Unique service helping areas with limited public transportation

PITTSBURGH — What happens if you rely on public transportation to get work, but it doesn't get you close enough?

There's a service in the airport corridor that's looking to expand its coverage area to help more people, and Carnegie Mellon University is helping them figure out the best way to do it.

Ty Heath uses a shuttle to get to his job in Robinson. He gets it from the Port Authority stop at the IKEA.

"It makes it possible for me to actually go to work," Heath, a Ride ACTA rider, said. "If there was no shuttle service, I wouldn't be able to work where I work."

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Without many sidewalks in that busy area, folks were forced to walk sometimes one or two miles to get to work after their bus dropped them off before Ride ACTA came into the picture 10 years ago.

Adrien Washington is one of the two morning Ride ACTA shuttle drivers who pick people up in Robinson.

"Don't nobody want to walk two miles and then work eight hours. That's not good," Washington said.

Washington helps get people to 250 businesses -- from hotels to retailers, to restaurants and even big corporations -- in the airport corridor.

Seeing the need grow to 85,000 rides a year, Executive Director Lynn Manion won a CMU contest to get some help exploring an expansion into Moon Township.

"So, CMU is helping us to figure out, based on our past ridership and past service, what's the best way to run this new service," Manion said.


They're looking to create a third hub stop on University Boulevard in the next six to eight months.

CMU professor Sean Qian and his students are studying whether pickup and dropoff locations should change or if they can create an app so riders can report their location.

It's the second year the university is doing what it calls a Smart Mobility Challenge to help suburban communities dealing with mobility issues.

"It's very exciting that CMU researchers such as me … that we can use the technologies that was in the research in the university, and then we can try to apply the technology and test the technology in the real-world environment," Qian said.

The research started in July and will last for a year.