Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Public Transit Is Biggest Transportation Concern in the Region Alliance Expected to Recommend Change, Based on Survey

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Public Transit Is Biggest Transportation Concern in the Region Alliance Expected to Recommend Change, Based on Survey

Article excerpt

A public-private partnership is expected to have recommendations for transportation improvements in the 10-county area by the end of the year, but a crowd-sourcing survey shows a strong interest in one particular area: more public transit.

The Regional Transportation Alliance asked 800 groups what transportation changes would make the biggest difference for their clients or members.

The agency got about 340 responses and the top suggestion in each county was to improve public transit, which was mentioned by 46 percent of all respondents and had the highest percentage in each county.

"I think this was a real surprise," said Ken Zapinski, senior vice president for energy and infrastructure for the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, who serves as staff for the alliance. "If we had data like this in the Act 89 discussion, we may have been able to make a better argument [for more transit funding]."

The alliance released the results of the survey last week in advance of a forum it is holding Monday called, "Future of Mobility." The forum, from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Kelly Strahorn Theater in East Liberty, will feature panel discussions on self-driving vehicles and how technology can be used to improve mobility.

The alliance is an outgrowth of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, the 10-county agency that reviews transportation projects. After Pennsylvania passed a transportation funding program, Act 89, in 2013 to upgrade existing roads, bridges and public transportation, the commission suggested a similar regional group be formed to recommend new transportation initiatives.

The Allegheny Conference on Community Development provides the staff for the RTA, which has one government and one community representative from each county. Those counties are Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Indiana, Greene, Lawrence, Washington and Westmoreland.

The co-chairmen are Steve Craig, a Lawrence County commissioner, and Brian Heery, president and CEO of Mitsubishi Electric Power Products Inc. of Butler.

The alliance is expected to release its suggestions by the end of the year in a report called "Imagine Transportation 1. …

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