County exec Rich Fitzgerald got the attention of the Port Authority: they're promising, along with the transit union, that trolley service along the new, $500 million North Shore connector won't be horrible again as it was over the weekend. From Len Barcousky:
Port Authority CEO Steve Bland said the mass transit agency was scheduling extra trains to handle crowds attending baseball games at PNC Park tonight, Saturday and Sunday.
The Port Authority came in for heavy criticism from riders and from Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald after operator shortages caused missed trips and long delays last weekend.
Demand for service was higher because of a series of home Pirates games -- including a fireworks game Saturday night -- and the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday.
Mr. Bland and Mr. Fitzgerald appeared at a joint news conference Downtown at Gateway T station today to unveil plans to reduce problems this weekend.
Mr. Bland apologized for last weekend's delays, which he called inexcusable.
Lack of enough operators willing to work overtime to run extra trains was at the heart of the problem, he said.
One note: even if the transit agency lined trains up all along the new tunnel route they could only transport a few hundred people at a time, let alone the thousands streaming out of a major event on the North Side, like (say) a Steelers game. It's going to be "chaos" after the games this fall, writes Jake Haulk at the Allegheny Institute:
Let's be clear about PAT's difficulty. The system is not designed to handle massive numbers of riders all showing up at one time wanting to board a T car. Light rail cars can hold around 200 people jam packed, 400 on a double car train. If 4,000 people arrive at the stop nearest PNC Park in a short period wanting to get on arriving inbound service with empty double car trains, it would take ten trains to serve them all. Thus, even if cars arrived every five minutes, riders at the tail end of the long queue would have to wait almost an hour for a ride. And providing trains every five minutes is very fast service given the logistics involved in getting trains to the North Shore and turning them around to head southbound.
So what will happen when 10,000 or 15,000 Steelers fans clamor to get on a train following a game? Chaos. The people who envisioned the T system as a big city way to serve ballparks forgot a very important difference. Light rail is not the New York subway or Chicago's commuter rail that operate long trains capable of carrying thousands away from a station. Moreover, the stations are not end-of-the-line stops so passengers can board trains going in both directions to reach final destinations.
The PAT light rail system carries on average about 24,000 riders on a weekday. That's roughly 12,000 in each direction to and from the South Hills with the bulk of those trips occurring during morning and afternoon rush hours that extend over two and a half to three hours. If a third of inbound commuters all showed up at one station at the same time during the period of maximum available service, those at the end of the queue would wait a long time, and even longer if the station was not the first inbound stop because the cars would be partially full already.