A new stop on Atherton at Curtin

A northbound stop on Atherton at Curtin could save V N W outbound riders from north campus—that’s 30% of pre-pandemic riders—more than 16 minutes each trip, or over 1,700 days for the riders who use the stop over the course of a year.1

There are two reasons this stop should be added now:

  • When express buses are not running, especially midday because of operator shortages, riders from North Campus must board at Pattee and ride more than 16 minutes around campus to get back to Atherton at Curtin. Instead, they could walk 5 minutes to Atherton St.
  • The Walker Building stop will likely be closed for a significant portion of the next few years while there are lane restrictions on Atherton during construction, so there will be a mile-long gap of coverage between College at Allen and Hillcrest. Reopening the College at University Club stop would also improve coverage in the area.2

This northbound stop and an additional southbound stop for the RC would:

  • Better serve the expanding West Campus
  • Reduce crowding on campus and downtown, potentially speeding boarding times even with the extra stop
  • Increase ridership due to faster, more convenient commutes
  • Allow for the possibility of Atherton-only (potentially BRT-like) through-service between, say, Vairo and Waupelani without detouring from Atherton in the future

PennDOT seems open to adding concrete pads at Curtin northbound and southbound during their reconstruction of Atherton St as long as someone from CATA reaches out in support.

1 Benefit calculations:

  • Total ridership on V N W A and G routes versus all routes Feb 22, 2019 YTD (latest data available online), assuming all riders ride twice daily. Adding total Pattee and Pavilion Theater boardings for these routes would probably produce a more precise estimate.
  • Buses going north on Atherton outbound don’t stop between the Walker building near downtown and Hillcrest well into College Heights. It takes over 16 minutes for buses to get from Pattee back to Curtin at Atherton going outbound according to V timetables.
  • It takes 12 minutes to walk from the Pavilion Theater stop to Atherton at Curtin and 16 minutes from the Computer Building stop, so I assume riders who currently board at Pattee and Pavilion Theater might walk to Curtin Road. Some would not, but others from other parts of campus might, balancing the estimate. Total ridership would also probably grow due to faster commutes.
  • Total time saved is 16 minutes per person per day (yearly ridership), divided by two for only outbound ridership at pre-pandemic ridership levels. I then divided by 3 to account for the people traveling outbound who would not choose to walk to Atherton at Curtin. This seems roughly correct based on the 2017 Articulated Bus Study route ridership visualizations. The actual number is probably, slightly more precisely, the percentage of outbound riders who currently board these buses at Pattee and Pavilion Theater, and might be higher, especially now with less express service. This calculation led to 1,786 days lost per year.

2 Concerns of jaywalking between the Standard and a CATA stop at the University Club are overblown. The two residential entrances to the Standard are located on on the Atherton St facade and on the Burrowes St facade, located near the Burrowes St crosswalk across College. Virtually no residents would be crossing College in the middle of the building. Without parallel parking on this stretch of College, sight lines of drivers and jaywalking pedestrians are quite clear. Jaywalking is not necessarily less safe than crossing at crosswalks. Jaywalking is a fact of urban street life, and transit access should not be limited due to fears of it.