Sunday, March 29, 2009

Connectivity Debate

If you could do one light rail project in Pittsburgh, which one would you choose? Some prioritize the link between downtown and the airport. Others, see greater value connecting the Golden Triangle with the innovation center in Oakland:

... [Dennis Yablonsky (chief executive of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development) said] to pursue the longtime goal of the conference for some sort of mass transit link between Downtown, the second-largest economic engine in the state, and Oakland, which comes in third.

In addition to linking the two business centers, a transit link also would provide students access to Downtown, which would make the area more vibrant after dark.

When I first started blogging, I would have posted that better transit to and from the airport was the much more important initiative. I viewed Pittsburgh as too isolated and in dire need of increasing global connectivity. I still think that is the case, but investing in the College Corridor is crucial to Pittsburgh's future prosperity.

Developing the College Corridor is a great idea. If I could funnel Pittsburgh resources in only one direction, that's the avenue. What or who is standing in the way?


JRoth said...

What is standing in the way is some pretty tough topography.

Who is standing in the way is "No We Can't" pols.

There's some background here.

Brett said...

I have been thinking about this for a long time, and it's a very interesting question. One big stumbling block seems to be the cost. I've heard people throw out numbers with b's in front when they talk about how much it'd cost to connect Oakland and Downtown...but every time I hear them I frankly don't believe it. There needs to be some light shed on what it'd look like and how it'd be done, because we've been laying rail in this country for over 150 years and it seems ridiculous that it only gets continuously more expensive.

Another element is the Port Authority itself. It's awkward quasi-governmental status means that it's held accountable to very few, least of all the passengers. The Port Authority gets a much higher ROI from lobbying than from actually improving service, something that clearly displays a large structure problem.