100th birthday wish – a bus stop – closer to reality for Mt. Pleasant woman
Anna Mae Gearhart’s birthday wish may come true.
When friends and family gathered at Gearhart’s Mt. Pleasant apartment complex Thursday to celebrate her 100th birthday, a milestone she will reach on Saturday, she proudly claimed that one gift she’s awaiting is a bus stop near her home.
It’s a gift she has sought for the last several years.
“I do want to take a bus ride this fall to Johnstown to see all the leaves, like we used to,” Gearhart said.
She, along with officials at the Ridgeview Apartments and Mt. Pleasant Mayor Gerald Lucia have been lobbying for a new Westmoreland County Transit Authority bus stop in front of the apartment complex near Church Street.
Lucia said he expects the new stop to be unveiled in the next several months after Mt. Pleasant officials recently completed a year-long effort to install two stop signs on Church Street — requirement from the authority before a new bus stop could be installed.
“People here have to walk across Church Street to get the bus and it’s really dangerous,” Lucia said. “If we don’t get a bus here, I will bring all these people to a commissioners meeting to demand one.”
Michelle Shurick, senior service coordinator at the Ridgeview Aparments, said many of the complexes 62 residents use the bus to travel. The closest stop is several blocks away and up a hill, she said.
“We need it. There’s no reason they can’t come in here,” Shurick said.
The transit authority currently operates two bus routes that travel through Mt. Pleasant Borough. Authority Executive Director Alan Blahovec said the authority has for the last several years been weighing the potential for a bus stop at Gearhart’s apartment complex.
With the stop sign requirement now fulfilled, Blahovec said officials will travel to Mt. Pleasant after a road construction project on Main Street is completed at the end of September to survey the possibility for the new bus stop.
“It makes sense because we know people will use it. We want to get as close to them as we can,” Blahovec said.
Officials will have to determine if the buses that operate in Mt. Pleasant can navigate the road near Gearhart’s apartment building. Scheduling issues involved with adding an additional stop will also have to be worked out, Blahovec said.
Gearhart, who has lived in Mt. Pleasant for the last century, once used the bus three or four times a week to travel to the mall or into Pittsburgh for lunch. Although her travel has been reduced to about once a week now, she said she’d like to be able to take the bus more frequently. A bus stop closer to home could make that wish easier to accomplish.
“We’re older people here, and it’s too dangerous to cross the street,” Gearhart said.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293 or [email protected]