Intermodal PITT

Submitted by lmcshane on Sun, 11/15/2015 - 10:01.

 Laura McShane

Revisited Pittsburgh this past weekend - to try out the idea of a daytrip via Greyhound (Sadly, the Megabus doesn't cover PITT anymore).  I will explore option of bike aboard this spring via Amtrak.  

It is no secret that in CLE - urban planners want the Art Deco Greyhound station for another trendy, upscale restaurant.  I would say to folks who want to combine all passenger train and bus transportation in Cleveland -DO NOT DO IT.   Pittsburgh has the advantage over Cleveland - of having a stunning old train station next to their newish 2008 Greyhound terminal, but it is not a train station anymore.   The Amtrak waiting area in Pittsburgh is relegated to an underground depot area.  It's not glamorous - but it's also not horrible given the timetables that the train runs.  The Cleveland Amtrak is similarly, not horrible, but it is physically remote from commerce and activity.

I have suggested before and I will suggest again - the Amtrak station should be relocated west of downtown, to the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood, where there is pedestrian activity and the potential to make intermodal transfers via bike and GCRTA to destinations east, west and south.   The Greyhound station should stay exactly where it is - OR, especially, if there is a merger with the Megabus - combine all of the bus hubs to the Stephanie Tubbs Jones transit center adjacent to the CSU campus.  My preferred alternative though would be combined Megabus and Greyhound service from the existing Greyhound Station.

The real contrast in transit waiting areas between PITT and CLE is in the perceived safety at the terminals.  Upon departure at the CLE Greyhound terminal at 6:45 a.m., I had to run a gauntlet of truly scary-looking bums hustling me for change.  The CLE Greyhound station is not unattractive - it was remodeled and it has improved since the college days I took the bus.  But, the seedy characters inside and outside the CLE terminal - do make the experience daunting.  

Contrast: my arrival in PITT to a more updated terminal - expansive, clean and with a number of amenities, including a security system that dissuades pan-handling and non-transit riders.  I did not use the bathrooms at the CLE Greyhound.  Frankly, I was afraid to go into them.  But, at PITT the restrooms are well-laid out and there are reminders that there is a video camera surveillance.  

Both PITT and CLE have bus terminals that are immediately accessible to walkable downtown attractions:  

The appeal of PITT is a cleaner and more service-oriented environment.  CLE could easily replicate this model and make the existing Art Deco Greyhound terminal, yet another downtown attraction.  I can see PITT visitors disembarking to visit the new Hofbrauhaus (PITT is a metropolitan area heavily defined by their German heritage). Then, booking a stay downtown to attend Playhouse Square, a Browns Game, and to enjoy the downtown restaurants and cultural offerings.  CLE, also has the advatage of a more legible downtown transit system,which includes the GCRTA Healthline, a direct trip to the University Circle area.

As a one-day tourist to Pittsburgh this past Saturday 11/114/2015, I can say I will do the trip again, and possibly stay overnight at the Priory.  I would have liked to visit the Oak Hill area and the Carnegie Museum, but PITT does not make their regional transit system easy to understand.  I will give GCRTA props on a more legible system, but then again, the topography here is not as disorienting.  

My entire day, 7 a.m. departure CLE and 7:45 departure PITT, consisted of walking throughout downtown PITT to the Northside neighborhood and back. I visited the Warhol Museum, lunched at El Barrio, stopped by the Allegheny Carnegie Library, enjoyed the amazing and FREE Randyland, stopped by the Mattress Factory, Childrens' Museum, and the Pirates Stadium.  Serendipity lead me to attend a cultural offering at the Woods St Station art gallery - and a dance performance.  All in one day, Pittsburgh, with a total cost- bus tickets, food and events for one person: $130.00.




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