Transport in the time of COVID-19: How to get around the City safely


Kaycee Orwig | Visual Editor

Port Authority spokesperson Adam Brandolph said all bus lines that run through Oakland will return to full service on or before Aug. 23.

By Benjamin Nigrosh, News Editor

Most students utilize public transportation, run by the Port Authority of Allegheny County, to get around Oakland and the City. Pitt students can use their student ID card to get free access to buses, light rails and the inclines that travel up and down the steep hills bordering the South Side neighborhoods.

Though Port Authority restricted its schedules at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, agency spokesperson Adam Brandolph said all bus lines that run through Oakland will return to full service on or before Aug. 23, about the time that students will arrive on campus.

Current Port Authority capacity restrictions prohibit more than 10 passengers on a 35-foot bus, 15 passengers on a 40-foot bus and 25 passengers on an articulated bus. These restrictions are subject to change, Brandolph said, and passenger caps will likely increase by the end of August. He added that buses will not stop to onload additional passengers if they are already at capacity.

In order to keep passengers safe, Brandolph said, Port Authority disinfects all buses on a daily basis and requires that all passengers wear masks while traveling to their destination. Passengers without a mask will not be removed from the bus, Brandolph said, but if they do not have a valid excuse for not wearing a mask, such as a medical exemption, the bus will not move to its next stop.

Brandolph suggested that students pack an extra mask in their bags so they can always have access to Port Authority services when traveling.

Getting around Oakland

Each branch of the 61 and 71 routes provide service between Craft Avenue and Craig Street, the western and easternmost points of Oakland, respectively. The 58 and 93 provide service along the Boulevard of the Allies for trips into South and Central Oakland.

But Port Authority buses aren’t the only options for Pitt students getting around within Oakland — Pitt itself offers many shuttles that provide convenient transportation to oft-visited locations around campus.

Beginning July 1, the University will contract with Pittsburgh Transport Group for on-campus shuttle transportation, leaving Lenzner Coach Lines, its shuttle provider of more than 20 years. According to University spokesperson Pat McMahon, 20 new shuttle buses will drive the University’s shuttle routes, transporting students around South, Central and North Oakland.

The most popular routes, the 10A and 10B, stop outside of Hillman Library on Forbes Avenue in the heart of campus and provide connections to upper campus residence halls, such as Sutherland Hall, as well as the recreation facilities at Trees Hall. The 20A and 20B offer service to nearby Shadyside, while the 30A, 30B and 30C shuttles provide easy access to South Oakland. The 40A moves STEM-oriented students to the Biotech Center, located along the banks of the Monongahela River.

According to Kevin Sheehy, the assistant vice chancellor for auxiliary operations and finance, campus shuttles will now only be able to carry one-third to half as many passengers as their full capacity. He said 10 to 16 people will be allowed on 36-passenger buses, and five to 12 people will be allowed on 24-passenger buses.

Getting to the East End

Oakland is one neighborhood in Pittsburgh’s East End, a collection of neighborhoods that surround the City on its eastern side. All other East End neighborhoods can be accessed via bus.

Squirrel Hill, a predominantly Jewish neighborhood on the other side of Schenley Park, is accessible by any of the 61 buses. You can board a 61 bus at the corner of Forbes Avenue and Bigelow Boulevard in the heart of campus and get off at the corner of Forbes and Murray avenues.

To the north of Squirrel Hill is Shadyside, which can be reached by any of the 71 buses. The Ellsworth Avenue and Walnut Street commercial districts are often popular with students.

To get to East Liberty, home to many shops as well as Target and Trader Joe’s, you can take the 71C or 75.

Getting to Downtown

Whether you’re trying to reach Market Square, Point State Park or the PPG Paints Arena, any 61 or 71 bus will take you from the Fifth and Thackeray avenues stop outside Towers to all of Downtown Pittsburgh’s attractions. From there, destinations on the North Side such as Heinz Field and the Andy Warhol Museum are just a short walk away.

Students on upper campus can catch an 83 bus near the Fitzgerald Field House, which connects to Downtown through the Hill District.

Getting to South Side

You can catch the 75 and 54, heading inbound on Fifth Avenue, to go across the Birmingham Bridge to South Side’s East Carson Street. This route is popular with Pitt’s upperclassmen for the array of bars and restaurants available in Pittsburgh’s South Side, from Hofbrauhaus to the Carson City Saloon. SouthSide Works Cinema, which can be accessed on the same bus lines, offers special $5 movie tickets on Mondays.

Getting to Pittsburgh International Airport

The 28X is the only bus route that provides a direct connection from Oakland and Downtown to Pittsburgh International Airport, located in Moon Township. It runs every 30 minutes and can pick students up at the intersection of Fifth and Thackeray avenues, across the street from Litchfield Towers.