Port Authority of Allegheny County plans transit schedule changes
The Port Authority of Allegheny County is adjusting schedules on 28 bus routes starting Sunday to help address overcrowding and slightly increase capacity, changes that some transit advocates say are insufficient.
Port Authority is adding weekday trips and making minor route changes, including a small adjustment on the 88 Penn to better serve Bakery Square and adding trips on the 91 Butler Street and East Busway.
“Four times a year, we can make these changes. We may put another bus here or there, but these are pretty minor,” said Port Authority CEO Ellen McLean. “We’re always evaluating routes.”
McLean said she’s aware of requests to add service in various areas but said Act 89 money — generated from the state’s new transportation law — was intended to shore up existing service and help with capital needs rather than pay for new routes.
State money from Act 89, generated through a higher wholesale gasoline tax, is funneled through PennDOT to transit agencies such as Port Authority and Philadelphia’s SEPTA.
“We have said to all transit agencies that the majority of the Act 89 funding is for capital needs, and they must be very careful to maintain balanced operating budgets,” said PennDOT spokesman Rich Kirkpatrick. “For Port Authority, which had operating fund issues prior to Act 89, they need to be especially careful in this regard.”
Transit advocates are pushing Port Authority to do more.
Molly Nichols, spokeswoman for Pittsburghers for Public Transit, said any service adds are a good thing, but the tweaks don’t go far enough.
“What about the people in transit deserts who are completely cut off?” said Nichols, whose group receives money from the nonprofit Pittsburgh Foundation and the Amalgamated Transit Union. “From our perspective, adding is a good thing. We’re pushing for more.”
Several groups have lobbied for more service, including Baldwin residents, Community College of Allegheny County branch campuses and Penn State Greater Allegheny in McKeesport.
Port Authority officials adjust schedules four times per year, with the next one coming in March. Details are available at portauthority.org.
Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886.