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July 07, 2011

Heinz Students Explore Rapid Transit in Busy Pittsburgh Corridor

A public bus rapid transit system connecting Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood, a hub for higher education, health care and commercial business, with the city’s downtown sounded like a great idea to a team of Heinz College students. So, they recently set out to investigate implementing Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in the Oakland-Downtown corridor in a project sponsored by Port Authority of Allegheny County (PAAC) and organized by the Heinz College’s Center for Economic Development.
BRT designs vary widely, but common features of the system, which combines the flexibility of buses with the efficiency of rail transportation, include limited stops, upgraded stations, and even dedicated lanes. BRT has the potential to increase the speed, reliability and convenience of service, attract more riders to public transit and foster economic development along the route.  
With the help of adviser Christopher Paul of Rand Pittsburgh, the team explored eight key issues with implementation, including: options for financing BRT; economic development opportunities along the corridor; bus stop selection; integrating BRT with other transit modes, such as biking; marketing BRT; branding BRT; intelligent transportation system opportunities with BRT; and rider perceptions of current versus enhanced bus service.
"This project was an amazing opportunity for us as students, but also shows great potential for public transit in the city's east end," said project co-manager Tim Seidel (MSPPM ‘11), assistant director for alumni communications at CMU. "While our research is only a starting point for a larger PAAC project, I hope that the information we provided will serve PAAC well in terms of identifying some key areas that will contribute to the overall success of BRT here in the Pittsburgh region."
Read more and watch a video about the study at