Lucas Piatt, the vice president of Millcraft Industries, one of two developers vying to redevelop Downtown Pittsburgh, read and responded to this recent post taking his company to task for proposing that buses be restricted from the Fifth and Forbes shopping corridor. Below is his response, taken with his consent from an email he sent me:
We really want to do what is best for the city as a whole. We are planning affordable housing, luxury housing, more parking, more transit, student housing, wonderful retail, some work live boutique offices, and some great public space for downtown. Development doesn’t get much more comprehensive than that.
We just can’t build buildings; we have to look at all of the issues. We have to look at transportation and the vital infrastructure and how to make it work the best. I don’t think the situation now is what we need. The fact that nearly 1,000 buses per day are humming down 5th avenue is staggering! There has to be a better way of doing this.
We think that maybe the city could bring back a trolley or a connector system to shuttle people to where they need to go. Maybe the buses should be on a city wide loop with larger bus stations where the rider transitions are made. Then if people want to travel downtown they can take the connector which could be a free system… I am not sure. It really needs to be studied to make proposals.
Our true goal is to create a livable neighborhood around market square that is sustainable, environmentally efficient through LEED certified design, and finally get the city back some $$$ so it can operate properly. Please, we are not racist or elitist; we just want to make things happen for the better.
What follows is my response to Lucas, also from an email:
I may need to reconsider my position about the buses. My concern is that there has been too much central planning, and too much resistance to the sort of organized chaos, if you will, that makes great cities work. You are the second person to suggest to me a shuttle bus system with outlying depots. (Trolleys would be great. My wife's always said that would garner great publicity for the city.) My big concern is that the depots, or substations, would create more blight than the buses do. Part of that comes from my lack of faith in the Port Authority--as a friend once remarked, the T stations are reminescent of 1960s-era East Berlin.
But if they could be attractive buildings, with amenities like a coffee kiosk, newspaper stand, well, that's something different.
If you read the comments that follow my original post, you will see that Lucas' idea for shuttle buses and outlying depots is similar to what Mark Rauterkus proposed. In any case, I hope Lucas continues to read and that we can continue this dialogue.