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SORRIEST BUS STOPS: Narberth vs. Pittsburgh

4:11 PM EDT on April 1, 2021

Editor's Note: This is the second Elite Eight match up in the Sorriest Bus Stop contest. Our first bout, Queens vs. Québec City, is still raging, though as of pub time, New York City is taking a bit of a beating; whether you want to turn the tide or help the French Candians hold onto their lead, there's still time to cast your vote, and don't forget to scroll to the bottom to weigh in today's battle.

Pennsylvania made a surprisingly strong showing in this year's Sorriest Bus Stop nominations — but who would have guessed that two stops in the Keystone State would square off in the Elite Eight?

Today, we're pitting our two surviving contenders from PA against each other, and calling on every transit agency in the Quaker State (and yours) to be a better friend to its riders.

Let's dive in.

Narberth’s Vegetation Abomination

This Philly-area fiasco fleeced the competition in round one, thanks to the stunning combination of a guardrail, a shoulderless, 45-mph road, and an overgrown bush.

Narberth 2

Technically located in Lower Merion Township (but it has a Narberth address, so we're keeping the bracket as-is), the community where this road is located has the fifth-highest per-capita income and the 12th-highest median household income in the entire country, at least for a city with a population of 50,000 or more. In a rational world, this rich enclave would easily be able to redesign this road to add some sidewalks and make space for a stop that's not directly in the travel lane...but since this is a state-owned route, they probably wouldn't even have the local authority to make it that much safer.

When we let him know that his weed-choked waiting area made the Atrocious Eight, nominator Ethan pointed out that all the roads adjacent to this stop are equally inaccessible to would-be bus riders:

Getting to the stop is super difficult as all three roads at that intersection have NO shoulders and guardrail on the sides guarding the cliffs [but not the walkers]. To see what I am talking about look for yourself on Google Maps at the intersection of Hollow Road and Conshohocken State Road and go down any of those roads to see how a pedestrian could possibly walk there."

Ethan says the SEPTA network is responsible for maintaining this stop. If it wins the Sorriest Bus Stop contest, maybe we could take up a collection to buy the agency a weed-whacker.

Pittsburgh’s Sloping Slap In the Face

Meanwhile on the opposite side of the state, the Steel City is forcing riders to fight through a little vegetation of their own – though in this case, it's located in the middle of a sorry crosswalk, rather than at the  sorry stop itself.

Pittsburgh 1

Serving the number 12 route in the city's far-north side, it's hard to say how much action this route gets; the agency reported 620 average daily riders on the line last year, but that was between April and December, 2020, a.k.a. the peak of the pandemic-prompted transit Apocalypse.

But prior to the pandemic, Pittsburgh on the whole was coming to be known as a distinctly bus-friendly city; it even made national headlines in 2019 for reporting impressive prior-year ridership increases, just as bus commuting fell almost everywhere else in the U.S.

"Culture-wise, it’s fairly normal for locals to take alternative forms of transportation to get to work. Only 64 percent of Pittsburgh commuters drive to work, and 17 percent use public transit; Nationally, 86 percent of commuters drive and 5 percent use public transit," wrote Pittsburgh native Eve Andrews over at Grist.  "But that car-free mentality (and opportunity) doesn’t necessarily apply outside of the city. If you look at Allegheny County, 81 percent of the population drives to work — 72 percent without any additional passengers."

This one is technically located just outside the city limits (though it still has a Pittsburgh address), but we think those commuters still deserve a great stop — or at least one that does something to make crossing that 55 mile per hour road a little safer. Voters in the first round agreed, but Littleton, Colo. put up a good fight; will Pittsburgh prevail in this bout?

Okay, Streetsbloggers, it's time to let us know: Coal State stop is crappy enough to advance to the Foresaken Four? Polls are open until 4 p.m. on Sunday April 4.

[poll id="182"]

Here's the bracket so far, if you've got a betting pool going:

SBS2021 (11)

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