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  • DowntownUptownOaklandEastEndBusRapidTransit(BRT)Project




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    Project Description

    The proposed project will connect Downtown Pittsburgh with Uptown, Oakland, and other East End neighborhoods. It includes changes to both physical infrastructure and transit operations along the Downtown-Uptown-Oakland portion of the corridor (BRT Core) along with changes to transit operations and stations in the East End portion of the corridor Highland Park, Squirrel Hill, and the East Busway. Figure 1 and Figure 2 illustrate the proposed infrastructure and routing changes, respectively, and are further discussed below.


    The BRT Core corridor alignment would extend east from Liberty Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh to Neville Street at Centre Avenue in North Oakland, primarily using Fifth and Forbes Avenues. Dedicated transit lanes and BRT stations would be installed along this portion of the project corridor.

    At the eastern limit of the BRT Core corridor, the proposed improvements would also provide a new and direct connection to the Martin Luther King, Jr. East Busway, an existing two-lane bus guideway serving the City of Pittsburghs eastern neighborhoods and suburbs. Additionally, BRT service would be extended to both the Squirrel Hill and Highland Park neighborhoods, operating in mixed-flow lanes with BRT stations and select queue jump lane locations.

    As shown on Figure 1, the proposed BRT Core improvements extend a total of 7.4 miles using existing surface streets plus an additional 3.8 miles of the existing East Busway (each direction). The Highland Park Branch extends 3.4 miles (each direction) and the Squirrel Hill Branch extends 2.9 miles (each direction), both of which would remain mixed-flow.

    The following major capital improvements are proposed as part of the project:

    Dedicated Lanes: Curbside running, dedicated bus-only lanes are proposed throughout the length of the BRT Core corridor.

    Bus Bump-outs: Bump-outs may be considered at certain station locations along the Squirrel Hill and Highland Park branches to further facilitate fast and reliable bus operations.

    Enhanced/Branded Stations: There are three primary station categories being considered: Neighborhood, Intermediate, and Transit Center. The stations would range in size from a length of 15 feet (Neighborhood) to 120 feet (Transit Center), with a platform width approximately 10 feet wide. At narrow locations, station width may have to be reduced to 8 feet or 5 feet. The 8 feet wide stations are similar to the 10 feet wide stations. The 5 feet wide station is made up of a wind screen, roof and lean bar to allow minimum ADA access. A total of 32 platforms are proposed along the BRT Core corridor. An additional 24 station pairs (48 platforms) are proposed along the Highland Park Branch and Squirrel Hill Branch (12 pairs each). Four station locations (8 platforms) along the East Busway will be upgraded to include branding consistent with the BRT system. The proposed locations of stations are based on existing bus stops, intersection locations, and corridor activity generators. A typical station would consist of a platform with shelters, passenger seating, signage, real-time passenger information, bicycle racks, fare collection equipment, and trash receptacles.

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    Figure 1: Project Infrastructure Overview Map

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    Traffic Signals: One hundred-one traffic signal modifications or replacements are proposed along the entire BRT corridor. Changes may include altering existing geometric and striping plans, upgrading controller equipment, adding transit signal priority (TSP) to improve traffic progression, provide bus priority, improve bus service reliability, reduce delays and improve pedestrian movements.

    Battery Electric, Branded Buses and Supporting Infrastructure: Twenty five new battery electric, articulated buses are proposed for the BRT Core and East Busway service. The Squirrel Hill and Highland Park branches will be operated with 34 diesel buses, retrofit for branding to make them similar to the new battery electric buses. New charging stations and retrofitting of existing maintenance facilities to house and support this new fleet technology are also included in the project.

    Dedicated Bicycle Facilities: Dedicated bicycle facilities are also proposed throughout the BRT Core corridor to provide effective multimodal transferability and access in the corridor.


    As shown on Figure 2, the routing changes would extend outside of the BRT Core corridor along three branches Highland Park BRT (alignment along existing 71B route), Squirrel Hill BRT (alignment along existing 61D route), and East Busway BRT (alignment along existing P3 route). The proposed BRT amenities would enhance existing services for the 61 series (Routes 61A, 61B ,61C, and 61D), the 71 series (Routes 71A, 71B, 71C, and 71D), and P3 routes. The Port Authority is currently developing a comprehensive operational plan to coordinate these and other connecting bus services within and adjacent to the corridor.

    The proposed BRT service within the BRT Core corridor would operate at least 21 to 22 hours per day, seven days a week, with an effective 2.5 to 3 minute headway for buses during weekday peak periods and an effective 4 to 7 minute headway for buses during weekday off-peak periods. Weekend service would operate with effective 5 to 7 minute headways. These effective headways would be achieved by combining the Highland Park BRT, Squirrel Hill BRT, and East Busway BRT services within the BRT Core corridor. Specific operating plans for each branch are under development. The service along the Squirrel Hill branch will operate at 5 minute headways during the weekday peak period and 8 to 10 minute headways in the weekday off-peak period, with weekend service operating at 10 to 20 minute headways. The service along the Highland Park branch will operate at 10 minute headways during the weekday peak period and 15 to 20 minutes during the weekday off-peak period and the weekend.

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    Figure 2: Proposed Routing Overview Map

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    Project Purpose and Need

    The purpose and need for this project was completed on May 25, 2017. The submitted purpose and need is provided for references as Attachment A.

    Project Costs

    The cost estimate for this project has been developed to a 10 percent concept level plan with limited engineering design drawings developed. As such, a contingency of 30 percent was included within the cost estimate to account for unknowns within the design. As the design progresses, the contingency is expected to decrease. However, the 30 percent contingency is acceptable according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and Federal Transit Administration design guidelines for this level of design. This estimate includes the following:

    Roadway reconstruction

    Signal replacements/upgrades


    Upgrades to communications

    Purchase of Battery Electric Buses and upgrades to Diesel Buses

    Upgrades to Support Facilities (addition of electric charging station and East Liberty Garage facility improvement to house battery electric vehicles)

    Design and Construction Engineering Costs

    Alternatives Analysis, Environmental Studies, and Preliminary Engineering Costs (post entrance into Project Development)

    Administrative Costs


    It is expected that design of the system will begin in 2018, with construction starting in 2019 and ending

    in 2020. A 2.5-percent escalation was applied to costs beyond the year 2017. Table 1 summarizes the

    costs by category and by year.

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    Table 1: Costs by Category and by Year

    Category 2015-2017 2018 2019 2020 Total

    Roadway Construction $0 $0 $22,017,721 $22,017,721 $44,035,442

    Traffic Signals / Communications

    $0 $0 $8,840,002 $8,840,002 $17,680,004

    Stations $0 $0 $11,447,500 $11,447,500 $22,895,000

    Right of Way $0 $1,254,737 $0 $0 $1,254,737

    Buses (no escalation) $0 $11,555,474 $11,844,361 $12,140,470 $35,540,305

    Support Facilities $0 $0 $3,779,470 $3,779,470 $7,558,940

    Contingency $0 $11,556,697 $5,778,349 $3,469,372 $20,804,418

    Professional Services $2,770,772 $0 $0 $0 $2,770,772

    Alternatives Analysis, NEPA, PE

    $0 $2,436,813 $16,076,888 $15,615,093 $34,128,795

    Total (2017 $) $2,770,772 $26,803,721 $79,784,291 $77,309,628 $186,668,413

    Escalation (2.5% per year)

    $0 $381,206 $3,439,459 $5,010,922 $8,831,587

    Total with escalation $2,770,772 $27,184,928 $83,223,750 $82,320,550 $195,500,000

    The total cost of the projec