Controversy over buses on Orchard Spring in Scott

Published Mar 28, 2014 at 4:46 pm (Updated Mar 28, 2014 at 4:46 pm)

A letter sent to the Port Authority regarding bus service on Orchard Spring Road brought residents on both sides of the issue to the Scott Township commissioners March 25 regular meeting.

More than 40 people packed the meeting room to voice concerns about a letter dated March 13, 2014, that was sent by the township to Ellen McLean, the CEO of Port Authority of Allegheny County. In the letter, the township requested that bus service on Orchard Spring be rerouted so buses will not be on the road from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and that no buses be on Orchard Spring on Saturday or Sunday. The letter states that the request is being made for “public safety reasons and for the good of all our residents.”

Last fall, residents from Orchard Spring came to the board of commissioners complaining about the excessive number of buses, including many empty buses, traveling on their residential street. Citing safety concerns, noise, traffic congestion and road damage, they asked if there was any way the buses could be rerouted.

At the board’s October 22, 2013, meeting, residents who used the 38C bus route told the board that making changes to bus service on Orchard Spring would be a mistake and that they wanted no changes or cuts to the route. At that time, the board indicated that they wanted no cuts in service to the area.

Michael J. Finnerty, Allegheny County Council member, spoke during public comments, telling the crowd that the decision regarding the 38C bus route on Orchard Spring was not up to the commissioners. “Port Authority will make the decision.”

Finnerty said there were no plans to eliminate service on Orchard Spring Road, and he explained that the Port Authority will do a study to review which trips are productive and which are not.

After Finnerty’s remarks, Scott resident Kathy Quinn-Hodel had questions for the board about who decided to send the letter from the township asking the Port Authority to make bus route changes on Orchard Spring and if the decision was voted on. Quinn-Hodel said that in the board’s October and November minutes, the board indicated that they didn’t want service cuts in the area.

“I don’t know if what you did was illegal, but it was unethical,” said Quinn-Hodel. “You should be ashamed of yourself.”

Heather Pellegrini, a Lindsay Road resident, also questioned how the decision was made, as there was nothing on the board’s March 11 agenda about discussing the bus route on Orchard Spring.

Barbara Hopkins said that no one asked her when the bus traffic was increased on Orchard Spring, but she’d like to see the number of buses decreased. “We don’t want cuts,” said Hopkins. “We just want the buses rerouted.”

Lori Lang, another Orchard Spring resident, said that 60 buses a day is not a ridership issue, but is a routing issue for the Port Authority. She sees empty buses traveling Orchard Spring as a cut-through to the Collier bus garage.

Julie Kmick of Rose Leaf Drive said she understands the concerns about volume on Orchard Spring, but asked that before recommendations are made in terms of limiting buses in the middle of the day or on weekends, people need to realize that not everyone works peak hours and some people work on the weekends.

“I hear both sides and ask you to think of the big picture,” said Kmick.

Board president David Jason said that he agreed with Mr. Finnerty’s remarks. “We need to take a survey,” said Jason. “And if we don’t need some of the buses on Orchard Spring, we need to get rid of them.”

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