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tooluther

T Extention to the airport

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The new "Conextions" newsletter put out by PAT lays out the case for just extending the T to the north side to save costs (and cutting the convention center station)...in doing so they show a rough routing of what the line to the airport will look like (in a hundred years I guess)

Conextions Winter 2005

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I've always been a huge fan of an airport link to the T, though in recent months you all have convinced me that capturing the hearts and minds of the teens and 20 somethings in Oakland with the Universities is more important then the occasional business traveler to PIT. Both routes are important though.

My biggest surprise at this route is that it would create a whole new "airport corridor" far north of the Parkway west. That could add to the critical mass out there making places like the Rocks and Kennedy Twp. vital again!

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Though I'd certainly like to see a T connection to the Airport eventually... I would rather see the T service the people who live in Pittsburgh... instead of travelers using the airport. I think it should be a higher priority to connect the neighborhoods of the city. As it is... the T barely services anyone who lives in the city (a few stops in Beechview and the limited Allentown loop)... it's primarily a system for suburbanites from the south hills to go to work downtown. (which isn't a bad thing esp. considering there are no limited access highways in the south hills) I feel that the North Shore connector is geared towards suburbanites as well. Though it does have the potential to connect more north side neighborhoods (and apparently the airport as well)... it seems to me that it is more show than function... it's goal to bring T riders from Bethel Park to Pirate games. The whole T system is too suburban-oriented. The densely populated city hoods should be the priority. Take a look at Cleveland's system... much of the city is serviced by rail transit. That's one area where Cleveland destroys us.

Instead of north... and especially the rather sparsely populated west... I'd like to see the T move east... connect Bloomfield, Lawrenceville, Garfield, E. Liberty, Highland Park, Oakland, Point Breeze, etc to the network.

I know my wish would take an extreme amount of money... but how did we build transit systems before? Aren't we the "richest society" in the world right now? But of course... we allocate that money to the ephemeral dreams of suburbia. The sky is the limit when it comes to building super-highways and on-ramps and interchanges the size of Altoona... but any plan for mass transit is seen as a pipe dream due to lack of funds.

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Evergrey . . . great points!

I have to had it to you it's been an eternity since I've heard someone say "Cleveland destroys us" :D !

There is a theory out there that they are keeping the T crime free (or virtually) b/c it is NOT going through the urban hoods but instead focusing on the white collar workers looking for an alternative to commuting. Don't know how true that might be but the "busways" could most easily be turned into dedicated light rail for not much cost (biggest expense in many of these things is buying the overpriced real estate and then putting down the infrastructure much of which already exists on the busways). I would love for an uptown route to Oakland, I know O'Connor recently touted the street car or cable car idea for intra-Oakland, although I like it, why not just extend the T to the Universities?

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I agree. The airport extension is pretty useless. I can't imagine that many riders wanting to take the T to the airport, especially given how much of the rest of the system serves the suburbs. People from Bethel Park would rather drive to the airport than go on a 2 hour T ride.

One problem with a Downtown-Oakland routing, however, is funding. The federal govt. (and I believe the state) already gave huge sums for the East Busway. Good luck in getting them to give out even more money for a LRT extension along what is basically the same corridor. Similarly, I think an airport extension is likewise doomed b/c of the West Busway. I know that the same argument could have been made for the LRT and the South Busway but they somehow managed to eek that one out (at least the 42 line doesn't go through the same neighborhoods). By contrast, the current plan for an Oakland extension is to have the LRT go up the East Busway, meaning that it would be exactly parallel.

As for Cleveland vs. Pittsburgh, I don't know if Cleveland is necessarily that much better in the rapid transit department. True, their RT is easily more extensive than the T. However, Pittsburgh does have a form of rapid transit - the busways. Yes, they aren't as "sexy" as the RT (if the RT can even be called that ;-) ). However, they do funnel large numbers of passengers rather rapidly from Point A to Point B. Also, they are more versatile since the vehicles that travel along these express lines can go on local roads. In fact, perhaps a better plan would have been to further develop the busway system and then run the busses underground in Downtown much like they do in Seattle. Saettle has a bus subway (built for later coversion to light rail) complete with subway stations. They just don't have the busways. Meanwhile, Pgh has the busways but the busses get clogged up downtown b/c they can't go into the subway. Combine the two and, voila, you've got a pretty good rapid transit system.

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That is a fantastic idea about the Seattle underground, but alas the funding issue gets sticky. Being a student of politics what we really need is a Bud Shuster type that gets seniority on some subway subcommittee on the Hill and has rapid transit funds shipped back by the boat load. Sorry to sound so crass about it but thats how things like the "Big Dig" and the FBI's slow ozzing west into Sen. Byrd's state get done quick and effectively in this country.

