Thursday, December 1, 2011

Here It Is! I couldn't keep it hidden any longer.

So, I thought that I would wait till the end of the semester to get this map out there, both because it is still probably going to be tweaked and because I wanted to present the entire semester's work at once. Anyway, I can't wait any longer. I hope you like it. Maybe it will create some internet buzz. I will explain it all in a different post, hopefully soon. It uses the old rights-of-way from freight trains, reconnects the city to its waterfronts, has a feeder/local downtown loop, and follows all of the city's studies including the spine line, Easter Corridor Transit Study. I still have a long 5 months of work on the rest of the thesis though.
Samson T Map


Here is the design in actual lines:

Lines Map

*note: T Map has been revised based on comments.

37 comments:

  1. God bless you! When I moved back from DC, a REAL subway system has remained one of the things I still miss most. Too bad it will probably fall on deaf ears, but if by some miracle someone actually takes you up on this idea, Pittsburgh might finally be able to say we are catching up to EVERY other city worth traveling to in America!

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    1. Links, updates and posters:

      http://samsonwaacthesis.blogspot.com/2013/10/new-interest-and-links.html?m=1

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  2. This is incredible and very much needed in Pittsburgh. I hope that it creates some stir.

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  3. Funny how it looks like this

    http://goo.gl/maps/1293A

    Oh wait that's right, we had an existing network of streetcar lines that the city dismantled systematically.

    WHOOPS.

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  4. What's sad is that this would probably be more likely to happen as a Kickstarter than receive proper funding from the PAT...

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  5. Great Work.

    Being a Pittsburgh expatriate who currently lives in the #DMV I can honestly say that such a system would improve the city immensely

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  6. I think that this is a GREAT project, and as I work in the architecture industry, I have heard rumbling that a large property owner in the Pittsburgh area (msg me if you'd like their contact info) is considering privately funding a Maglev line from downtown to Oakland, but I think that they would be VERY interested in this layout and your thesis.

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  7. Thanks hansjake. I just moved back to the Burgh and would be happy to talk with you/ get their contact info.

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  8. Oh, These maps are now for sale as posters!

    http://www.zazzle.com/pittsburgh_light_rail_map_print-228227082415622867

    Superimposed onto the city too!
    http://www.zazzle.com/cr/design/pt-zazzle_print?dz=82384e64-9d18-4efd-bf81-e7127c879045&pending=false&clone=true

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  9. I was happy to come across this post on Facebook recently. I'm a native Pittsburgher living in DC, and a couple years back while in grad school for urban planning (I'm also a Hokie--MURP National Capital Region 2011) I decided to design my own Pittsburgh subway system--granted mine was hand drawn on a piece of paper, possibly transferred into google maps at some point. I'll have to dig it up and see how my scribbles compare to your work. Maybe someday this will be a reality in Pittsburgh!

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  10. Well Done. You should make T-Shirts!

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    Replies
    1. just did, thnx!
      http://www.zazzle.com/pittsburgh_light_rail_shirt-235874353178066906

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    2. Tshirts n@!

      Zazzle.com/burghsamson/gifts

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  11. i think the stops on the north route would be SG, Evrgn, Franklin Park, then Wexford and cranberry if in a straight line

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  12. Could you explain what the water taxis are? In the four years of commuting in and around the city I've never heard of that here.

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  13. This is a great start. I'm guessing some of the more densely populated areas (Oakland, etc) would be underground?

    The hilly topography of Pittsburgh presents lots of challenges since they often separate rail lines from population centers.

    While there are railroad right-of-ways that run up the north side of the Ohio River, about 5-6 miles of it is inaccessible from communities like Bellevue, Avalon, and parts of Emsworth because the rail lines are separated from those areas by Ohio River Blvd (Route 65), and steep cliffs. This is the case elsewhere in Allegheny County as well.

    Also, I think pretty much all of that trackage is still actively used. There is a rail yard in the extreme northwestern section of Manchester, and Norfolk Southern has a massive rail yard and intermodal freight terminal about 20 miles downriver, near Conway.

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    1. There is a spot on the Emsworth/Ben Avon boundary, where the road goes out to meet the railroad tracks, right by the lock and dam. This road - Herron and then Western Ave - can be accessed from 65 (southbound most easily) on the Emsworth side, or through a neighborhood street - Forest Ave - that goes under 65 on the Ben Avon side. Personally I've been itching to figure out how to get the bike trail to continue up that way. But I'd happily take a light rail line
      instead.

