For the next eight weeks, a coalition of political and business leaders from western Pennsylvania will be crowdsourcing an answer to the question: What are the region’s most pressing transportation needs?

The Regional Transportation Alliance of Southwestern Pennsylvania will be gathering input from 700 varied groups across the 10-county region, including social service organizations and chambers of commerce, in an attempt to discover the gaps in local transportation offerings, and how to best solve transportation problems.

The alliance is led by a steering committee comprised of a public sector and private sector representative from each of the 10 counties and the city of Pittsburgh. The Allegheny Conference on Community Development will provide support staff, paid for with funding from local foundations.

View of downtown Pittsburgh. Photo by Brian Cohen.

“By crowdsourcing the problem, we are hoping to gauge not just specific problems, but find common themes,” says Ken Zapinski of the Allegheny Conference. The goal is to gather a consensus of what the biggest, most serious concerns are, whether it’s more frequent bus schedules, better access to bike lanes, or other modes of transportation, and figure out how to find funding to solve them. And Zapinski says, since it’s comprised of both public and private representatives, the group won’t be as limited in the ways it can seek funding for transportation projects as public sector entities generally are.

Zapinski adds that the group is not going into the process with any expectations of what it might find. “We’ve only just begun to have this conversation on a regional level,” he says. “This lets us open the door to many different situations.”

Organizations that want to participate can visit the website to sign up.

Kim Lyons

Kim Lyons is an award-winning writer and editor who spends way too much time on Twitter. Her experience includes crime, features and business reporting, and she has a huge crush on Pittsburgh. She was...