Walter Hook discusses Pittsburgh’s BRT with Interim Port Authority of Allegheny County CEO Ellen McLean and County Executive Rich Fitzgerald Photo Credit: WESA 

 ITDP CEO Walter Hook and US Country Director Annie Weinstock were in Pittsburgh on Wednesday to officially recognize Pittsburgh as a US best practice for bus rapid transit. ITDP named Pittsburgh’s Martin Luther King East Busway as one of only five systems in the United States that qualifies as gold, silver, or bronze with the The BRT Standard, a defining and scoring designation for bus rapid transit (BRT). In addition to the East busway, Pittsburgh’s West and South busways qualified as basic BRT.

“Pittsburgh has three of the seven true BRT corridors in the United States,” said Walter Hook. “Despite the increasing prevalence, prominence and success of BRT systems, many people remain unaware of the characteristics of the best BRT systems and their potential to provide levels of service typically associated with metro and subway systems.  Pittsburgh is a great example of what can be accomplished with a proper BRT, and our hope is that more cities will adopt this cutting-edge form of mass transit.”

Port Authority’s East Busway spans nine miles from Downtown to Swissvale, serving about 25,000 riders daily. It offers service on 15 routes from nine stations. The original segment of the busway opened in February 1983 between downtown Pittsburgh and Edgewood. In 2003, it was extended an additional 2.3 miles into Swissvale. The routes along the busway operate a minimum of five days a week, with routes utilizing the busway as well, which allows a bypass of the heavily congested Parkway East, making for faster trip times.

“The recognition of the Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway by ITDP is extremely rewarding,” said Allegheny County Executive Fitzgerald. “This busway serves a vibrant corridor that includes Shadyside, East Liberty and Wilkinsburg. It reflects that great success that BRT is and underscores the possibilities for BRT in other areas, including service to the Downtown-Uptown- Oakland corridor. These efforts have been provide to support economic development activity, foster residential growth and bring about other community benefits.”

More than 40 organizations have called on the Port Authority to assess the potential benefits of bus rapid transit in that corridor, which links the state’s second- and third-largest job centers. In addition to the East Busway, busways in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Eugene, Ore., also received Bronze Standards. Only Cleveland’s Health Line received a Silver Standard. The local BRT Stakeholders Advisory Group is planning a visit in the next few month to visit Cleveland’s Health Line.

The story was covered by local media, including the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, NPR affiliate WESA, and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.