PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Crammed trains and long waits – not everything has been perfect since the North Shore Connector opened back in March.

Still, Port Authority CEO Steve Bland called it “an unqualified success” when he was in KDKA-TV’s studio for this week’s taping of the KD/PG Sunday Edition.

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“People are using it in numbers way over what we would have expected,” said Bland.

He also says the Connector is introducing new riders to the light rail system.

“These are people who’ve never used the subway before,” Bland said. “Many are people who’ve never used public transit before, and many are people who aren’t from this region. It’s visitors.”

Bland says the overcrowding and long waits seen two weekends ago are being addressed.

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“Any issues we’re running into right now are really manpower shortages, and we’re taking a number of steps to address that,” he added.

Don’t expect to see another light rail expansion anytime soon, but the success of the North Shore Connector does have Bland and others thinking about something similar – Bus Rapid Transit to Oakland.

“Trying to make bus technology look, feel and work as much like light rail as you possibly can,” Bland says. “It’s simplifying the route structure so that if you look at that system, it really looks like a rail line. It’s just the vehicle that’s not the same.”

Bland says more than 30 organizations, including universities and the Pittsburgh Penguins, are being brought in to look at the idea and what it could do for some of the city’s most congested neighborhoods.

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