Bus Rapid Transit work could start next spring in downtown

Rendering of BRT station


The proposed Bus Rapid Transit system will create dedicated bus lanes on Fifth and Forbes avenues and “provide a more reliable transit service between downtown and Oakland with improved on-time performance,” officials from Pittsburgh Regional Transit told those gathered for a development activities meeting last month.

On June 27, Pittsburgh Regional Transit (PRT), formerly known as the Port Authority of Allegheny County, and the city of Pittsburgh Department of Mobility and Infrastructure outlined the project, including designs for the proposed stations. Members from several of the registered community organization along the BRT system’s route were in attendance.

The BRT will mean some key changes in Oakland. On Fifth (inbound) and Forbes (outbound), the far right lane will be for buses only — with the lanes painted red. On Fifth Avenue, the current opposing outbound bus-only lane will be turned into a two-way bike lane in Oakland and Uptown. Going further outbound from Oakland, buses will fan out on non-dedicated roadways to a variety of destinations, just as they do now but with traffic light priority on some routes.

Denise Ott, a Pittsburgh Regional Transit project manager, said the BRT will include new transit stations and upgraded sidewalks and ADA ramps as needed. They hope to advertise and bid construction of the first phase of the project — the downtown loop — later this summer or early fall, then start work on that section next spring. The second phase in Uptown and Oakland would be bid out next spring and construction would hopefully start in spring 2024. The overall project is expected to be completed by the end of 2026.

Each of the new transit stations will have machines for buying or validating tickets, an emergency phone, enhanced lighting, bench seating, maps for wayfinding, braille signage, ADA boarding space and security cameras.

“The shelters are meant to be designed to convey a contemporary design,” said Osborne Anthony, an architect with AECOM, which is designing the stations. They will come in three sizes — 15, 30 and 60 feet — and they will be scalable to allow for additions as needed.

Steve Auterman of the city Department of Mobility and Infrastructure said there also will be public art in the shelters — with $150,000 set aside for that. He said there will be a call for artists, and a selection committee will choose one or more artists or groups of artists to prepare installations.

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at suejones@pitt.edu or 724-244-4042.


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