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Port Authority Asks For Public Input On The Future Of Transportation In The Region

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
The Allegheny County Port Authority is holding virtual meetings to collect public comments about how public transportation should grow over the next 25 years.

The Port Authority of Allegheny County is asking the public for ideas for its long-range transit plan called NEXTransit this week. Organizers say no idea is too big.

The Port Authority is in the process of developing a plan for investing and expanding the region’s transportation network over the next 25 years. The Authority began the process at the beginning of the 2020 and planned to hold large public meetings to gather ideas about where Allegheny County residents want to see more buses, T stops or pedestrian walkways. Those meetings have since been forced online due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

The first of three meetings was held Tuesday with more than 30 participants. Several people noted capacity limitations as an issue with local public transportation even before the coronavirus limited the number of riders. Others pitched ideas like new park-and-ride locations in the western Pittsburgh suburbs between downtown and the airport. The need for transfer stops within the suburbs was also mentioned as a way for people to avoid having to first travel downtown to connect to a different bus route before getting to their destination neighborhood.

NEXTransit project managers presented data collected about population growth and ridership in different sections of Allegheny County. An interactive map was edited to include markers for these ideas as people presented them. The meeting split up into several groups to focus on specific sections of Allegheny County.

The Port Authority said the input received from the meetings will serve as a blueprint when creating its long-range investment plan which will expand the region’s transportation network through 2045.

The public will have two more opportunities Wednesday to weigh in on the future of mass transit in the Pittsburgh region. NEXTransit will host a meeting at 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. People interested can register at NEXTransit’s website. The Port Authority says American Sign Language interpreters will be present during these meetings.