Pittsburgh light rail

General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

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Pittsburgh light rail

Postby Nyterider » Wed Oct 11, 2006 4:27 pm

It was a weekend so I didn't get a sense of what weekday ridership is like. I traveled all routes, including the northbound portion of the 52 which is currently being used by all trolleys to Pittsburgh because one of the tracks in the Mount Washington tunnel is out of service. I do have a few comments and questions. The Overbrook line was recently rebuilt at quite a cost to accomodate the large PAT LRVs. So I was disappointed to learn that the maximum speed here is only 30 mph. It's still faster, if only because of fewer stops, than via Beechview. Is there any place on the system they can go faster than about 30? The southern end of the line to Libary was just like a ride on SEPTA's route 101.

How old is the Mount Washington tunnel? Was it trolley only before PAT rebuilt it? And what was the deal with the Mt. Lebanon tunnel? Just something they built to get rid of some slow street running or to appease residents? And the almost unused branch to Penn Station is convenient to the convention center and is probably aimed at eventually getting light rail service onto the East Busway. Any idea where those plans stand?
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PATransit light rail...... in Salamanca NY

Postby n3ddy » Fri Oct 12, 2007 10:43 pm

Amazing thing.... this evening I was passing thru Salamanca, NY, and at a truck stop just off I-86 I noticed an oversized load holed up for the night..... Appeared to be a Light Rail vehicle lettered up for PATransit ( Port Authority of Pittsburgh area) - was a two car unit together on an extremely long trailer with multiple axles. I wonder if this thing was going somewhere for overhaul, or if it had been sold and the Indians in Salamanca are going to run a light rail casino shuttle from downtown??
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Postby kaiserworks » Thu Oct 18, 2007 6:02 pm

Who knows with PATransit, with all the budget cuts they may have sold an older unit because I doubt they could afford offsite overhuals at this time
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Re: Pittsburgh light rail during a recent visit.

Postby Patrick Boylan » Sat Dec 20, 2008 11:09 pm

Mt Washington tunnel was trolley only before PAT rebuilt it.
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Re: Pittsburgh light rail during a recent visit.

Postby polybalt » Sun Dec 21, 2008 1:21 pm

Is there any place on the system they can go faster than about 30?


The LRV's are designed for speeds up to about 50mph. Soon after Stage I opened ( Beechview and the downtown subway) the cars were modified to prevent them from exceeding 37mph. At the time, the cars had monomotor propulsion. PAT was having trouble keeping the monomotor gear boxes functioning, and the idea was to reduce the stresses on the gearbox caused by higher speed operation. As I am sure you noticed, the Phase I route has lots of very sharp curves and steep grades. The signals are electronic trip-stop equipped ( the signal system is very similar to NYCT signal practice) but there is no overspeed protection. One reason for permanently limiting the speed may have been to prevent derailments caused by overspeed operations.

The Overbrook line was designed for higher speeds, although the hilly topography limited design speeds to 40 and 45 mph, with a short stretch of 50. Cab signals were added to Overbrook to provide overspeed protection, but have, to my knowledge, not yet been put in service. tTe overspeed limit remains, although the new LRV's do not have monomotors and the exisistng monomotors have, I think , been largely replaced.

And what was the deal with the Mt. Lebanon tunnel?


The only was to make any sense out of the Phase I system is to remember is was originally designed for rubber-tired automated cars (people movers). They cannot operate on the street, so grade separation was designed for any street-running sections of the old streetcar line. The Mt. Lebanon tunnel is one of them. It goes under a cemetary, so an elevated structure would not be appropriate. The Beechview segment was also to be underground, but the community insisted that the tracks remain at grade on the street to allow more stops and easiter boarding.


And the almost unused branch to Penn Station is convenient to the convention center and is probably aimed at eventually getting light rail service onto the East Busway. Any idea where those plans stand?


The Penn Station branch was completed with Phase I and placed in service along with a large downtown mid-day layover yard located there. As far as I know, the layover yard was never used. Service to Penn Station was poorly patronized and was cut back. When I was working there 8 years ago there were two PM peak outbound trips only. I believe there is now no service at all. Passengers tranferring to the East Busway can do so relatively easily at Steel Plaza, where the busses are running on nearby streets. The current project to extend the LRT under the Allegany River included a short extension of the Penn Station to the convention center, but that part of the project was dropped for budget reasons.
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Pittsburgh Light Rail

Postby driver10 » Mon Apr 06, 2009 2:56 pm

its my understanding that within five years, pitts is going to have a light rail system going all the way up to the famous city of erie. and if i am not mistaken,there will be a need always for those to travel and go places in the city of pitts, so,i am pushing to gain the means to become a light rail operator and i am believing inside of five years,there will be a terminal in almost every city, as the thought of building a light rail system starting in the far side of pitts, {western lower}
as the thought of there being in erie very soon a means to go over to canada via a ferry? so all those in favor say yes!!!!
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Re: Pittsburgh Commuter Rail - PATrain

Postby ironhorse734 » Fri May 29, 2009 1:05 pm

driver10 wrote:its my understanding that within five years, pitts is going to have a light rail system going all the way up to the famous city of erie.


