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Extended bus route in Baldwin Borough gives riders more options

| Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015, 5:33 p.m.
Jennifer and Jon Herron, both 30, stand by a new bus stop across from their home in Baldwin Borough on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015. Jennifer Herron lives in Baldwin and works Downtown – she carpools but soon will take the new Port Authority 44 Knoxville, which will stop right by her house.
Stephanie Strasburg | Trib Total Media
Jennifer and Jon Herron, both 30, stand by a new bus stop across from their home in Baldwin Borough on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015. Jennifer Herron lives in Baldwin and works Downtown – she carpools but soon will take the new Port Authority 44 Knoxville, which will stop right by her house.
Community organizer for Pittsburghers for Public Transit Molly Nichols of Regent Square pushes her bike up a hill in Baldwin Borough to one of the new bus stops that will be available to the area on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015. Nichols organized the community to work to regain some bus service that was eliminated  in previous years.
Stephanie Strasburg | Trib Total Media
Community organizer for Pittsburghers for Public Transit Molly Nichols of Regent Square pushes her bike up a hill in Baldwin Borough to one of the new bus stops that will be available to the area on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015. Nichols organized the community to work to regain some bus service that was eliminated in previous years.
Jennifer and Jon Herron, both 30, discuss the new bus stop across from their home in Baldwin Borough on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015. Jennifer Herron lives in Baldwin and works Downtown – she carpools to get to work but soon will be able to take the 44 Knoxville, which will stop right by her house.
Stephanie Strasburg | Trib Total Media
Jennifer and Jon Herron, both 30, discuss the new bus stop across from their home in Baldwin Borough on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015. Jennifer Herron lives in Baldwin and works Downtown – she carpools to get to work but soon will be able to take the 44 Knoxville, which will stop right by her house.

Jennifer Herron won't mind waking up earlier to get to work, or waiting outside in the winter.

Heading outside to catch the bus a little after 6 a.m. will beat carpooling every morning to get to work Downtown from her house in Baldwin Borough.

“I haven't taken a bus, probably since I was 16,” Herron said. “But it's going to save me money and get me to and from work.”

Herron, 30, is a prospective rider for a bus line extension into Baldwin that takes effect Sept. 8. Port Authority of Allegheny County made four recent additions to service.

A grassroots effort called Buses for Baldwin pushed for changes there, and Port Authority in June approved the route extensions at a cost of $1.4 million due in part to money being made available through a 2013 state transportation bill.

Baldwin service on the 44 Knoxville will run from Churchview Garden apartments down Churchview Avenue, through Knoxville and Beltzhoover and into Downtown via Warrington Avenue and the transit tunnel. Service will run every 30 minutes from 5:30 a.m. to midnight, Mondays through Fridays.

Port Authority estimates the extension will cost about $562,000 a year and draw 62,565 rider trips, the most of any of the four new extensions.

One stop is at Churchview Avenue and Revo Street, in front of the house Herron owns with her husband, Jon.

They work opposite shifts, and Herron often relies on her mother for rides to her job at BNY Mellon Inc.

Since 2011, when the 50 Spencer route was cut, residents in the area have trekked up to two miles along the shoulder of hilly Churchview, which has no sidewalks, to get to the nearest bus stop.

“There's always people walking up and down this street,” Herron said, but motorists often don't follow the 25 mph speed limit.

Molly Nichols heads Pittsburghers for Public Transit, an advocacy group.

She galvanized Baldwin residents through the Buses for Baldwin campaign, which included group discussions and speaking at Port Authority meetings.

“There were times it was really challenging,” Nichols said, recalling supporters collected more than 1,500 signatures on petitions.

“They would get really frustrated when they would hear (from Port Authority) ‘We couldn't get any route back, we don't have any money,' and they just kept pushing,” she said.

The new Baldwin service won't reach Willet Road, a long residential street off Churchview.

Nichols said the group is seeking parking along Churchview that could become an informal park-and-ride.

Karen Smith was among the Buses for Baldwin members who thanked the board for approving the service extensions. Board chairman Bob Hurley urged her to help get the word out to residents.

Another extended route that takes effect this fall is through Groveton Village, an Allegheny County Housing Authority development in Coraopolis.

Kathy Csonka, vice president of the residents' council there, helped arrange meetings last year with Port Authority and local officials.

Recently, she's helped to spread the word about the extension on the 20 Kennedy.

“It's going to help people,” she said. “There's a lot of people that don't have cars, and they need to get to places like doctors' appointments and shopping for food.”

Service also was extended on the 91 Butler Street route through the RIDC Park in O'Hara, and on the 56 Lincoln Place route to Penn State's Greater Allegheny campus in McKeesport.

Patricia Davis, manager at Churchview Garden apartments, said previous service cuts affected how the complex could advertise to potential tenants who desired transit service.

Now, Churchview Garden will raffle off preloaded ConnectCards to help lure first-time riders, she said. Many of the 300-plus residents in the 144-unit complex are seniors.

“This is fantastic, that they're bringing it back,” Davis said.

Melissa Daniels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at 412-380-8511 or mdaniels@tribweb.com.

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