Sunday, December 02, 2007

Skybus: A Genuine, Bona fide, Electrified...

A rush hour spent crawling down McKnightmare Road or the Parkway East can transform even the most placid of Pittsburgh drivers into a violent, screaming, first base-stealing maniac. As gridlock prevails and mass transit continues to die a slow, painful death in Allegheny County, the magic of the Internets allows us to take a look back at what might have been.

The late 1960s saw the Westinghouse Corporation create the Skybus rapid-transit system. The proposed system of rubber-tired vehicles running along an elevated rail track would have been able to operate at high speed and would have had the flexibility to allow for additional cars to be deployed in periods of high demand. Like any innovative, modern idea in the Steel City, Skybus failed to materialize, as change-fearing trolley fanatics had their way, halting construction on the system. The trolley system instituted after Skybus' failure has been since replaced current Light Rail System, a (for the most part) single line crawl of workaday Yunzers in and out of the South Hills.

Decades later, the system is alternately seen as an innovative idea that was a victim of local politics and a false hope that only Lyle Lanley could have foisted upon Allegheny County. The only appearance of Skybus in Pittsburgh was a demonstration track built at the South Park fairgrounds. The Skybus technology lives on today in the form of airport people-movers. Luckily, the whimsy of the Skybus test track has been preserved on film and posted on Youtube:



Perhaps it's for the best that Skybus never materialized. After all, the Allegheny River Chunnel would be pointless without a Light Rail system for schlepping Yunzers to Heinz Field. And you can't turn down $500 million in federal money.

4 comments:

CapitolMAN said...

A big ole bus on rails? Now I've heard of everything.

The Duke said...

A tunnel from downtown to the Northside? It's about time, walking over the Clemente bridge is just awful - wait a second, how much is it going to cost to save me the 10 minute walk over the bridge? Oh, it's only 500 million, oh ok. It's all good.

Anonymous said...

Wow. For a moment there, my little heart went a pitter-patter. When I read the headline, I thought for a second that USair was building a new hub somewhere in the city. Fat chance of that, huh? I guess I'll just have to settle for the new underground Maglev that's being built from Arnold Palmer Regional Airport to the new casino at the Meadow lands! Five years till' table games, Weeeeeee! FOR CHRISTS SAKE, RUN AWAY, RUN AWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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