Port Authority Keeps Moving Forward
The public transit system in Pittsburgh is often negatively compared to transit systems in other large cities, such as New York or Chicago. While these criticisms may have merit, Port Authority is working hard to change this and implementing improvements across the board to make your commute easier.
[label style=”darkred”]The Wayfinding Project [/label]
“We are currently in the beginning stages of a project to improve wayfinding signage throughout the system,” explained Heather Pharo, Communications Manager for Port Authority. “Essentially, what wayfinding means, is that it’s a system of signs that help guide people to their destinations, and in our case, it’s going to help people use our system to get them from point A to point B.” Working with CHK America, a national company specializing in wayfinding programs, Port Authority is looking to change the way riders navigate the system.
While still in the initial phase, the concept is to create signage that is easier to understand and that provides more information than current signage. Though many T and busway stations offer route maps, most stops across the city consist of two elements: the blue and white ‘flag’ that indicates a bus stop and the ‘blade’ that lists buses that use that location. The blade also features an ‘information number’ which can be used with TrueTime services to locate the bus stop in their system.
The improved signage includes a redesigned flag and blade, with two new additions: a ‘lollipop,’ or round pole topper featuring the stop number, as well as a map of connected bus routes. The lollipop will allow riders to locate the exact stop they need, alleviating confusion in areas such as downtown, where bus stops are plentiful. These new signs will make navigating the system easier for everyone, regardless of their familiarity.
“As a transit agency, we always have to keep in mind that there’s a very wide array of people using our system,” said Pharo, “So we’re really glad we can do something like this that can help a lot of different people.”
This multi-year project with be expanded in phases, beginning with key locations downtown and on the North Shore. The next few phases will likely reach out to fixed guideway stations, such as busway and T stations, and key transfer points. Keep a look-out for these improved signs this spring!
[label style=”green”]ConnectCard and Ticketing Improvements [/label]
[dropcap background=”yes”]M[/dropcap]ost Port Authority riders are familiar with the re-loadable ConnectCards that serve riders weekly, monthly, or annually. In early February, Port Authority announced a new addition to its ticketing services: single trip tickets. These affordable paper tickets allow customers the convenience of riding on Port Authority buses without the hassle of exact change or the needless purchase of a week card. Single trip tickets can be purchased at any ConnectCard machine across the city, including those at the T-stations and the airport.
The ConnectCard itself is also benefitting from the stream of improvements. ConnectCard holders no longer need to ask for a paper transfer on multiple bus trips; the ConnectCard will do it for them. ConnectCard users once followed the same protocol for transfers as cash users, which is to request a transfer from the operator. System improvements now allow ConnectCard riders to transfer between buses seamlessly, as long as the transfer is made within three hours of the first transaction.
There are more ConnectCard improvements on the way. While there is no formal release date, Port Authority is working on an online portal to give users access to their ConnectCard accounts. This will allow users to reload their cards online or sign up for automatic renewals, eliminating the extra step of going in person to reload. With everything available online, users won’t have to worry about a low balance or forgetting to renew at the end of the month.
[label style=”purple”]TrueTime Is Mobile! [/label]
While bus users have largely become acclimated to referencing Port Authority’s TrueTime website (truetime.portauthority.org), independent app developers have also benefitted from access to TrueTime data. Using this data, they can design new apps or adapt existing apps to more easily display arrival times. Port Authority does not endorse any independent app but fully supports developers in the creation of these services. Riders are encouraged to try several apps and find one that suits their needs. A list of apps, both for iPhone and Android, can be found on their website: portauthority.org/paac/RiderServices/MobileApps.
Riders can also receive bus times by email. By creating a TrueTime account, users can personalize time tracking emails by time, bus stop, and even days, creating even more ways to connect to TrueTime. Never miss a bus again! SHM