Buses like this one above, the EBO, now known as the P3, would be eliminated under PAT’s new BRT proposal. (Courtesy Photo)

About six years ago when the Port Authority of Allegheny County determined that extending light rail service from Downtown Pittsburgh to Oakland via a route along Centre Avenue through the Hill District was prohibitively expensive, it proposed deploying a Bus Rapid Transit system as the next best alternative. The BRT system would deploy special buses, in dedicated lanes, making fewer stops—just like a rail system.

Last week, the authority announced its choice for the system’s route. Called “Core+2,” it would not use Centre Avenue. It would bypass the Hill District, with buses running in dedicated lanes from Downtown outbound via Forbes Avenue and inbound to Downtown via Fifth Avenue. Currently, 14 existing bus routes use Forbes and Fifth avenues in Oakland.

The proposed BRT system requires each BRT bus leaving Downtown to make stops in Oakland. Then, some BRT buses would break off into different routes, labeled branches by the authority—one extending toward Highland Park, one toward Squirrel Hill, and one toward East Liberty, Homewood and Wilkinsburg via the East Busway’s Oakland entrance.

But wouldn’t that just add to congestion, voiding the “rapid” part of the BRT plan?

No, said authority Senior Analyst Amy Silbermann. She told the Courier exclusively that the other buses in Oakland—the 61’s, 71’s, and 12 others on routes numbered from 28 to 93—would no longer go Downtown Pittsburgh.

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