Today's Mighty Oak

I don’t live in the city limits, I don’t get to vote for the mayor, but for many in the same situation, his (and city council’s) actions affect me.  I work in the city, I love this city, if I could spend more time in it (current road/sidewalk conditions notwithstanding) I would.  And I have generally supported the Mayor, probably from my empowerment of youth philosophy, he may be 30, but that’s still young, if not a youth per se.

I can look past some of this flaws, attribute them to his youth, as well as (from an outsider who doesn’t pay as much attention as I should) the inability for City Council to work with the Mayor on just about anything (hello, microcosm!).

However, recent shenanigans anger me.  And there are many, and many obvious ones, although I am more prone to look at the two broken promises, that sadly, should not have had to be promised.

  1. That the snow removal that was promised to be overhauled, in 2008 (h/t to PG+).  Full disclosure, I really haven’t had any problems on my short commute/walk, but I gather I’m pretty much the exception.
  2. An overhaul of the 911 system, which from what we can gather, Luke was working on today, even though it failed the city once again.

But even more than any of that, the lack of transparency is what bugs me.  Yes, Luke is oftentimes immature, and yes, City Council will sometimes egg him on, and not help the situation.  But honest communication and transparency would do a world of good.  For everybody.

So in the meantime, I’ll direct you to the actual required reading (I have no affront to think that I am in any way required, respected or regularly read as a writer about Pittsburgh, let alone a writer about Pittsburgh politics), over at That’s Church.  Check out the comments as well, where I felt some were spookily like my own sentiments.  Here’s a taste of what you’ll find:

You had that power.  The power was in YOUR hands this entire time to put a stop to the questions of your whereabouts.  It is because of YOUR actions that it got as bad as it did.  It was your decisions.  Your silence. You. All you.

The title of this blog post was going to be very, very different.  Here’s what happened.  I caught a different bus since mine was a bit late, and I didn’t feel like waiting outside any longer.  I transferred at the Park ‘n Ride, my bus was right behind us by the time we got there, so it was pretty awesome.

However, as I got on the bus, the driver said he wasn’t going into our plan, instead he was going to drop us all off (I think six of us by the time we got to our neighborhood) at he gas station about a mile away from the Park ‘n Ride in our neighborhood, where (I think) most people get on the bus.  Well, that was pretty crappy, but it was better than being at a further lot, and I had my boots on and even a pair of Yax Trax I could lend out.

To be fair, the roads through Wilkinsburg were pretty awful, and so was most of 22 through Wilkins and Monroeville, but as we got into Monroeville, the roads improved, a lot.  And thankfully, as we drove past the gas station (Sunoco, fyi, although as I found out, people from out of state sometimes pronounce it “Son-a-ca”), the driver announced he was going to try our road!

The road was just wet, much, much better than it was today, when our normal driver, fearless as always, drove us home.  So thanks to the drivers, regular, or the never-ended cast of subs we have every Monday, for letting me nap while you navigate the (sometimes awful) roads.

Hey look, there’s a giant, international event going on and I don’t have to cover it!  It’s like some weird kind of G-20 withdrawal….just kidding.

Anyway, the crew over at Vancouver Metblogs is covering the 2010 Olympic games (as I watch it on TV obsessively).  Check it out, and good luck to everyone in Vancouver!

And by the way, does anyone have a good schedule I could print out showing what is when on TV?  I can’t find a good one online, and the official site only shows one day at a time, and really isn’t very useful.

A favorite web series of mine is coming back for a second season:

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I’m calling this The Wedding edition, make sure to read while listening to Pachelbel’s cannon.  The TDP changes finally his my routes, and all kinds of upheaval followed.

  • Something Old

Old buses!  The changes may have happened, but we have the same buses we always have.  It does seem though, that with this round of changes, the signs have been up to date.  When the first two rounds of bus changes went through, it was more common to see the old route names than the new, so it is nice to see this working in the rider’s favors.

  • Something New

The routes of course.  I’ve lost service to my neighborhood, but I’m adjusting to the Park ‘n Ride live (more on that in the next section as well).  Part of me likes it, I have more options to get home (now that the buses are showing up when they are supposed to, thanks @PGHtransit) and if I need to run out after work, I’m more prone to get things done since I’m at my car already.

The new routes however, came at a time which has really messed some things up downtown.  With the construction at Penn Station, riders who normally use those stops are now crowded onto Grant Street.  This minor change has created some big problems.  I don’t know if it is a combination of the displaced riders, or a change in the EBO/EBA/EBS schedule, but I feel for those riders.  They need more buses, badly.  We’ll watch three buses in a row go past on their way out of town, filled to the brim and unable to pick anyone else up.  And just in case PAT is reading, from my unscientific observations, we need more G buses as well.

  • Something Borrowed

Information.  Not was I was expecting to write for this section at all.  Before my bus route disappeared I tried to find out about the Park ‘n Ride I would be using.  It was already pretty full to begin with, and then with the consolidation of three routes, including one very popular, but very unofficial Park ‘N Ride, I knew we would be spilling out of the spaces marked for us.