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  14. Dear Sir. I'm a 23 year old College student in Westmoreland county. A friend sent me your proposal and I have been working on the exact same concept for Westmoreland county using old freight lines. IF your idea gains traction would it be possible to convert the "T" from Pennsylvania Trolley Gauge to the standard 4'8.5" gauge? this would allow light local freight to be able to run on the T lines as well?

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  15. If you want to see things like this happen, we are going to have to push for real change. Huge "Non profits" that don't actually offer free services and who purchase all the valuable property in the city and Allegheny County need to start contributing back to the community instead of sucking us dry. I think we all know who I am talking about.

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    Replies
    1. Those non-profits aren't the enemy. They are a vital part of what makes this region attractive to new growth oriented companies. They don't suck the city dry of resources without giving back, as a for-profit company would. The challenge is in how to get them to be part of the solution, rather than to vilify them for doing what it is that they do, which does have positive benefit to the city.

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  16. Looks pretty good but I believe the name of the town at the end of the Red Line is spelled Carnegie, not Carnagie.

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  17. No connection from the East End directly to Lawrenceville? Unfortunate.

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  18. I have thought about this idea many times. It's fantastic! But I don't think Pittsburgh's geography supports this kind of project. Just look at the short trolley tunnel they dug from downtown to the stadiums. That took forever and cost a fortune. Our bus system has been almost completely dismantled. We can barely take care of our city as it is! While this is a wonderful idea that I wish could come true, city officials have probably talked through this before and decided it was either too expensive or not plausible.

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  19. Great work in here, however, people have been trying to do this for decades. The problem is not ideas, but financing and land availability to do it. If this proposal was tied to an actual financing & acquisition study of how to actually get it implemented, I could see it as more realistic, but just offering the design (which has existed in different versions through out the years), won't go anywhere. I mean, we can barely pay for our PAT buses right now. And when there's been talk about having State / non-tax money into innovative/massive transportation, planners & financing choose to only do small gestures, like a "connector" between Downtown and the Northside for people going to games, or plan on the "maglev", connecting the Airport w/Downtown. More than wishes, we need actions. If you have a good design, do it justice by also researching how to finance it and make it sustainable.

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  20. This is absolutely amazing! You should contact the Oakland Planning and Development Corporation, because I bet they would be absolutely interested in hearing about this. They created he Oakland 2020 project, which includes plans for transportation around Oakland and other areas.

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  21. Ben: Having lived in Washington, DC for 15 years I am quite familiar with the positives and negatives of the Metro System in DC. What appears to be an interesting proposal for Pittsburgh it is really not feasible for the region. I applaud you for your creativity and concepts but when theory moves to implementation it becomes an overwhelming task. Here are a few hurdles. First, Funding the projects - you have no idea how much money is needed and the Feds chipped in Billions for the Metro System due to Federal workers. This will not happen in Pittsburgh as the city is in horrible financial shape. It is in financial shambles. Second, The T-System in Pittsburgh is a total joke. It is slow, inefficient, and antiquated to say the least. If there were to be a Metro system in Pgh the T- System would have to be fully scrapped. Third, Pittsburgh as a city has a diminishing workforce - companies are abandoning the down-town area in droves due to taxes, high rent and excessive parking fees. Why put a mass transit system in a city that is decompressing. I could go on with other problems ... but you get my point. I really do applaud your creativity however!!!!! Nice maps and theory!!!!

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    1. This might be one of the most asinine comments I've read. the City of Pittsburgh employs roughly 300,000 people with roughly 85% of them working within the Golden Triangle, North Shore, and Oakland corridors. These figures have remained largely consistent for the last 50 years!
      That's certainly not decompression. Lack of expansion maybe, but certainly not decompression. Also, transit ridership in the Pittsburgh region experienced the 4th greatest year to year gain in the entire nation over the past three years - largely due to the North Shore Expansion of the LRT. Oh, and it is an LRT, not a Metro which combined with the terrain challenges indicates why it is a slower commute than comparable services in areas like DC. Still, Library to Steel Plaza is on average a 41 minute commute on the LRT covering 14 miles (average speed of travel 20.5 mph) while a trip from Arlington to DC averages 18 minutes on the orange line covering 6.5 miles (average speed of travel 21.5 mph). So it really isn't all that bad, just not as extensive.

