Archive for the ‘transportation’ Category

PATransit Tuesday: North Shore Connector

Over the weekend, I headed to the Pirates game (the one they lost) and on the way back, was able to take the North Shore Connector from the North Shore station to Steel Plaza.

My only complaint is that the steps were messing with my eyes a little bit, but I think my glasses hadn’t gone all the way back to clear from sunglasses at the time, so I’ll chalk it up to that.

We ended up waiting about five minutes with a pretty large group.  We all got on, and smoothly headed across to downtown.  It has been years since I’ve ridden the T, and I forgot how smooth it was.  I ended up helping a very nice couple who was unsure of the order of stops, but were also getting off at Steel Plaza, so it made it convenient for them to just follow me.

I’m a little confused as to what the “Area of Refuge” signs are for.  First I was thinking it was for lost children, but then I realized young kids would not understand the word “refuge.”  Then I thought maybe in inclement weather, the T station can be used a storm shelter, or maybe it is a warming station for the homeless.  If you know, please sound off in the comments, I’m interested!

Since it was free, I took the T, although I think I probably would have ridden even if I had to pay for the convenience, I just don’t know how I would have shown the operator my pass, but I guess since I rarely ride the T my ignorance can be forgiven, at least this once.

Check out the rest of the pictures from the North Shore station (and pictures from the game) in the gallery here.

PATransit Tuesday: T Plus

The new T stations and the North Shore connector opened this weekend.  I’m super excited actually, I haven’t ridden the T in probably close to 15 years (damn you for not going East or to places like the Waterfront, South Side, Oakland, Water Works, etc).

But I’m going to a Pirates game in April, and I plan on taking the T over to the North Shore.

In the meantime though, you can find out more information and see pictures of the new stations here.  I’d love to hear if anyone has taken advantage of it yet, sound off in the comments below.

Update: Benstonium hits it out of the park with this new video.

You Can’t Get There From Here, part II

So, not only is there all kinds of construction (see yesterday’s post), once again, for the third time, there is construction on the sidewalk in front of the post office and federal courts downtown.

It’s getting a bit absurd how much work is being done to this one block of sidewalk.  I honestly don’t know what else they can possibly do, but I’m sure it will end up being much more inconvenient to pedestrians.  The pillars they put up in front of all the entrances (presumably to prevent vehicles from ramming the doors) really just get in the way for pedestrians.

So once again, I’ll be going out of my way to get to the bus station each morning and afternoon.  I love construction season!

You Can’t Get There From Here

Last week marked the beginning of the construction work on the Squirrel Hill Tunnel.  In addition, a massive restoration effort is starting on the Crosstown Boulevard, including the connections to the Vets Bridge, Liberty Bridge and the Hill District.

Basically, if you use any of the ramps near the area where the Hill District connects with Downtown (Civic Arena, Consol Center, Boulevard of the Allies, etc), there will be a time when you won’t be able to get anywhere.

However, figuring out when things are going to be under construction is a bit of a challenge.  Here is a link to the map which we were provided.  Good luck making heads or tails of it, I’ll be playing each day by ear as I try to get to work and home each day!

Spring comes to Penn Station


PATransit Tuesday: The beginning of The End

As you’ve probably heard by now, unless some last minute funding appears, PAT will be making huge cuts (again).  PAT outlines the situation here on their blog.

But here’s another facet of the funding problem, it’s not just public transportation that is struggling, but all transportation funding, meaning loss of money for road repairs, construction and upkeep (think, bridge repair, pothole filling, etc).  The Roundabout, a blog from the Post Gazette covers some of the reaction to that news here.  And here, the Walkabout makes the economical case for funding public transportation.

These are major cuts, and thinking about PAT not operating a lot of these routes is strange.  ACCESS, the largest system of its kind in the country will also see major cuts and fare increases.  The “Death Spiral” of public transportation is talked about frequently: prices go up, ridership goes down, forcing fares to go up and cuts to be made, and it continues the cycle over and over again.

Has PAT been in a death spiral for a while now?  Probably, but I’ve been able to think happy thoughts and deal with changes.  The former Governor came in at the last moment and found funding, keeping these current cuts at bay, but come June 1, the new fiscal year starts, plunging the system into crisis once more.  And let us not forget, the loss of public transportation affects everyone, Parkways will be more congested, parking even more scarce.

This all comes at a very strange time as well.  Gov. Corbett has promised to look at transportation funding soon (maybe February), and if there is some money that can be found (unless it’s going to tax breaks for Marcellus Shale drillers of course), the whole situation can be avoided.   Additionally, we are on the verge of the North Shore Connector opening (funded by Capital money, which can’t go to operational).

While I know it can’t happen, nor do I understand why, if PAT could operate on a deficit, I think they may have some time to get back on their feet.  I think that funding is in place to offer free rides to the North Shore (just to the first station I think), and I think that that will begin to open people’s eyes to transit, riding the bus has for me.

I started riding the bus because I hated dealing with the Parkway East.  But now, I always consider transit when I am leaving the house, or going someplace after work.  If I can do it via transit, I do.  And I think that more and more people are getting into that mindset, at least slowly.  And it will be a shame to see the Busways and T tracks go dark and unused with the death of PAT.

Civic Arena water main break

During the demolition of the Civic Arena, something fell inside, cutting open a water line.  Water is flooding down Bedford and over the ramp, dripping down onto the Crosstown Blvd.

Camera crews are on the scene, and parts of the Hill District are without water.  More details as I find them out, but be careful around Uptown, as this freezes, it’s going to get really ugly.

Update: The city water authority is still working, and having trouble stopping the water.  Our building is closing as we have no water, and are not expected to until at least five eight.

PATransit Tuesday: Shelters going green


Bus Shelters in East Liberty are turning green: much like some of the skyscrapers in downtown.  Plants were put onto the roof of a bus shelter on Penn Avenue:

At the time, Loralyn called the concept “putting little hubs of biodiversity” right where people can see what a green roof does, from reducing storm water runoff to attracting butterflies.

Last month, the green roof was installed, with educational signage encouraging you to look up

A workshop is scheduled for January 26th if you would like to learn more.

PATransit Tuesday: Push for BRT

PAT has been building up to its new expansion into Bus Rapid Transit, and they’ve launched a new website to promote and explain the concept.

The new website talks about the benefits, although it does not have many concrete plans yet, but hopefully it will be fleshed out soon.  Although it does mention that they are looking at first taking BRT to Oakland via the Forbes/Fifth Corridor.

I’ve been skeptical about the BRT in the past, and I’m still not sold on the fact that we’ll be able to get it to effectively work.  But here’s hoping.

Giant Eagle adding electric car charging stations

imageThis is what was just constructed outside of the big Giant Eagle in Monroeville.  Pretty awesome, although the paint for the spaces next to the two stations are a shade of green that is very hard to read.  It could have been because it was night, or maybe because of the shade, but either way, the spaces on either side of the station are for electric vehicles only.

On a related note, the PA Turnpike is also putting in charging stations:

The state Department of Environmental Protection has announced a $1 million grant award to help develop electric vehicle charging stations along the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

The project is in three stages, and we’ll start seeing them during the second phase (Harrisburg to Ohio), and the whole project is set to be done by the middle of 2013.

It’s interesting to see this move towards electric car, and makes me wonder if I’ll ever be able to afford one.  Although I really do like the idea of charging while getting other errands done.  Would that be enough to make you shop at a new retailer?

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