Transportation Options in Pittsburgh – How to Navigate the City

Posted By Jeremy in Plan a Trip

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We’re not going to lie, navigating Pittsburgh can be quite difficult for someone who is not used to the roads. Downtown is triangular rather than on a square grid, highways are built on top of highways, and there are many road oddities all throughout the city.

That being said, we can say that there are many options to get around Pittsburgh for those looking to visit or live in the city. The following is a selection of the very best recommendations we can provide.

Get In From the Airport

Downtown Pittsburgh is located approximately 20 miles from the airport.  Upon exiting the airport take 376 East until you pass through the Fort Pitt tunnel and emerge in downtown.

Typical drive times from the airport are approximately 25-30 minutes without traffic; however, during rush hour or on game days traffic may build up at Green Tree Hill and also at the 376/79 interchange.  It is not uncommon for the drive to take an hour or longer at these times.

For those without a car, the 28X Airport Flyer has two services, one to downtown Pittsburgh and Oakland and a second to Robinson Town Center.  For the full bus schedule, please check out times and stops at the Port Authority website.

Get Around the City By Car

Driving around the city of Pittsburgh is not the easiest thanks to two major reasons:

  • First, downtown is arranged in the shape of a triangle and not a square grid like most cities.
  • Second, lane expansion is not the easiest task and you may find that multiple roads exist going along similar paths as some are, quite literally, built on top of the previous ones.

These oddities often pose problems for visitors who think they are on the right road but then later find they are on the wrong one and have no clear and easy way of getting where they wish to go.  As a result, we highly recommend having an updated GPS when traveling through Pittsburgh.

Likewise, keep in mind that many neighborhoods in Pittsburgh have permit parking for residents and have restricted visitor parking to less than 1-2 hours (also be aware of street cleaning schedules).  Metered parking is readily available in commercial areas and most meters now accept credit card- although a few coin operated ones still remain.  Likewise, Downtown, the stadium areas on the North Side, and the Strip District all have pay-per-parking lots available with variable rates that change based on the day of the week, the number of hours parked, or if an event is going on.

Get Around the City By Bus

Pittsburgh has a fairly comprehensive public bus network that reaches most corners of the city, including the 28X service to the airport.  Keep in mind that many routes terminate downtown so you may have to prepare for a minimum of one transfer to get around.  This also means that the buses tend to get stuck in the same rush hour traffic as everyone else, so depending on where you’re going you may have to plan to arrive earlier than anticipated.

Pittsburgh city buses also require exact change for payment and have several payment restrictions and other details that users of the public system should be aware of.  A full guide to the costs and payment methods for using the public buses can be found here.

The current bus schedule for all routes can be found at the Port Authority.  A full bus map can be found here.

Other Transportation Options

In addition to public buses, Pittsburgh has a few additional transit options, including the following:

  • The Duquesne and Monongahela Inclines – The last remaining historical funiculars that go up and down Mount Washington.  The two inclines are about a 15-minute walk from each other. (Rates)
    • The Monongahela Incline connects to the T at Station Square (bottom) and provides easy access to the shops at Shiloh Street on Mount Washington (top).
    • The Duquesne Incline offers the iconic view of Pittsburgh on Mount Washington (top) and has a parking lot at the bottom for visitors.  This incline is also next to the fine-dining options on Grandview Avenue.
  • The T (Light Rail) – Train that connects the southern suburbs to downtown and the stadiums. (Rates)
    • The T is free for transit within downtown (First Avenue to Allegheny stops only).
    • Proposed extensions to the T have been made to go to Oakland and the Airport, but don’t hold your breath on this happening any time soon.
  • Healthy Ride Bikes – Healthy Ride bike kiosks are available in dozens of spots around the city at a rate of approximately $2/30 minutes. Check out our review of Healthy Ride here!
  • University Shuttles – Students of the University of Pittsburgh, Chatham, and Carnegie Mellon can ride their respective university shuttle for free when they present their ID card.
  • Taxi – Taxi services are available in Pittsburgh and cross-town rates start at $10-20 and airport transfers are likely at $35-50 depending on distance (prices have not been verified first-hand).
  • Uber – Uber services are available in Pittsburgh and cross-town rates start at $15-20 and airport transfers begin at $30-40 (prices have not been verified first-hand).

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