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Event in East Liberty to celebrate transit improvements for Penn Hills, Garfield, East Hills riders

| Monday, Oct. 3, 2016, 3:29 p.m.

Penn Hills bus riders, public transit advocates and Port Authority representatives are gearing up to meet with Garfield and East Hills riders Oct. 8 to celebrate newly restored bus service into East Liberty.

The event will take place from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater in East Liberty as riders, public transit advocates and Port Authority representatives celebrate increased service in Garfield and Penn Hills that began Sept. 25.

The Port Authority Board of Directors in June allotted $378,000 to extend the 79 East Hills route to the Lincoln Loop via Mt. Carmel Road on weekdays and weekends, plus $18,000 to offer more weekday service on the 79 East Hills route using the P17 Lincoln Park Flyer.

Molly Nichols, a community organizer of Pittsburghers for Public Transit, said the event will highlight the expanded service and acknowledge the efforts to reach a common goal.

“So many hundreds of residents came together to advocate for (more accessible transit),” Nichols said.

Port Authority spokesman Adam Brandolph said the efforts of those advocating for a change in service challenged the board to research efficiency, effectiveness and equity of 80 unique service requests, and the changes to the 79 East Hills route fit within the board's budget and vehicles available.

“The Port Authority is excited to be offering this additional service to the residents of East Hills, Garfield and Penn Hills. It shows that our service request process and the guidelines put in place last year work for Allegheny County,” Brandolph said.

Nichols said the expanded service, especially on weekends, affords riders opportunities to go shopping and attend cultural events.

She expects advocacy efforts for public transit to continue in Allegheny County. A neighborhood in West Mifflin known as Mifflin Estates, a housing complex with more than 200 units that is more than a mile from a bus stop, and the Hill District, North Hills and Millvale are examples of areas with transit access issues, she said.

“Hopefully we (Garfield, East Hills and Penn Hills riders) can work with other communities to get transportation,” Nichols said.

Samson X Horne is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7845 or shorne@tribweb.com.

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