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Port Authority Hoping To Make Downtown Bus-Free

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(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Harold Hayes Harold Hayes
Harold Hayes joined KDKA-TV in August of 1979 as a general assignment...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – At Smithfield and Sixth downtown, a long bus tries to turn onto a narrow street, causing cars to back up and others cars to wait till the traffic jam moves on.

Planners are looking at moving bus stops for buses on Smithfield Street, for example, away from the center of town, toward the edge of downtown.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald thinks it’s time to implement such a plan to relieve congestion.

“Maybe taking some of the buses off of say, Smithfield, Wood Street, not the entire way, but maybe from Third Avenue down to Seventh Avenue. Probably five or six blocks… the core of Downtown Pittsburgh to make it again more pedestrian friendly,” he said.

Fifth Avenue buses might loop at Ross or Grant, rather than coming all the way into town.

Joe Simmons of the North Hills, who frequently travels to the University of Pittsburgh, isn’t so sure.

“Well, it gives me good exercise. But I don’t want three or four blocks,” he said. “No, I don’t want that kind of exercise.”

Buses have rerouted away from Market Square already creating a park-like setting, and some North Side buses already stop short of town, linking with the subway.

Still some riders are resistant to this kind of change.

“I have a mother who works downtown,” says Sharon Cardamone of Greenfield, “and she don’t need to be walking six blocks to get to her job when she’s on her feet all day.”

“It wouldn’t really affect people like me too much,” says Shaheen Banks of Mt. Washington. “I could catch a bus anywhere. I’m always on the go, but for those who aren’t really trying to make all those trips, it will be way less convenient.”

Cliff Hammock, of the North Side, when asked about the proposal said, “There’s an old saying, ‘If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.’ So, you know, I mean they’re changing a lot of these bus routes like they did in Swissvale too and everybody’s complaining about it and they’re getting ready to change more?”

Whatever changes are being considered, Port Authority board member John Tague, confined to a wheelchair, hopes his voice is heard.

“I hope they keep in mind people with mobility issues, and that’s not just people with disabilities, that’s senior citizens and so forth,” says Tague. “I just want to make sure that our voices are heard, that our concerns are addressed.”

Again, these are just proposals, but it could be next year before any of them are implemented.

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