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I have been mulling over this question of the propensity of transit use from the city to downtown v. elsewhere in the region to downtown. It is significantly easier for a city dweller to use public transit to get downtown cheaply, reliably and reasonably timely than a suburbanite. So just as a wildass guess, more people living in Bloomfield or Squirrel Hill v. Shaler or Ross Township, all else being equal would marginally decrease the number of cars going downtown during the workday.

C. Briem

just a few pieces left out. New casino impact? If there is a temporary casino put on the melody tent site it will be a pretty big hit on both parking supply and parking demand downtown.

and the bigger issue is as you and BO alluded to. Jobs in the city have not been going away at all despite people moving out of the city for long time. Commuting trends from ever further distances into the city are up consistently.. It's not a phenomenon limited to those moving from neighborhoods adjacent to downtown. Most PAT commutes, especially bus commutes, I am pretty sure are starting from places within and throughout the city. So as those people move out they are generating ever more auto commutes for sure. Significant? I think I figured a factoid that says there are currently more commuters into Allegheny County from Ohio than there were from Westmoreland county alone just 30 years ago. Most of that is still coming into the city.

on downtown's size. at just over a half square mile between the rivers, the common defintion of the downtown CBD, it is one of the smallest CBDs in the country for a metro region. Baltimore is actually one of the few that is smaller at just under a half square mile but it is an extreme case. I have a ranking of some of these on page 3 of this if you are interested:


John Morris

I want to define my terms. I consider, Pittsburgh's potential downtown to include most of the strip and also the lower hill.

John Morris

Hopefully, we have put to bed, the myth that the problems of Pittsburgh come from a loss of Jobs and start looking at how Pittsburgh has lost it's tax base in spite of gaining jobs in the city itself. What it has lost is tax paying employers and tax paying residents. What has Pittsburgh, as a city gotten by promoting this situation?

sean mcdaniel

actually, pete hamill wrote a wonderful book about what he considers "downtown" new york, an area that starts in his terms just short of central park and ends at the battery. but keep in mind that unlike NYC, too many places like the strip and downtown don't seem connected. and that's what's needed to make the strip seem part of an extended downtown.

Jonathan Potts

I would have liked to have seen the T extended to the convention center. That was the only part of the North Shore connector plan that I liked, and the part that was cut. It would have helped the convention center and connected the outer edge of the strip to Downtown.

John, I agree that Pittsburgh, like a lot of cities, has staked too much of its future on attracting visitors, rather than focusing on making the city a good place to live. But it's much more complex than parking garages and transit, though the later is important. One of the things that drive people out of the city are taxes, and I think the wage tax is a particular killer. (Property taxes, too.) Don't discount the role that schools have, either.

John Morris

A T extension through the strip or at least up to 16th or 20th St. would have been a far more cost effective investment. Transport in the areas near the downtown should not be a major problem.A little shuttle bus route that cost 50 cents running back and forth from the strip to the downtown, or mini van shuttles or liberalised cab service are all potential solutions. Perhaps the developers of property would chip in for that, instead of building garages for every building.

As far as the tax issue-- yes, it would be a lot more productive to talk about that than promoting the myth that people don't want to live in cities. Most people talk about taxes, schools and crime as the reasons they don't live in the city. There are many popular cities in the country, with a number like San Fransisco that are almost too popular for their own good.

sean mcdaniel

John for once and for all...let me say this...SF is too good for it's own good.

Drive 20 minutes north and you're in redwood forest...drive and hour south and there's carmel...and hell, for amazing natural beauty...all you have to do is ride one of those little cable cars halfway to the stars to see one of the most stunning views in the world.

I love pittsburgh. you know that. i think it a perfect little city (like all kids are perfect when they're born...all the parts are there) but it's not SF. I think my wife's a good looking woman...but she's not aneglina jolie or scarlett johannsen (and thankfully she doesn't know a damn thing about blogging).

i think it's ridiculous to keep comparing pittsburgh to san francisco in a way that makes them seem equal.

as to fester's question...you can get a bus from bloomfield to downtown and barely have time to sit down on the 10 minute ride. from even the closests parts of ross you end up bitching because you have to stand for 30 minutes because there are no seats left on the bus when you get on...i've gone both routes...and it's one of the reasons i started to bike to work in downtown.

Jonathan Potts

Amen, Sean. Just because Pittsburgh isn't San Francisco or New York or Chicago doesn't make it bad.

I would agree that all successful urban communities share certain characteristics. But they also have many unique characteristics, which stem from their own unique geography, history and economic development. Those things continue to shape how they grow and develop today.

I seem to recall that one of Jane Jacobs' beefs with the urban planners of her day was their belief that all cities and city neighborhoods followed patterns that were as immutable and predictable as the laws of physics. Cities are organic, self-organizing places that don't necessarily follow iron laws of probability. If you do X, you may not get Y. Just because you make parking scarce and public transit abundant in Pittsburgh doesn't mean it is going to turn it into Manhattan.

Mike B

I recently moved into downtown Pittsburgh. I really like living here. There are always so many things to do here. I go to lectures at the many universities, have great healthcare, belong to clubs, and I enjoy the shopping. I can walk to the southside -across the 10th st bridge- in 15 minutes, and I love walking and biking to the point and north side. There are somethings that do bother me about the burgh, however. Firstly, the air quality could be better. There are too many cars and buses in the downtown. Singapore has a way to control this. During the day, one has to purchase a pass to go into the downtown by car. This is a good way to raise money for the city, cut down on pollution and traffic problems, and it should help out with the parking too. The other complaint I have is regarding aggressive drivers. Nobody goes the speed limit, people run red lights a lot, and right on red rarely includes a full stop. If the city wants to raise some money, I would recommend giving out tickets occassionally. So far, I haven't seen a single ticket being written since I moved here. Pittsburgh could really become a great city, but it needs to be cleaned-up more. Its best hope for revitalization may be its wonderful healthcare. As america's population ages, people are looking for cities that offer first class services. Rand Mcnally has a city rating system: New York has always been given the unique rating 1-AAAA due to its preeminent status in the national hierarchy. Chicago was originally the only other city rated 1-AAA as having influence over a large area of the country. In 1988, Los Angeles was similarly given a 1-AAA rating. Thirteen cities are given the rating 1-AA as major national business centers: Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Miami, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C..

The burgh has enough services to be considered a major center, and it has a good chance that it can attract wealthy retired people who want good services, but don't want to spend or can't quite afford NY or SF prices. What these well off retirees want however is a clean safe place to live. And the aggressive angry drivers make the city somewhat unsafe. At the very least they taint the experience.

John Morris

Thanks Mike,

I strongly suspect that most of the new residents of the downtown are choosing it as a place in which they do not have to drive all the time and consider cars to be a major imposition on thier quality of life.

As to Jonathan's remarks-- Pittsburgh's geography would make it very hard to have anything other than dense development work. The reason I bring up San Francisco over and over is because of it's obvious similarity to Pittsburgh in age of buildings, geographic limitations and a host of other factors like it's similarity as a college town and most important, it's very small land area.

I think that the current state of the city shows that the previous trends towards sprawl have not worked in the cities favor.

sean mcdaniel


what kind of biking do you do around town? I ride a lot. It's a great way to find your way around town. And I'm always looking for someone to ride with.

Mike B

I have an electric bike. I need a little help with the hills:-)


I strongly suspect that most of the new residents of the downtown are choosing it as a place in which they do not have to drive all the time and consider cars to be a major imposition on thier quality of life.

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