      The problem with Pittsburgh's mass transit system isn't that it's unsustainable, it's that the project has been mismanaged for the past 80 years and gutted without adequate replacement over that time, so now expansion would require a massive capital outlay that would far exceed the current financial resources available for many of the projects.

      In any case, you should look at the facts about the region before spouting off opinions. This plan outlined above is likely not feasible in it's entirety, or it's current structure, but there are many ways Pittsburgh mass transit could be expanded and metro lines added that would benefit the region and draw significant ridership.

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  22. I have a concern about the Red line route. I have long considered myself how to get a real rail transport system into pittsburgh. (by the way, there was an excellent NPR piece about this exact issue and the history of skybus and BRT systems recently on WESA essential pittsburgh).
    Your red line goes straight through forbes avenue. In many places, forbes avenue is developed on right up to the sidewalks, and is frequently congested due to it's arterial access to all of oakland, squirrel hill and shadyside. My impression is that the red line would have to be in tunnels for large sections of where you have it drawn for both that reason and geography reasons. Tunnel-building in the triangle hasn't been done to a large extent, probably because of the geology. Can you clarify?

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  23. Keith,

    If the city is decompressing downtown, why is there a new Sky Scraper going up right smack in the middle of it? One that is supposed to add 1500+ workers to the downtown area?

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    1. There has been massive movement out of the city by for-profit companies over the last 10+ years. What has gone into the city in terms of "growth" if you want to call it that is non-profit entities like UPMC that do not pay taxes. I would not call 1,500 workers a large amount of growth. Clearly not enough people downtown to warrant a transit system in the city. HECK PAT cannot operate a Bus system within budget let alone a massively larger rail system. If PAT did not have other government funding to prop it up it would fail. As of Jan 2012 the state kicked in 1.1 BILLION to assist Mass Transit keep afloat!!!!!!!!! Are you kidding me!!!!!!! How would it be paid for?????????? It is easy to visualize or hypothesize but it is an entirely different thing to raise the capital, stay in budget and implement in Construction, and gain users sufficient enough to PAY FOR THE SYSTEM. There is not enough demand or money to do this..... cool idea but it is not economically feasible.

      On top of this - the T system is a total joke. It is NOT rapid or mass transit. It is a horrible system that is slow and antiquated. It cannot be compared to the DC metro system on any level.

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    2. I get what your saying about the budget and all that but my statement was about the downtown area decompressing. Which I do not agree with you on. The city has stopped losing population the past few years, it may be by only a few dozen people but that is much better than a loss of 1000. I think we are heading in the right direction.

      With that said, I have made no comments on public transportation. I do believe that it can run more efficiently and a major upgrade isn't needed. But this would be cool and it would progress the city greatly.

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  24. You should start a Kickstarter campaign. Create a nonprofit or something. If you do, send it to me, because I will donate heavily!

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    1. Do you understand how much money this would cost to build?? You need much more than a kickstarter.

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  25. A private company should invest in this. Port Authority doesn't have any incentive to care about efficiency.

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  26. Just visited Pittsburgh - nice city, not-so-reliable transit. A transit system like the one depicted in your map would have made getting around so much easier. By the way, I like the subtle design similarities between your map and the TriMet transit map in my hometown. Did that serve as inspiration in any way? Cheers from Portland, Oregon!

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  27. The Metro system in DC is adding a new line called the Silver Line that extends just past Dulles Airport. It will piggy back on the Orange/Blue line in N. Virginia in to DC. The extension alone is a total of 23 miles and is going to cost 6.8 BILLION. The Feds are kicking in 900 Million!!!! So this in Northern Virginia that has a far greater population base in the Metro DC area than anything in Pittsburgh. So - I would love to see a projected cost analysis on this plan. Metro as a whole has 800,000 riders each WORK DAY. Pittsburgh would have no where near that number. The original plan to build METRO in DC started in 1968 the feds kicked in on that funding was 90% funded by the Federal Government. Good luck! Would be cool if this was privately funded but don't think it is feasible or profitable.

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  28. I would make the red line continuous and the downtown trolley a loop instead of trying to break the line like that (unless you mean for the line to switch to street level service, which I think would create traffic issues or slow the line down). Also there should be a blue line stop in the waterfront and on Wilkins to serve Chatham. Stops in general feel a bit too far apart, but I am from NYC where the stops are every 8 blocks or so.

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