Citing a sharp drop in ridership and a heightened need for thorough cleaning and disinfecting of its buses amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Westmoreland County Transit Authority announced numerous route and schedule changes Thursday.
“We cut, but we’ve tried to keep some level of service in all the areas we serve in the county,” Westmoreland Transit executive director Alan Blahovec said. “We are going to continue to run a couple of the commuter routes just to make sure that if people do need to get to Pittsburgh for work or other reasons, that’s still available. We really wanted to make sure we’re going to the grocery stores and the things locally that we know people need to get to.”
All route changes announced Thursday will go into effect Monday, March 30.
With more people staying home and those who do need to travel or commute avoiding public transit if possible because of coronavirus concerns, the bus system has taken a big hit in recent weeks.
“Ridership is the main reason for cutting it, but it also helps us prepare better because that’s less drivers we have to use every day and have out working,” Blahovec said. “It’s also less buses that we have to use, so we can spend more time making sure they’re cleaned and disinfected.
“The fixed route is down, we’re looking at about an 80% decrease in ridership. It’s down significantly, and rightfully so. People shouldn’t be piling onto buses.”
Under the modified schedule, morning commuter trips for Route 1F from Greensburg to Pittsburgh depart from the Westmoreland Crossroads Park & Ride at 5:15 and 6:50 a.m. Route 1F afternoon trips from Pittsburgh to Greensburg depart from the Federal Reserve Building at 3:40, 4 and 5 p.m. under the modified schedule.
Morning trips from the Latrobe area (Route 2F) will depart from the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport Park & Ride at 5:20 a.m. Two afternoon return trips will depart from the Federal Reserve Building in Pittsburgh at 3:40 and 5:10 p.m.
Route 3F morning trips to Pittsburgh will depart from Countryside Plaza Park & Ride in the Mount Pleasant area at 5:20 a.m. with an afternoon return trip leaving the Federal Reserve Building at 5:10 p.m.
The New Kensington-Pittsburgh Flyer (Route 14F) departs Hyde Park Road at 6:15 a.m. and a return trip leaves the Federal Reserve Building at 5:05 p.m.
The authority will continue offering its Greensburg-Pittsburgh Local (Route 4) with Pittsburgh-bound trips departing the Greensburg Transit Center beginning at 8:30 a.m. and the last inbound trip daily leaving the transit center at 2:30 p.m. Trips from Pittsburgh to the transit center begin departing from Forbes and Grant daily at 10:30 a.m. The last outbound trip of the day leaves at 4:30 p.m.
Westmoreland Transit has also made changes to service for its local routes, including the temporary discontinuation of Route 20F, the East Flyer, which has stops in Ligonier Derry, Latrobe and Unity Township as well as Westmoreland Mall in Hempfield Township and Davis Shopping Center in Greensburg, as well as Routes 18F (Irwin-Greensburg Flyer).
Route 9, the Greensburg-Latrobe Shopper, will be operating on its Saturday schedule Monday through Saturday, departing the transit center at 10:15 a.m. each day. The last stop for the route will be 5:25 p.m. in Latrobe at the corner of Ligonier and Main streets.
The Johnstown-Latrobe local route (Route 11) will run with reduced hours, starting service in New Florence at 8:35 a.m. and ending service in Seward at 3:55 p.m.
Greensburg-Mount Pleasant local Route 16 will start service at the transit center at 10:15 a.m. and end service at the transit center at 4:04 p.m.
“As of now, I plan to operate this schedule as long as we can or as long as we need to,” Blahovec said. “If we find the situation changes and we can start adding back in, we’ll do that as soon as it’s possible. The same thing goes, if we’re going to make any further cuts, we’ll announce those through our social media, our website and we’ll make sure to get press releases out as well.”
Other local service changes include:
- Route 5 Jeannette Shopper, operating on the Route 5S Saturday schedule;
- Route 6 Greensburg-Irwin, starting at Kohl’s at 9:38 a.m. following regular routing. Service will end at 4:09 p.m. at the transit center;
- Route 8 Greensburg-Youngwood-New Stanton, starting at 10:15 a.m. at the transit center. Service will end at 4:05 p.m. at the transit center;
- Route 12 Greensburg-New Kensington, starting at 10:15 a.m. at the transit center. Service will end at 4:30 p.m. at Autumn Brook Apartments;
- Route 14 Local New Kensington, operating on the 14S Saturday schedule;
- Route 14J, will have trips to Walmart at Pittsburgh Mills at 12:25 and 3:53 p.m. No trips to Penn State or Leeds;
- Route 15 Avonmore-New Kensington, starting service at Avonmore Civic Center at 11:35 a.m. Service will end at the civic center at 4:30 p.m.;
- Route 17 Local Scottdale, starting service at Walmart at 9:20 a.m. Service will end at the Scottdale American Legion at 2:46 p.m.