Monday, September 20, 2010

Bus Rapid Transit Discussed

A forum held in Uptown on Monday focused on bringing Bus Rapid Transit to Allegheny County.

Bus Rapid Transit Systems are like rail services – but with buses. Similar to the region’s existing busways, they would consist of a dedicated traffic lane devoted to a bus line with ticket stations where riders can purchase tickets prior to riding the bus. Different community groups are collaborating with the Port Authority to bring the system here.

Monday’s forum featured speakers from cities where the system has been implemented such as Cleveland, Kansas City and Los Angeles. Proponents of Bus Rapid Transit say they can be implemented quicker and utilizing less money and resources than building a rail line – not taking into account rising gas prices.

Stephen Bland, CEO of the Port Authority of Allegheny County says based on reports from other cities it would improve transportation options for riders – who wouldn’t be delayed by regular city traffic and would have more reliable service. He said in general it would improve quality of life in the region.

"Obviously any kind of increase in transit ridership decreases our reliance on automobiles so you have less traffic congestion," he said.

Although the Port Authority plans to eliminate thirty five percent of public transit service in January, Bland says the costs for a rapid bus transit plan would be built into The Port Authority Service Development Plan and the biggest investment would be operating the service for the long run.

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