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Mass Transit to the North?


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There's been some discussion on the Skyscraper page about the county's mass transit planning doc that was released last week. Since topics jump rappidly there, I thought I'd move it over here and direct it a bit.

A. Although there is no funding in place for this plan, I do think it was a very good idea to put it into place should the Feds ever smarted up about where all our transportation dollars are going.

B. I'm glad there was at least SOME mention of commuter rail up the 28 corridor, even though it was barely a footnote at the end.

C. Why is there no mention of improving transit to the North Hills and above? This is where all the people in the region are moving...and yet that is the weakest cog in the transit wheel. Given the massive amount of commercial development in Cranberry, I would think a commuter rail system following the lines along Route 8 would be in very strong demand for commuters coming into town as well as up to Cranberry Woods etc. A commuter system with big strengths on both ends? Sounds a lot like the case that the transit planners made for the Airport-Oakland routing...what's the deal?

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There is an article in this week's Business Times about New Kensington's revitalization... and the commuter rail to Pittsburgh is mentioned.

Re: North Hills rail

The North Hills is the region's growth magnet (sadly)... and while it may have a large population... the way that population is "structured" is less conducive to rail transit. There are few walkable areas and dense nodes and clusters of urban settlement. It is strictly developed for the car. That is why there is no discussion of North Hills rail transit.

There is a big difference between the "structure" of the North Hills and the South Hills Dormont - Mt. Lebanon corridor. Dormont - Mt. Lebanon is very dense and walkable and perfect for transit... and has high ridership. It has weak automobile connections to the city... the clogged tunnels of narrow US19. North Hills has basically the most unobstructed automobile access to Downtown along 279.... which would reduce the need or perceived need to take transit.

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One of the ideas I liked in the new plan was "intercept" exits from the Parkway West which would lead to giant "Park-n-Ride" facilities and TOD's along the West Busway (side note, its not possible to allow private traffic on the busways due to insurance plans).

Everyone from the north is coming or going via 279, the same system could be put into place. True, some people are going to drive no matter what. But as gas prices continue to rise and as people grow more aware of their carbon footprints I think even the more sprawling areas of the region would be primed for collect and run transit options.

The same could be said on the Parkway East.

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Allegheny County is simply not designed for serious rail transport. The population is too spread out and the traffic is not great enough to cause people to give up on their cars. The only corridors where rail transit would be practical are the North Side-Downtown-Oakland corridor and the Downtown to South Hills corridor. The South Hills is already fulfilled and the Northside-Downtown connection is being built. Downtown to Oakland would work too except for the fact that the East Busway already takes on this role. Just about any other corridor in Allegheny County is jsut too spread out to justify rail transportation.

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