Thursday, June 09, 2005

Train to Success

Paul Skoutelas should admit he doesnt like transit riders in city neighborhoods. If expansion of the light rail system is any indication, he would have a hard time explaining why every expansion systematically avoids servicing previously developed city neighborhoods. PAT, it seems, is hell bent on getting people from Upper St. Clair wherever the hell they want to go by rail- damned be the rest of us. Consider three transit developments in the last 3 years...

The Overbrook Line, "The get my rich white ass home line:" The 51C, which services communities along Brownsville Road into downtown, might be one of the most heavily travelled PAT lines in the region. Though the 51Ce is an obvious market to tap, The Overbrook Line in its current configuration took advantage of a pre-existing right-of-way to shave 15-20 minutes off of travel from South Hills Village to Downtown, providing little to no service to the South Hills communities it bypasses. Perhaps a subway line under Brownsville Road for the poor bastards crammed onto the 51C would have been nice, and it probably would have helped strengthen the housing market in Carrick and other struggling communities on Brownsville Road. But the City doesnt see redevelopment in those neighborhoods as a priority, and Paul took the path of least resistance on building this one.

The Oakland/Sq. Hill Line: "The I'm running for Mayor line:" The 61C, the most abused, congested, miserable busline in the city, remains just that. Want a seat... how bout some Oxygen? Cant get either on the 61C. If PAT were serious about providing commuter service, this one would have been completed in the 1940's. Enough said.

The North Shore Connector: "The Whitey Likes Sports Line:" Not only will we shave 20 minutes off of your commute from South Hills Village, we'll make sure you can get to the ballpark too. The most egregious parts of this plan lie in the fact that it undercuts the Gateway Clipper's successful cross-river service, that it bypasses older developed neighborhoods on the northside (where people might actually use the train for more than just a ballgame), and that plans using the pre-existing PRR rail trestle (meaning, no under the river tunnel) were scuttled because it necessitated a transfer between subway lines. We needed a DIRECT line between South Hills Village and the Stadiums.

Admittedly, the North Shore Connector will provide transit service to the newly developed site between the stadiums... might be good if something actually develops there. But there is a WHOLE NEIGHBORHOOD behind the stadiums that is quickly turning into one of Pittsburgh's finest, and it remains unsupported in this project. Then again, I suppose for us to start thinking about pre-existing neighborhoods as something worth going to, we would have to assume they are something worth investing in- something worth saving.

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