CLEVELAND (KDKA) — It operates a lot like light rail. The doors open on either the left or the right, and the platforms are at door-level.

In Cleveland, the Bus Rapid Transit line – touted by the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority – is called the Health Line because it links downtown with the city’s hospital and university community.

It has its own right of way and its own signal system, which can force other traffic to yield.

And it was under the watchful eye of Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Democratic Pittsburgh mayoral candidate Bill Peduto and others today.

During a presentation at Cleveland’s Renaissance Hotel, RTA officials and city development experts told the group the concept has lowered what was a 40-minute trip down to 28 minutes, and that it has generated $4 billion worth of development along the bus route corridor.

Fitzgerald thinks an investment in Bus Rapid Transit from Downtown to Oakland is worth it.

“Light rail costs $2 to $3 billion and would probably take at least 15 to 20 years to build,” says Fitzgerald. “What Cleveland has done is put in a BRT – Bus Rapid Transit. They call it better rapid transit that would cost about $200 million.”

Peduto thinks such a project would generate not only rapid transit but development in city neighborhoods that have untapped potential. He hopes groundbreaking could begin by 2016.

“What I’d love to see is a rapid transit system that connected Downtown to Oakland using both Fifth and Forbes so that we could see development occur in areas like the Hill District and Uptown, some of the most valuable land in all of the United States,” says Peduto.

The Fifth and Forbes Avenue corridors through Uptown are narrower than the right of way on this Cleveland line. Still some city councilmen see opportunities.

“As you drive down Fifth Avenue, there are locations that are vacant that are abandoned buildings that would just turn around in a heartbeat if they had a stop like this,” said Councilman Corey O’Connor.

Councilman Daniel Lavelle, who represents the Hill District, also sees potential in the concept but hopes there would be transit connections to his district.

“If we’re trying to use this to spur economic development, then you’re going to need spine line connections to the community to help move that forward,” said Councilman Lavelle.

The next step is planning and looking for funding. All that is expected to take a couple of years.

Fitzgerald Looking To Bring Cleveland’s Bus Rapid Transit System To Pittsburgh (6/14/13)
More Political News

Join The Conversation On The KDKA Facebook Page
Stay Up To Date, Follow KDKA On Twitter

Watch & Listen LIVE