Under PAT, Downtown routes has been a customer service nightmare. There are a few reasons as to why. First, there are nearly 100 routes coming in and out during the normal operations. Even more with Rush Hour service. This is for an area that has heavy automobile traffic, both residences and businesses, most – if not all of the county’s tallest buildings and in an area of 1.2 square miles. On top of that, there is no point where all of the buses in one are able to connect with the other buses. There are a couple of exceptions, but this is typically the rule.
In addition, Downtown is a Free Zone which has caused other problems (such as the fare payment policy). PAT is considering on terminating the free zone policy, but this will hinder elderly and disabled – both of which either needs to use Downtown, or lives in Downtown. ACTA will solve all of these problems in the following means.
The ACTA plan will call for a hub/connector bus module. This is opposed to a direct route module PAT uses. This will mean that many passengers may have to take 2 buses when 1 was used before. However, this will reduce the number of primary routes into Downtown, make those routes that are coming into Downtown more full (therefore more profitable), and will make negotiating with the City of Pittsburgh for route consolidation easier.
When entering Downtown, routes of a particular group are likely to use the same roads to get to one point in Downtown. Therefore, 11-19 numbers will come into Downtown and serve a certain way to get to Penn Station. 31-39 may have a slightly different route. Since most of the numbers mentioned will likely not have primary buses, these numbers are reduced. By doing this, all primary routes will have a single end point.
Single End Point
To make transferring from one bus to another easier, there will be a single station/stop that will be served by all routes. While ideally a Transit Mall is the best solution, this is not likely to be an option for ACTA. In this case, Penn Station (alongside AmTrack’s Downtown Station) will be where all buses will meet. Some will argue there is not enough space, and for almost 100 primary routes, this is the case. Under the ACTA plan, there will be fewer routes, and within this space, there is no public traffic. If anything, there might have to be some work to add more points for where buses can sit or loop, but this will be a minor issue.
Tier Payment System
Under the ACTA Plan, all route types are given a unique means of identifying. For example, connectors are two digit numbers only. A primary route starts with a letter, and ends in a number. All Connectors have the same fare price. All Primary routes have a different fare price from Connectors, but the same with all primary. This will be especially relevant for Downtown, as Colors will be free. While the Free Downtown Zone will be eliminated, free Downtown Service routes will not. It will even be this system that can provide justification on reducing the number of North and South primary routes.
Inbound will focus on dropping off passengers. Outbound will focus on picking up passengers. All passengers will be required to be dropped off or pay again once reaching Penn Station. This will apply to all except the color routes. While in Downtown, there may only be one or two stops. Again, the Free Tier Routes will provide for those that need this resource.
N routes in the 10, 20, 30, and 90 ranges will enter Downtown via the 9th Street Bridge to Fort Duquesne Blvd. From there, the routes will turn east to Liberty Avenue which will bring the routes into the East Busway, and Penn Station. When exiting, the routes will use Liberty Avenue to 7th Street, and cross the bridge. N 10s and 90s will use E. Commons to E. Ohio, while 20s will use Stockton to Cedar. 30s will connect with Ohio River Blvd to eventually serve the west.
W Routes in the 20 – 40 ranges will use I-376 and Fort Pitt Bridge to connect with Blvd of the Allies. From there, the routes will use Grant to enter to Penn Station. In Phase 2, there will be an underground entry point for the West Busway. These routes will be outfitted with Guide rails, or the subway lines within Downtown will have to be renovated to support both bus and train.
S Routes in the 30 – 60 ranges will use the Panhandle bridge (PAT/ACTA Only) to enter Downtown at the First Avenue Station, the routes will use the current rail lines to connect with Penn Station. Likewise, they will exit in the same manner
E Routes in the 50 – 70 ranges will connect to Downtown through Fifth which will be negotiated to have the bus lane that is on Fifth Avenue in Oakland to extend to Grant St. If this is done, the only primary route that will serve Forbes Avenue will be the E60: CMU Loop. E Routes in the 10, 80 – 99 range will enter Downtown at Liberty Avenue, and immediately turn into the Busway. East Routes entering Downtown via the E. Busway (such as E1: Oakland Rapid) will loop Downtown as the current P1: East Busway.