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Corbett christens $960K bus shelter, bicycle station in Robinson

| Tuesday, July 29, 2014, 1:21 p.m.
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
A press conference for a new 'super stop' in Robinson Tuesday, July 29, 2014. Outside IKEA, a European idea for transit debuts with amenities that include bike racks, picnic tables and benches, and a free-standing bike repair station.

PennDOT officials and Gov. Tom Corbett on Tuesday showed off a new intersection and bus “superstop” at Robinson Town Centre — though financing remains shaky for the stop's main shuttle service.

The Airport Corridor Transportation Association operates a shuttle to take riders from the stop to work points along the corridor. Corbett touted the $966,000 revamped intersection in front of IKEA that includes two large bus shelters and tables. It's expected to alleviate congestion and improve pedestrian and rider safety at the shopping center.

PennDOT paid about $775,000 of the cost, IKEA chipped in $170,000, and PNC Bank contributed $21,000.

“What was obviously necessary for this area to grow more was the ability to get workers from the city of Pittsburgh and the suburbs, that may not have vehicles of their own, on some type of transit system to get here,” Corbett said.

A transportation funding bill lawmakers passed last year helped with funding, he said.

Before, the state and federal governments split the cost of the shuttle. Then federal money dried up last year. The state law provides 85 percent of the shuttle's cost — $655,000 annually — but the transportation association must come up with about $98,500, said Lynn Manion, its executive director.

That's money the nonprofit doesn't yet have.

“We've raised about $30,000 so far,” Manion said. “... I'm hoping it will come together, but until we have a commitment, of course I'm worried about it.”

The association is considering charging a fare but said that money couldn't be used for its local match, Manion said.

The airport shuttle transports 250 to 300 riders daily, 95 percent of whom are people going to work, Manion said.

Courtney Austin is among them.

“I come out here to work,” said Austin, 23, of Wilkinsburg, as she waited for the shuttle to her job at RIDC Park. “I think the intersection (traffic) lights needed to be here. It was hard to get across the street. And when it was raining, everyone would try to crowd under this (smaller) shelter and cars would be going past, splashing everyone.”

PennDOT spokesman Rich Kirkpatrick said the agency would try to help the association. If it can't raise matching money, he said, “it's hard to say at this point, but we understand the importance of maintaining that service.”

Corbett's spokesman Steve Chizmar said the state wants “to help ensure the service continues in the region.”

PennDOT money helps fund a shuttle called Heritage Community Initiatives WorkLink that connects riders from Port Authority routes to employers in the Mon Valley.

The Robinson superstop includes bicycle racks and a station where bicyclists can make minor repairs. The bicycle lanes connect the stop to the Montour Trail, a 40-mile bicycle and pedestrian rail-trail.

Bobby Kerlik is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7886 or bkerlik@tribweb.com.

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