PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Port Authority is holding nearly a dozen community discussions over the next four months in places all around Allegheny County.
The goal of the meetings is to inform the public of what the Port Authority is working on and listen to things that most concern riders.
The first of three discussions happened on Wednesday at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.
There were plenty of questions.
One man wanted to know if fares are going to sky-rocket because if they do, his service agency may no longer pay for his bus service.
Amy Silbermann, director of planning for the Port Authority, tried to put his mind at ease.
“There is going to be an opportunity today to hear about some choices and give feedback about fare structures,” Silbermann said.
The meetings are also a chance to let riders know that the Port Authority has already been listening.
“It’s critical that we come back on a second iteration at least and say, ‘Hey, this is what we heard from you,'” said Port Authority CEO Katharine Kelleman. “Did we hear it right and are we working on ideas that meet those needs together?”
The Port Authority opened each meeting with a presentation about what is coming in the next few years.
That included a breakdown of what will happen with the Bus Rapid Transit System, from its infancy to its unveiling in the next 3 1/2 years.
The BRT is designed to give riders a dedicated line to get from downtown to Oakland, and then into other areas like Squirrel Hill, Greenfield or to East Liberty, Shadyside and Highland Park.
One rider said she is more concerned with those kinds of realities as opposed to possibilities of things like the gondolas recently discussed by Mayor Bill Peduto as a way of connecting parts of the city.
“There needs to be a way for that money to be moved to practical bus service and away from these fancy projects,” said Barb Warfield of Greenfield.
The Port Authority said making the current system better is the number one priority, even as it prepares for the future.
“We are working to find efficiencies in our service plans so that we can expand our service,” said Phillip St. Pierre, the Port Authority’s director of service planning & scheduling. “We are always looking at the current evaluation of our service to find those efficiencies and put those resources in place to meet the community demand.”