Struggles on the T line
Almost 10,000 commuters found a new road to work this morning as the major portion of Pittsburgh's light-rail service closed for six months of construction.
Riders of the heavily traveled 42S South Hills Village line from Beechview caught shuttle buses to detour around the Palm Garden Bridge, which carries buses and T cars over Route 51. The Port Authority is spending $9.4 million to rehabilitate the bridge near the Liberty Tunnels.
Like most commuters this morning, Carrie Willkomm, 29, of Beechview complained of the inconvenience even though she knew about the changes ahead of time.
"This is a pain in the butt," Willkomm said. "I left my house about a half-hour early, because I had no idea how parking would be.
"To be honest, I'm still sort of confused," she said.
Willkomm said she lives nears the Fallowfield Station, where she could catch the 42F shuttle, but she drove 10 minutes to the Dormont Station to catch the 37D bus, which would drop her off closer to her work at Gateway Center.
Patti Rossi, 42, of Beechview, boarded the 42F at Fallowfield and said she was annoyed by the slow pace of the bus.
"It seems like this is going to take a lot longer every day because we have to go through the Liberty Tunnels. The light-rail is much faster," Rossi said.
Port Authority spokesman Bob Grove said ample notice has been given to commuters, but he expects a certain amount of confusion for the first few days of the new system.
The shuttle buses had an extra Port Authority employee on board to answer questions about transfers. The map in the Gateway Center station had been changed to reflect the 44S rail-shuttle.
Sheila Barry, 36, of Mt. Lebanon, said the morning commute was "a piece of cake," but she's worried about getting home later.
"I think I know where I'm going, but it might be a different story later on when it's darker," Barry said. "I hope the evening commute goes as smoothly, but I think I might be getting home late tonight."
Michael Dillon, 33, of Dormont, said he also had a smooth ride this morning.
"The only new thing for me is I have to really check the bus schedule," Dillon said. "I'm used to just getting to the station and waiting for the next train. The buses are a little more scheduled."
The Port Authority said almost 70 percent of the T's 25,000 daily riders use the Beechview line. That represents about 8,750 people, or about 17,500 roundtrips.
The Palm Garden transit bridge carrying the Beechview T line and South Busway lanes over Route 51 is closed to bus traffic.
The 42S South Hills Village via Beechview T line is shut down six months.
All South Busway buses will be detoured for eight months.
The 44S temporary T shuttle will run on the Beechview line between Overbrook Junction and the Traymore stop. Riders may use it to transfer to the unaffected Overbrook T line or to two special bus routes.
The 37D special bus route will run nonstop from Dormont Station to Downtown at Liberty Avenue at Gateway No. 4, and Stanwix Street at Boulevard of the Allies for six months.
The 42F special bus route will serve T stops on Broadway Avenue in Beechview between Fallowfield Station and Neeld Avenue for six months. Riders should wait on the outbound side of the street. The bus will stop Downtown at Fifth Avenue and Ross Street and Forbes Avenue at the City-County Building.