – to provide seamless connections for riders among communities. It will enhance the region’s identity as a welcoming place of collaborative neighbors and provide intuitive resources to allow both residents and visitors to fully access all of the area’s opportunities and benefits. This idea is built upon the experience of Oregon’s Northwest Connector project (http://www.nworegontransit.org/).