As far as the airport link I would encourage all to revisit it, I have come down more for the universities link-up as a priority, but if you consider the conventioneers, out-of-town visitors, event attendees (BassMaster, ASG, NHL ASG, NCAA Regionals, the possible 2008 DNC convention), as well as how many professionals go first to their office downtown then to the airport, an airport link is to me a close second to the universities.

The airport link also has a way of influencing more conventions to the city (an added way to get your people from downtown to the airport), increasing the convention biz and possibly the euro-flights as well as increased domestic traffic, nothing would force a JetBlue to Pittsburgh faster then a secured DNC convention or a winter olympics etc.

I recall when Hong Kong built it's new "super hub" airport (much like Pittsburgh a decade before) one of the first things it did was link it to the subway system in the city--that was essential to the success of the airport as well as increasing the ROI of the airport for HK.

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You must also consider the powerful taxi lobby... they make a ton of money from the airport route... they will fight tooth and nail against a T extension.

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That is very true, but are they really THAT powerful? Then again in the fiefdoms that make this metro up anything is possible :D

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I recall when Hong Kong built it's new "super hub" airport (much like Pittsburgh a decade before) one of the first things it did was link it to the subway system in the city--that was essential to the success of the airport as well as increasing the ROI of the airport for HK.

One difference with HK, however, is that HK has a very very very dense city center, thus making a city center to airport rail line very feasible since its essentially point to point. By contrast, too much of Pittsburgh's population (and potential airport rail users) live spread throughout the suburbs, thus making driving a more feasible form of transportation.

All that said, quite a few US cities have rail services linking their downtowns to their airports. NYC, Boston, Philly, Baltimore, DC, Atlanta, Cleveland, Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas, Portland, and San Francisco come to mind. So it would only make sense for Pgh to have one too.

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Saettle has a bus subway (built for later coversion to light rail) complete with subway stations.

Conversion under progress as we speak.

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Urban sounds like you have reconsidered on the Airport line :)

If I got my wish it would be the University line, but the airport line is a close second, I think those cities you listed have a leg up with convention planners and corporate planners because they have a dedicated mass transit line in addition to bus and taxi service.

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A 'T' extension to Oakland would be great but, frankly, this whole discussion is kind of moot. Sure the Port Authority has laid out a route for the subway to go to the airport, but it won't happen any time soon.

Pittsburgh is quite fortunate to get federal money for the North Shore connector. It'll probably be eons before the gov't gives us any more money for transit. They seem to throw money at some cities, but generally ignore us.

However, I am happy about the North Shore connector. That area is rapidly becoming a part of Downtown. Everyone keeps saying the new extension will only serve the stadiums, but I do not agree. There are two new office buildings over there, and more offices and housing planned. Plus the riverfront park, museums, and the aviary. The T extension will make that neighborhood more a part of Downtown. It will also be great for tourists, since now Station Square, Downtown and the North Shore will all be connected.

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By contrast, the current plan for an Oakland extension is to have the LRT go up the East Busway, meaning that it would be exactly parallel.

They wouldn't run parallel, the east busway is built at LRT grade. It can be ripped up and turned into a light rail line...but that would be stupid because it bypasses the strip district which I think is in dire need of the T

Pittsburgh does have a form of rapid transit - the busways. Yes, they aren't as "sexy" as the RT (if the RT can even be called that ;-) ). However, they do funnel large numbers of passengers rather rapidly from Point A to Point B. Also, they are more versatile since the vehicles that travel along these express lines can go on local roads. In fact, perhaps a better plan would have been to further develop the busway system and then run the busses underground in Downtown much like they do in Seattle.

Busses are still busses. They are loud, small, and they spew exhaust. The east and west busways were just a way to provide transit to "low class" communities without spending all the money they did to provide light rail to Mt. Lebanon and USC...also, I don't think the busses need to go underground downtown (although that would be nice) they just need to stay on a perimeter loop. Something to the extent of Blvd of the allies-stanwix-ft. duq.-grant...this should happen NOW regardless of future plans. NO BUSSES IN MARKET SQUARE (or on 5th, forbes, liberty, or penn for that matter they are killing redevelopment)

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Yeah Market Sq. at some points during the day resembles a bus depot :(.

As far as the Oakland link being moot? Hasn't O'Connor been pushing for street/cable cars in Oakland possibly linking with the T, why not just make them the T to begin with?

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The idea of the street car is that it would cost a fraction of a "true" light rail system. It would run on the streets and the only major construction would be to dig down 11 inches into the pavement and lay tracks. The light rail proposal would either run via the eat busway and then into oakland, along second ave to the technology park and then to oakland proper, or underground through the hill district. All of those would probably require major constrction.

however, I don't see why the two systems could not be compatible. That way the street cars could stay underground downtown as not to clog up the streets more. The PCC cars did it for a while before they closed the Drake line, back in the day.

A lot of people laughed and vilified the street car idea. I think it would be awesome and could be expanded to places like the south side and lawrencville...the street cars would run intra-city and the T would run to the suburbs and the airport etc.

