Monday, December 29, 2008

Are We Going Somewhere?

Councilman Peduto - the only person on council that appears to be putting forth bold ideas and attempting to sidestep council politics - has put forth yet another bold and interesting idea in council today.

Peduto's idea is partially converting a freight line that runs through Hazelwood/Oakland/Lawrenceville into a commuter line. More public transportation is good. Building on existing infrastructure to work on a project that costs potentially less than $100 million instead of a project costing in the billions is a very smart use of our resources.

However, who is going to take this train? Carnegie Mellon folks who want to reach their robotics center from the central campus? The people who want a relief from parking in Oakland and are willing to park their car at either end of the line in a cheaper less crowded garage? Would this connect to the new Children's Hospital and give parents and UPMC workers more access to this grandiose new Lawrenceville destination? And where does this plan fit in the grand over-arching scheme of Pittsburgh public transportation dreams? Does such a dream plan even exist? There are a ridiculous number of freight lines throughout the city. How many of them could potentially be converted to commuter rail?

And most importantly, are these connections valuable enough to CMU or UPMC or someone else to drive some public-private partnership money?

At an upfront cost $9,000 it's worth finding out the answers.


Brett said...

This is an interesting idea--although definitely not as useful as a subway or streetcar system, it would definitely be a positive, at least short-term.

In the long-term, however, I'm not sure it would be a positive. Heavy rail is very different than light rail (like the T), and building a separate heavy rail commuter-type system may hinder attempts at expanding the T throughout the city. If it were done, I'd like the see the heavy-rail commuter line connect outlying suburbs with downtown and Oakland--that would be a huge boon, and similar to models that work in Washington DC (MARC trains and VRE trains).

Schultz said...

I would support this if the commuter rail line is integrated with the light rail expansion from downtown to Oakland. Without the link to the downtown line, this service, in my opinion, wouldn't have enough rider volume. There is a similar study under wall to connect the greater Allegheny valley to downtown via commuter rail.

Jermaine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jermaine said...

Interesting discussion on the T in pittsburgh....