Pittsburgh Offers Bus Riders Free Bike-Share Trips

Plus, Kansas City streetcar moves one step closer to the city's riverfront, and more in our weekly New Starts. 

A cyclist rides by a Pittsburgh bike-share kiosk. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

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Our weekly “New Starts” roundup of new and newsworthy transportation projects worldwide.

Pittsburgh’s Last-Mile Solution: Free Bike-Share
In the latest attempt to solve what’s known as the “last-mile problem” to encourage greater transit use, the Port Authority of Allegheny County has turned to bicycles. The Tribune-Review reports that Pittsburgh’s mass transit agency has partnered with the city’s nonprofit bike-share program to offer free bike rides for Port Authority bus riders.

Pittsburgh Bike Share will offer unlimited 15-minute bike rides for Port Authority ConnectCard holders through March 31. The company operates 50 Healthy Ride bike share stations throughout the city.

Pittsburgh Bike Share Executive Director David White told the paper that Pittsburgh is the first city in the country to offer free bike share rides to public transit users. The aim is to get transit riders to consider bike use as an alternative transportation option. The free rides are being offered at no cost to the Port Authority.

Riders will use their ConnectCards to unlock bikes. Two stations in the Golden Triangle were set up to use the cards when the program was rolled out on Sept. 28, and the rest should be enabled this week as Pittsburgh Bike Share implements a technology upgrade.

Work Begins on L.A. Metro Gold Line Extension
Global Rail News reports that work will officially get underway on Phase 2B of the Foothill Gold Line extension in Los Angeles by getting the utilities out of the way.

The authority building the extension serving Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties has awarded a $2.6 million utility relocation contract to WA Rasic Construction. The contract is the first to be awarded for the $1.4 billion extension project. Work on moving the utilities will begin in October.

When completed, the project will extend the Gold Line 12.3 miles eastward from its current terminus in Asuza to Claremont, stopping at seven stations along the way. The Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority said the line could go further east to Montclair if San Bernardino County can fund it.

Major construction work on the extension should begin in 2020.

KC Streetcar Moves One Step Closer to Riverfront
On the day that Kansas City’s downtown streetcar carried its three millionth passenger, the Kansas City Streetcar Authority board voted to take the next step towards extending the line to the city’s riverfront park.

(AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

The Kansas City Business Journal reports that the authority board voted to approve a $300,000 study to design the northern extension of the line from the City Market to Berkley Riverfront Park. In addition to designing the extension, the study will perform an environmental assessment of the route and a structural assessment of the Grand Boulevard bridge that the extension will use to cross railroad tracks separating the City Market area from the riverbank.

The Port Authority of Kansas City (Port KC), the Streetcar Authority and the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority are jointly conducting the study, which Port KC is paying for. A previous study determined that the northern extension is feasible.

The Streetcar Authority intends to seek a Federal TIGER grant to cover part of the cost of building the extension, but Streetcar Authority Executive Director Tom Gerend said that prospects for federal funding were more uncertain under the new administration in Washington. The deadline for applying for the grant is October 16.

Oops! Aarhus Light-Rail Line Not Quite Ready for Prime Time
Local officials in the Danish city of Aarhus were all ready to take the wraps off the city’s brand-new Letbane light-rail network with an extravagant opening ceremony last week. But The Local reports that a last-minute safety flag thrown by the Danish Transport Authority forced the city to call the whole thing off, with no new date for the ceremonies set.

According to the report, the DTA raised a number of concerns with safety procedures that led system operator Keolis to cancel the scheduled September 30 opening. Keolis fired its security chief shortly after the DTA’s action.

A memo from Aarhus Letbane to Aarhus Municipality said that the agency expects to begin service at the end of October, but warned that even with five additional weeks to address DTA’s concerns, the line still might not be ready to open. The memo stated that the agency might instead wait until all the necessary approvals have been obtained from DTA before announcing an official start date for service.

Work on the 3.5-billion-kroner ($550 million U.S.) system began in 2013.

Know of a project that should be included in this column? Send a Tweet with links to @MarketStEl using the hashtag #newstarts.

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Next City contributor Sandy Smith is the home and real estate editor at Philadelphia magazine. Over the years, his work has appeared in Hidden City Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Inquirer and other local and regional publications. His interest in cities stretches back to his youth in Kansas City, and his career in journalism and media relations extends back that far as well.

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Tags: transportation spendinglight railbusesbike-sharestreetcars

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