I wish, but I doubt even the North Shore connector will be done by then.
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PAAC Light rail/Duquesne University

Postby atsf sp » Sun Aug 02, 2009 1:25 pm

What line and stop would you take to get cloesest to Duquesne University? Would the Duquesne Incline be closest to the Campus? How would you get to this? Where is the main maintenance facility for the light rail? Are any PCCs still operable?
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Re: PAAC Light rail/Duquesne University

Postby polybalt » Sun Aug 02, 2009 2:33 pm

Duquense University is on a high bluff immediately southeast of downtown. Closest light rail stop is Steel Plaza. All light rail trains stop there. Walk south and east to Forbes, then east on Forbes and turn up the hill. The Duquense Incline is nowhere near the University.

The LRT shop is at the outer end of the line at South Hills Village, beyond the passenger terminal. You can get a good idea of the layout from the top floor of the parking structure at the station. I think there is a PCC on display ouitside the Shop office, but otherwise no PCC's are left on the property.

The Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Washington PA, 25 miles south along a section of the old interurban line, does operate Pittsburgh PCC's from time to time.
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Re: Pittsburgh Commuter Rail - PATrain

Postby Suburban Station » Wed Aug 31, 2011 2:37 pm

ironhorse734 wrote:I wish, but I doubt even the North Shore connector will be done by then.

so how is the north shore connector doing these days?
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Re: Pittsburgh Commuter Rail - PATrain

Postby lpetrich » Wed Aug 31, 2011 9:22 pm

It's on target to be completed in March next year: Port Authority of Allegheny County > News > Capital Projects > North Shore Connector

Its most difficult part is now done: its tunnels under the Allegheny River, and it has only a little bit more construction to go.
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Re: Pittsburgh Commuter Rail - PATrain

Postby raytylicki » Thu Sep 08, 2011 3:50 pm

Should buses that come from the North Side Terminate at the new station on the North Side rather then clog up downtown?
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Re: Pittsburgh Commuter Rail - PATrain

Postby jb9152 » Mon Sep 12, 2011 11:21 am

raytylicki wrote:Should buses that come from the North Side Terminate at the new station on the North Side rather then clog up downtown?


Getting a bit off topic. Maybe this should be split off into a separate discussion on current Pittsburgh light rail?
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Re: Pittsburgh Commuter Rail - PATrain

Postby ohioriverrailway » Mon Sep 12, 2011 4:32 pm

I had a walking tour thru the tunnel last month. Things pretty much complete. Still working on station finishes and they'd just started the overhead.
Really impressive grades -- like 8% -- to get under the river. They're still planning on opening early next year.
As to the buses, if the city had it's own way, there'd be ABSOLUTELY no buses anywhere in the downtown area.
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Pittsburgh Light Rail Extended Northward to Stadiums

Postby lpetrich » Mon Mar 26, 2012 1:31 pm

The Pittsburgh light-rail system has been extended northward in a tunnel under the Allegheny River, and that extension is now open. It goes to two new stations: North Shore, near Pittsburgh Pirates home PNC Park, and Allegheny, near Pittsburgh Steelers home Heinz Field. The nearest station on the south side of that river, Gateway Center, has now reopened, after it was rebuilt during the construction of that tunnel.

North Shore train opens for historic 1.2-mile trip under Allegheny River - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Port Authority of Allegheny County officials estimated that 80 to 90 people were on the first Red Line train open to the public for a historic 1.2-mile trip under the Allegheny River from Downtown to Heinz Field. The two-car train with a maximum capacity of about 340 left Gateway Station, Downtown, just before 5 a.m. Veteran rail operator Pat Roth was at the controls. ...

The $517 million connector was one of the most expensive and controversial transportation projects in Pittsburgh history. Rides are free between Downtown and North Shore stations.

Riders were mostly complimentary, but several said the money would have been better spent on rail to Pittsburgh's East End or the North Hills.

North Shore Connector makes rush-hour debut - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Merrill Stabile, president of Alco Parking, said the garage added 60 new monthly leases and had 200 more cars than normal by the conclusion of the morning rush. Business also picked up at surface lots. "I'm pleasantly surprised," he said.

"I don't expect people to change their habits overnight," he said. "It's going to start as a trickle and grow from there."

Mr. Stabile's company, along with the Steelers, Pittsburgh Stadium Authority and Rivers Casino, are underwriting free rides on the connector for the next three years.

The system's home page: Port Authority of Allegheny County > Home
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