PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - On Friday morning, the Wood Street T station was all fenced off as Pittsburgh Regional Transit closed it for at least two weeks for construction. However, some folks caught it off guard.
As Willie Perkins was on his way to work, he was surprised as he approached the Wood Street T station.
"It's just an inconvenience," Perkins said. "This actually will make me late."
The station will remain closed until at least 4 p.m. on Dec. 22, as PRT crews replace all four escalators and continue work on ongoing light-rail projects. Instead, the agency says commuters should use the Steel Plaza or Gateway stations. It also said there should be no delays.
"I could have stayed on the bus and caught the bus to the [other] train station, but I got off here because [Wood Street is] quicker," Perkins said.
Perkins wasn't the only rider who didn't know about the changes. The same went for Trevor Jones and Diamond Reed.
"Coming here is convenient to move around throughout the city. This is like one of the main centers," Jones said. "It can get really crowded down here really fast and these help people move freely throughout downtown."
"This is people's main source of transportation. When people who don't have cars or can't take their cars downtown," Reed said. "They have to wake up earlier and then people have kids and stuff like that, that they have to attend to, so that just messes up everybody's schedule."
Despite posts on social media, press releases to local news outlets, and signs outside stations, some commuters say the PRT needs to do better at getting the word out to their target audience, including on cell phone apps.
"It's not like we had someone call and say, 'Hey, the trains out for two weeks,' that's a long time," Reed said.
They understand the reason for the closure. They just want communication to improve.
"We pay to ride, so at least tell us when we can't ride," Perkins said.
KDKA reached out to PRT for comment on the cell phone communication. The agency sent the following statement:
"Several third-party mobile applications use our data to provide riders with options for locating our vehicles in real time. Unfortunately, not all of these applications include all the information that we provide, including updated service bulletins. For the most reliable, up-to-date information, we encourage riders to visit truetime.rideprt.org which can also be accessed through our mobile app Ready2Ride in the Apple App and Google Play stores."
Expect more potential closures at Wood Street in the coming months as the escalators will not be fully installed until March 2024.
Starting Friday night more service will be disrupted downtown for the next couple of weekends. From Dec. 8 at 8 p.m. to Dec. 11, and again, between Dec. 15 to 18, inbound rail service will end at Penn Station (the station along the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. East Busway). Anyone riding to Gateway, North Side, or Allegheny stations should exit the T at Penn station, where they can board a free shuttle bus to Gateway. Once at Gateway, they can then take a rail car to the North Side and Allegheny stations.
Also, as a part of these weekend closures, outbound rail service from the North Shore toward downtown will end at Gateway. Anyone riding toward the South Hills should exit the T at Gateway station, where they can board a shuttle bus from a temporary stop sign outside the station. The bus will then transport riders to Penn Station to get on rail cars heading to the South Hills.
Outside Wood Street station, you will be able to find shuttle buses at the temporary stop on Liberty Avenue just past Strawberry Way.
With these weekend changes, PRT suggests riders allow for 30 to 45 more minutes to their commute.
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