I tried contacting PAT, which offered up no response, although one of my drivers said to park wherever, it didn’t really matter (he was fairly accurate).  So instead, I called the mall, where, completely unexpected, I received a call back from the General Manager.  He was curious about the changes and I explained what was going to happen, and he very calmly suggested that we use the rows nearby, stating the only time we should have a problem was Christmas.  Having worked at Monroeville Mall through 7 years (and Christmas seasons) in high school and college breaks, I knew to expect that though.

So a huge thank you to the staff and management of Monroeville Mall, you came through when PAT didn’t!

  • Something Blue

Stranded riders.  The first couple days, driving back from the Park ‘n Ride, seeing passengers waiting at bus stop signs for buses that will never come, it was sad.  The only phrase I could think of is “The bus doesn’t come here any more.”  I guess I never realized how many stops people used.

I’ve seen some of the people from my old route on the bus now, some I know take a different route altogether.  It’s nice to see a familiar face, and we can smile knowingly at each other, understanding that this isn’t the best outcome, but at least it’s something.  It’s nice that the “Survivors” can still find each other.

Two Park ‘n Rides closed in Monroeville, and that is sad as well.  I don’t have much to add, but felt it should be mentioned.

Have the changes been all bad?  No, but they have been far from perfect.  I still find it hard to believe that the company that did the research for the new routes really did much work.  The outcry from the lack of service on the West Busway turned out to be a foreshadow to what would happen to the East Busway.  My route is overflowing, I normally stand on my way home now.  Whoever PAT hired, they spent too much money, guess that doesn’t help their current financial situation either.

Here’s a bit of a story for you.  Back during all the snow, our heater broke.  So my brother graciously allowed me to crash on his couch.  His house is very close to a park ‘n ride lot, so after getting ready that morning I drove down the hill and had my first ever experience with a park ‘n ride.

And I can say that they are weird.

I’m probably just used to getting the neighborhood bus on the street, although this lot served flyers and some of the local neighborhood lines that came through.

So I parked and went over to the little shelter, which is very small, especially for how active this lot is.  A few other people were there, waiting for other buses to go to Oakland and after their bus came and went, I was left alone, jamming out to music on my headphones.  Eventually, a few other people joined me in the shelter, and soon the line stretched out into the parking lot.

The strange thing with the line is that I’ve seen it go into the parking lot some days, and into the street on other days.  I can’t figure out which is the “normal” way.

So back to the story, as the bus was coming towards the shelter, herds of people flooded out of their parked cars and shuffled and ran over the line.  I got on, and headed into town no problem.

But I’m still confused, which way should the line go?  How many people should get on each bus?  What if I need to get on a bus to get into town by a certain time, but the line doesn’t get me on, can I skip ahead the people waiting for the next bus?  Why do people wait for the really nice coach buses (ok, that one is easy to answer, but I always feel like our neighborhood bus isn’t good enough when no one gets on)?  What does it all mean?

I’ll have to use the park ‘n ride lot come June (we think, if rumors are to be believed), so I’m already feeling somewhat anxious!  Park ‘n rides are weird!

In other PAT news, they are looking for input in updating their website (general consensus, work more with Google Maps. make it user friendly and make it fast to find schedules.  Also, real-time bus locations would be awesome, but PAT doesn’t have the money for it yet) and the first wave of TDP changes start April 4, I’ll be reporting more on it then, as well as looking at the new schedules!

Just a quick programming note for everyone, I will be helping to run an event for 10,000 people this weekend, so I’ll be on location most of this week and part of next week (that is the current thinking at least).

I have a few posts that are scheduled to appear as the week goes on.  If something major happens in town, it’s not that I don’t want to cover it, it’s that I can’t (even though it appears I’ll still be writing).  This will be the last huge event for me for a while and I get back to a normal schedule.

Have a great one, and I’ll catch you soon!

A lot has been going on lately, but I would like to call your attention to a really cool charity event going on: Make Room for Crazy.

It works like this, two local bloggers are betting on the Pirates.  Michelle from Burgh Baby is betting that the Pirates will not break .500 this year, and Ginny from That’s Church is betting they will.  Prizes are being collected as we speak, and the winning blogger will donate 75% of the money to their charity, the other 25% going to the other (Either Make Room for Kids or Christmas Crazy for Kids).

Here’s more detailed information, as well as links to donate to either side (pick one, and enter as many times as you want, $5 gets you an entry).

I voted No by the way, not that I’m trying to influence you at all, I’m just going off of, you know, history.

Franktuary is unveiling a new dog this week, the G-20 Plummet:

In honor of this debacle, Franktuary has created the G-20 Plummet.  During the Plummet the restaurant will offer its Pittsburgh frank, buried under 20 additional condiments.  Franktuary publicist Frida Marquetza states, “The extra condiments represent the insensitive visitors who disrupted Pittsburgh’s tranquil and prosperous everyday life.  The suffocated pierogie symbolizes our city’s immobilized economy.”

I have a hard time thinking of 20 appropriate condiments to go on one hot dog, let alone how I would even eat it.  However, everything that I’ve ever tasted from Franktuary has been amazing, so I’m sure if anyone can pull it off, they can.

They are doing an online scavenger hunt all this week to commemorate the launch.  Check out their blog and twitter feed for more info and for more clues.

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