Mon valley transit to add bike racks to all buses, install park-and-ride lots

By next summer, it will be possible to take a bicycle to Pittsburgh while riding on a transit bus.

That goal is a part of the Mid-Mon Valley Transit Authority’s environmentally sound mission.

The transit authority received notice late last week that it has been approved for a $70,000 Federal Highway Administration Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant.

The grant will fully fund installation of bicycle racks on the front of the MMVTA’s buses. Currently, one bus, used on the Valley 2 Route connecting valley communities with California University of Pennsylvania, has a bicycle rack attached. But that is the lone such bus among a fleet of 29 vehicles, and it is due for replacement soon, said Nancy Basile, transit authority manager of finance and grant programs.

The authority is expected to receive the funding sometime after the 2017 federal fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

Basile said the transit authority has recently received an increasing number of calls from Mon Valley bike riders who wanted to know if the authority had plans to equip buses with bike ramps.

Then, at a Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission meeting, the transit authority learned money was available.

In addition to the bike racks, the transit authority plans to install park-and-ride lot areas for securing bikes. Additionally, there are plans to update system apps where riders can learn where bikers can park their bikes and ride the bus.

“In the summer, you could bike to a park-and-ride or take the bike on the bus and do something downtown after work,” Basile said. “We have targeted congestion mitigation.”

Earlier this year, the transit authority purchased eight compressed natural-gas buses to replace four, 40-foot commuter buses which service the Mon Valley to Pittsburgh routes and four, 35-foot local service buses. The buses were purchased from Gillig LLC, a California-based manufacturer, which has delivered buses to the authority in the past. The eight buses cost roughly $3.2 million.

“We’ve been trying these past few years to incorporate green and clean,” Basile said. “This seemed like a logical step. We’re further ahead with green and clean than a lot of agencies.”

By Christopher Buckley

Herald Standard