There realy needs to be a master transportation plan layed out for the region and then followed rather than just mini studies done for each area.

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They wouldn't run parallel, the east busway is built at LRT grade. It can be ripped up and turned into a light rail line...but that would be stupid because it bypasses the strip district which I think is in dire need of the T

Busses are still busses. They are loud, small, and they spew exhaust.

Those kind of busses can't go in tunnels, unless you spend a fortune on exhaust systems. The bus tunnel in Seattle used reticulated trolley busses; in other words they are relatively quiet, big, and spew nothing. Plus there is the better cost and flexability of busses.

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I keep hearing that PAT is working on some kind of big master-plan for local transit for the whole county. I wonder if that is progressing and whether anything will come of it.

I do hate hearing so many good idea and then seeing nothing come of them. Wish I had a buck for every time I hear a good plan for commuter rail. But someone's got to pay for it - guess that is why most plans do not wind up happening.

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Honestly, as soon as the T opend in the 80s, PAT should have announced that in the 90s or later, we would have both a link the airport and an eastern route, to Oakland, the East end and even the eastern burbs.

The airport and city areas (especially Oakland) are a given.

However, the airport route should have limited stops and more faster than the South Hills snailride.

Imagine this though, now they can plan to build mixed use T stops with housing (in addition to parking lots - in fact no lots, only garages).

Now, sadly, it will probably take 20 years, since this isn't even in the pipeline (correct me if I am wrong, but drawing a transit line and starting the process to secure money are two different things).

I do recall (maybe in 05?) a T route to Oakland via 2nd Ave 9departing from Firstside). Seems like a realitvely easy and painless way to get there.... I would prefer a Forbes (or Fifth) line stopping at Duquesne/Mercy, but it's a start.

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My biggest regret will be this summer, a few years ago wasn't the northshore extension to be completed or near completion in time for the proposed ASG. Have they even started digging yet? Sad.

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Pittsburgh is quite fortunate to get federal money for the North Shore connector. It'll probably be eons before the gov't gives us any more money for transit. They seem to throw money at some cities, but generally ignore us.

I don't know about that. Alot of those cities with extensive (compared to the T) LRT systems got those because they sacrificed highway miles. Portland did that and that's why their LRT system (Portland MAX) is much larger than the T. The federal government allowed them to trade in interstate highway dollars for transit dollars.

On a larger scale, the DC Metro was largely funded also by traded-in highway dollars.

However, I am happy about the North Shore connector. That area is rapidly becoming a part of Downtown. Everyone keeps saying the new extension will only serve the stadiums, but I do not agree. There are two new office buildings over there, and more offices and housing planned. Plus the riverfront park, museums, and the aviary. The T extension will make that neighborhood more a part of Downtown. It will also be great for tourists, since now Station Square, Downtown and the North Shore will all be connected.

I think the biggest benefit of the North Shore connector would be sparking residential growth on the North Shore since it would be linked quite well with Downtown and Station Square.

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Honestly, as soon as the T opend in the 80s, PAT should have announced that in the 90s or later, we would have both a link the airport and an eastern route, to Oakland, the East end and even the eastern burbs.

They did. I remember that, about a week after they opened the subway in 1985, they announce that they were looking to extend the T to the North Side and to Oakland and Squirrel Hill. The plan was qutie detailed too since it called for running the T across the 6th Street (Roberto Clemente) bridge to the North Side. They also said the eastern terminus would be at Forbes and Murray. At one point, they even extended that to Regents Square.

Of course all that was just talk. However, it does show that PAT was thinking. In fact, in its origianl conception, the present T was supposed to be a "starter" system - much like the "starter" systems in Portland and elsewhere which spawned larger LRT systems. The problem all along has been funding.

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not to spark a political debate, but the reason the "spine line project" (north shore to oakland) was killed was because it was a project supported by the Dem. majority in the county government. When the Republicans took over they decided it was a waste of money and put a stop to it.

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Tooluther, if I remember correctly the GOP that year owed it's victory to a tax-cutting agenda. The crappy things about politics is you have to promise something different then the incumbent, if you win you have to deliver. The debate on that is endless, would you rather be wealthier in a not so hot city or be in a great city that takes a great chunk of your change every year?

Urban, those are some great points and insight. One thing that is lacking out there on the net is a good comprehensive history of the political decisions surrounding the Skybus, Trolleys and Subway. I have seen bits of it but nothing major.

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Urban, those are some great points and insight. One thing that is lacking out there on the net is a good comprehensive history of the political decisions surrounding the Skybus, Trolleys and Subway. I have seen bits of it but nothing major.

Tiem for you to write a "Skybus" entry on wikipedia :P .

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LOL! already edited the Port Authority and main Pittsburgh entries multiple times . . . I have to take it easy on that, anymore action over there and I might need an intervention :D.

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