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Lamar seeks to remove bus shelters in Carnegie

Randy Jarosz | For The Signal Item
A bus shelter in Carnegie — this one at Washington and Trimble avenues — is one of four shelters facing removal by owner Lamar Advertising.

Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Four commuters trying to shield themselves from a bitterly cold wind stood inside a Plexiglas shelter Monday morning waiting for Port Authority's 31 bus at the Washington Gardens stop in Carnegie.

They may soon find themselves standing in the elements, however, as the bus shelter at Washington and Franklin avenues is one of four in Carnegie that owner Lamar Advertising wants to remove. The bus stops would remain.

“It blocks the cold, it blocks the rain — why take it away?” said Delsen Johnson, of Carnegie, who said he waits at the shelter most mornings.

In a letter to the borough, Lamar said the shelters in Carnegie were not generating enough revenue from their advertising space. The agency plans to relocate them elsewhere.

Shelters at the following bus stops are also slated for possible removal: Third Street at Main Street, Mansfield Avenue at Broadway Street and Washington Avenue at Trimble Street.

“The majority of the locations are not performing well enough to offset the initial investment that was made to install these shelters along with the ongoing cost of maintaining and operation (sic) the shelters,” the letter stated.

Lamar must earn at least $2,170 per shelter per year “in order to simply break even,” the letter stated.

Larissa Simko, transit coordinator for Lamar, said Port Authority bus stop changes can lead to shelters being removed or relocated. Port Authority spokesman Jim Ritchie confirmed that a bus stop at Mansfield Avenue and Broadway Street has been discontinued for at least a year. There are no plans to eliminate service at any of the other three stops, he said.

Simko said Lamar continues to keep up shelters that remain after buses no longer stop there, and the company spends $400,000 a year on shelter maintenance. Lamar wouldn't save money by eliminating the Carnegie shelters, she said.

Johnson called Lamar's plan to remove the shelters “pure selfishness.” “Why take it away from the public because you're not making money?” he said.

Another Carnegie commuter, Vivian Edmonds, agreed.

“It just makes sense to keep it up,” she said. “You're already got it up, just leave it up.”

The Lamar letter also cited the discontinuation of bus stops by the Port Authority as a reason for removing the shelters. The ad agency said the transit authority is “still in the process of working on a consolidation plan and additional stops may be eliminated.”

Ritchie said Port Authority is “always looking at opportunities to consolidate or pull out stops that are not being used.”

Borough council president Pat Catena said he intends to talk to Lamar representatives in an effort to retain the shelters. He said the stops along Washington Avenue are heavily utilized.

“I'm constantly seeing people in those shelters,” he said.

Mayor Jack Kobistek said he sees heavy usage at the three active stops, especially those on Washington Avenue.

He said safety is also a factor.

“It's safer to be in a shelter while you're waiting for a bus,” he said. “If it's an active bus stop, I prefer the shelter to be up and running.”

Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810.

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