Under the proposed route changes, the P3 would no longer go to Swissvale and instead would end in Wilkinsburg. Photo by Ann Belser.

Pittsburgh Regional Transit (PRT) has tried to get the word out about the changes proposed for its East End bus routes. There have been legal advertisements, press releases, and stories on television and on the radio, in newspapers and online, such as in NEXTPittsburgh.

The transit authority also posted ads on buses and printed brochures so riders can see the proposed changes.

But a random sampling of riders getting off the P3 in Swissvale last week reveals that there are still people who take the bus regularly who do not know that PRT has proposed shortening their bus route so that it will end in Wilkinsburg instead of Swissvale.

“It’s going to affect a lot of people,” Kendra Polard, of North Braddock, said when she heard about the changes. If the changes take effect, the 61A would be the only direct route to her job as an emergency room registration clerk in Oakland. And that would lengthen her commute from 15 minutes to about an hour.

The P3 serves low-income neighborhoods, and it’s the only bus on the East Busway that goes to Oakland, a major employment hub.

Instead of running between the Swissvale Park and Ride and Fifth Avenue at Robinson Street in Oakland, the proposal calls for the P3 to start at Wilkinsburg Station, travel through Oakland and continue Downtown, then turn around and travel back through Oakland to Wilkinsburg. That change would eliminate the farthest stops on the route at Hamnett, Roslyn and Swissvale stations.

Those changes could be imposed as early as June, but are more likely to occur in October, David Huffaker, the PRT’s chief development officer, said during a recent information session.

Map courtesy of Pittsburgh Regional Transit.

Deb Cipriani, who works in a physician’s office, gets to work by driving to the Swissvale Park and Ride, then taking the P3 to Oakland. She did not know about the proposed changes, but is opposed to them. She said she will have to take a bus on the P1 route to East Liberty and change there to board a P3 to finish her commute, probably adding 10 or 15 minutes to her ride each way.

Pearl Hughley of Rankin, a volunteer for Pittsburghers for Public Transit, has been letting riders know they can still comment on the proposed changes. She said most of the people she talked to did not know about the proposed change.

Hughley said the message the new route says to people of Rankin, Braddock and Swissvale is that “your time is not valuable, and that’s what really galls me. The poor people have to come out and comment that they don’t deserve this.”

She also said one or two people commenting won’t be enough, and that huge numbers of riders have to call the comment line or register their objections online before anyone will take them seriously.

“They don’t deserve this,” Hughley said. “We need the people who are really impacted by this to call.”

Lilian McGough of Forest Hills regularly takes the P3 from Swissvale to her job in Oakland. Photo by Ann Belser.

One rider who plans to register a complaint against the proposed change is Lilian McGough of Forest Hills, who found out about the proposal after getting off the bus from her job at the University of Pittsburgh. She takes the P3 daily and says it will take her an additional 15 minutes to drive to the Park and Ride in Wilkinsburg.

“The whole point of public transit is to eliminate traffic,” McGough said.

Anyone who has to change buses will not be changed to transfer if they are using a weekly or monthly pass or a ConnectCard to pay their fare. However, riders who pay their fares in cash will be charged $2.75 each time they enter a new bus.

Pittsburgh Regional Transit is accepting comments from riders about the proposed changes until 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 1

The public can express thoughts about the changes online or by calling 412-566-5335 and leaving a message. 

Additionally, PRT is accepting written comments by mail at:

  • Pittsburgh Regional Transit
    Attn: BRT Service Changes
    Heinz 57 Center
    345 Sixth Ave., Third Floor
    Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Ann Belser is the owner of Print, a newspaper covering Pittsburgh's East End communities. After receiving a master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, she moved to Squirrel Hill and was a staff writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for 20 years where she covered local communities, county government, courts and business.