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Bus Rapid Transit

A new on-street Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service is under consideration in the City of Pittsburgh to offer faster, more reliable, and easier to understand transit service.

Get There PGH, a partnership of more than 45 community organizations, is leading the way in the exploration of BRT. The initial focus is to link Downtown Pittsburgh with Oakland and possibly other East End neighborhoods.

In other cities, the implementation of BRT has been shown to be a cost-effective approach for improving transportation as well as a catalyst for community revitalization. In Pittsburgh, implementation of BRT could result in similar benefits for the Forbes/Fifth corridor and Uptown neighborhood.

The proposed BRT project represents an unprecedented opportunity for citizens and area leaders to design service and amenities, and consider the economic development and community revitalization benefits associated with transportation improvements. To learn more, visit GetTherePGH.org

What is BRT?

Bus Rapid Transit is high-quality bus service that offers the limited stops and faster service of rail, but with the flexibility and lower capital costs associated with buses.

BRT systems use special features to create improved transit service, such as:

• Frequent Service Throughout the Day: Minimizing riders’ waiting times.
• Simple Route Structure: Service is easy to understand.
• Limited Stops: Allows for reduced travel times.
• Exclusive Bus Lanes or Queue Jump Lanes: Allows buses to bypass stopped traffic, thereby reducing delays associated with operating in mixed traffic.
• Branded Service: A catchy name and distinctive vehicles, stations and other facilities to distinguish it from non-BRT service.  
• Enhanced Stations: Distinctively designed passenger waiting facilities with special rider amenities.
• Special Vehicles: BRT-dedicated buses with a sleek, rail-like appearance and low-level boarding that reduces time needed to board and disembark buses, and makes service more accessible.   
• Traffic Signal Priority: Special traffic signals extend the green light for buses so they can pass through intersections before the light changes.
• Off-Vehicle Fare Collection: Helps eliminate delays associated with on-board fare collection.
• Real-Time Information: Knowing when the next bus is arriving reduces uncertainty, making service more attractive.

These features may be considered in the development of an on-street BRT system for Pittsburgh.

Community Partners

Bus Rapid Transit is envisioned as a community project that will benefit more than just transit riders. A number of organizations are currently involved in exploring the possibility of BRT for Pittsburgh, including:

• Allegheny Conference on Community Development  • Hill House Association  • Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development
• Allegheny County Department of Economic Development  • Local Government Academy  • Pittsburgh Penguins
• Allegheny County Labor Council  • National Association of Industrial and Office Parks, Pittsburgh Chapter  • Pittsburgh United
• Allegheny County Transit Council • Oakland Planning & Development Corporation  • Port Authority of Allegheny County
• Allegheny County Transportation Action Partnership  • Oakland Task Force  • Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission
• Bike Pittsburgh  • Oakland Transportation Management Association 
• Sports & Exhibition Authority
• Carlow University  • Pennsylvania Department of Transportation  • Sustainable Pittsburgh
• Carnegie Mellon University & Traffic21
• Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network • University of Pittsburgh
• City of Pittsburgh, Department of City Planning • Pittsburgh Central Keystone Innovation Zone • UPMC
• Committee for Accessible Transportation • Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group   • Uptown Partners of Pittsburgh
• Downtown Neighborhood Association  • Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership • Urban Land Institute 
• Duquesne University • Pittsburgh Parking Authority • Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh 

BRT Status

Community discussion of BRT began in September 2010 when 23 organizations convened for a BRT Forum at Duquesne University. The forum featured planning, development, and transportation professionals with BRT experience, along with stakeholders from the community, BRT insights from three other cities including Kansas City, Los Angeles and Cleveland, and breakout sessions to explore BRT opportunities, challenges and community development issues. Read more about the BRT Forum:

  • Introduction to Bus Rapid Transit 
  • BRT Forum Overview 
  • Forum Agenda 
  • Forum Collaborators 
  • Proposed BRT System: Pittsburgh, PA 

    BRT Forum participants also participated in break-out sessions covering specific BRT issues:
  • Land Use / Economic Development / Community Impact 
  • Marketing / Branding 
  • Traffic Management / ITS Strategies 
  • Implementation Challenges & Opportunities 

    In July 2011, Port Authority’s Board of Directors authorized PB Americas to perform a study of BRT in the Downtown-Oakland corridor. The study will assess factors such as community impact, environmental impact and project financing of a potential BRT system.

    The $1 million study is funded by $840,000 in federal planning grants and $210,000 from Allegheny County. The Federal Transit Administration and PennDOT have approved additional funds for the study and matching funds are being sought from local sources. These funds cannot be applied toward any other purpose, and a BRT study is required in order for the project to qualify for federal funding. 

    In 2012, Get There PGH organizations hosted a series of meetings to discuss possibilities for BRT in Pittsburgh and review potential alignments for service.

    Efforts have continued in 2013, with a workshop held in January to consider potential station designs. And in April, the Rockefeller Foundation announced it was awarding a grant to support research, communications and community outreach efforts for the local BRT intiative. Read more.

    For the latest information on the progress of this initiative, please visit GetTherePGH.org.

    BRT in Other Cities

    Many cities have successfully implemented Bus Rapid Transit, boosting ridership and generating economic benefits.

    The slideshows below provide an overview of BRT systems currently in place in other cities.

  • Cleveland, OH: Healthline 
  • Kansas City, MO: MAX 
  • Los Angeles, CA: Metro Rapid 
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