Monday, January 12, 2009

Break the Yoke

What do my favorite Mexican tienda and my favorite 50s style diner have in common? They're in blighted neighborhoods along light-rail tracks. Between tax dollars for transit-area development, the drink tax, and a general scare of gasoline prices, public transportation and these potentially vibrant areas are getting even more attention.

Not surprisingly, people are discovering it's fun to break the yoke of the car. Even if they have to commute to work during the week, they're excited to walk to their quaint neighborhood market on the weekend and not deal with the evil demon of Penn DOT road-closings. Or maybe after sitting in rush hour traffic to get home, they just want to walk over to the neighborhood bar for happy hour. Personally, I learned this lesson after a month of driving in NYC-area traffic.

Up until now, the transit-center focus in Pittsburgh has been on East Liberty. Target, Whole Foods, and the East Busway are proving to be a sound marriage. Now is the time to learn from our lessons and expand. The money is flowing and our neighborhoods need help. Our love affair with strip malls and McMansions can come to an end or at least learn to co-habitate with pedestrian-friendly fun urban environments where going for a walk doesn't have to be on a treadmill and where going out for a night-on-the-town doesn't involve any parking headaches or traffic and where buying a house still can cost less than $50,000.

On second thought, don't redevelop these neighborhoods. I don't want my favorite businesses driven out from high rent prices or over-run with band-wagoners. (Yes, that was a joke.)


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

I read the article in the PG today as well and couldn't tell whether the author was for or against the question asking if "Transit can help grow neighborhoods"?

From article:
"In Pittsburgh's Allentown section, where a little-used light-rail line cuts down the main street, vacant and blighted storefronts abut vibrant businesses."

He doesn't mention that the light rail line mentioned only runs a few times in the morning and a few times at night. Is it little used by riders or little used by the Port Authority. That's a huge difference.

Perhaps a small thing, but seems misleading to readers. Hopefully we all see through it and continue to push for the transit-friendly neighborhoods as well as new T lines!

illyrias said...

Good comments. You can find some in-depth route analysis here:

There are quite a few bus routes that go through Allentown. And the recommendation for the 46K (which parallels the Allentown light-rail) is to run the light rail more often.

I'm all for more T. :)

Jermaine said...

Thanks! I'm all for more T as well. I'll check out the link...

Jermaine said...

Very interesting and slightly confusing. I understand that a lot of studies need to be done to determine which routes overlap, trip speed, etc. I'll continue to read through the site, so thanks again for the link.

At this stage I'll take anything as a sign of progress. Hopefully all of these new plans for new routes correspond with some type of "master plan" to extend and/or build new T lines as well.

Bram Reichbaum said...

Wow. I'm sure I've been past these neighborhoods or been near them on McKnight road or whatever, but I never knew they existed. A "tienda"??

FWIW, I think most of our investment dollars in this vein are going into "transit-oriented development", the operative word been "development", not so much "transit", and the emphasis is going to be around the East Liberty / East Busway thing and the T. I haven't heard anything about actually developing more transit (except for the Peduto Line).

Sean said...

Won't somebody please think of Lawrenceville!