The one thing really interesting about Pittsburgh are the number of bridges and tunnels there are in and around the city. In one article I read it said that Pittsburgh now beats out Venice, Italy as the city with the most bridges within the city limits. They claim to have 3 more then Venice. It was either in that article or another that I read that in fact they are not entirely sure how many bridges should be counted as it really doesn't include all the pedestrian and railroad bridges. Whatever the number is I concur that there are one heck of a lot of bridges in Pittsburgh.
On the main Interstate road into town you first go through the Fort Pitt Tunnel (picture #2) and when exiting the tunnel have to make up your mind pretty quick where you want to go as there are 3 options: 1) one straight into downtown, 2) one to the Strip District and 3) one to the Cultural District. If you don't get off on the right exit you will find yourself backtracking a little bit to get where you really want to get to.
Our first time coming into town from our hotel 11 miles away I made the right decision on a Friday night about 7:00 p.m. Fortunately, traffic was very light and even if I had selected the wrong lane I would have had a little time and distance to recover.
With a plethora of one-way streets, bridges, exits ramps, steep roads, rivers, tunnels, hills, and drivers making Pittsburgh lefts, the city can be difficult to drive around. To make matters worse, my Garmin Nuvi can't hardly talk fast enough to tell me when and where to turn when taking the bridges and parkways around downtown. Add sporting events at the downtown stadiums and arenas and soon casino traffic, and rush hours get interesting. What happens when there's a sports championship parade blocking all streets downtown?
In Pittsburgh, buses are free downtown within the Golden Triangle as far as Ross Street or 11th Street until 7 pm, then the fares range from $1.50 to $3.25 depending on how far you go. During special events the max fare goes up to over $5.
On Pittsburgh buses, you pay as you board when you're going toward downtown and pay as you depart the bus on your way away from Downtown.
The 28X bus runs an express route between the airport and downtown. The cost is just $2.75 and takes maybe 25 minutes to get downtown from the airport.
One Zone $20.00
Two Zone $24.00
Three Zone $30.00
One Zone $75.00
Two Zone $90.00
Three Zone $110.00
One Zone $825.00
Two Zone $990.00
Three Zone $1,210.00
If you don't have a car, you can go anywhere by subway or bus. By subway, for the 4 first stations from downtown, it's free for charge. But if you wanna go by bus, you can take some bus schedules from subway station. You can buy some weekly or monthly pass at Giant Eagle.
Pittsburgh's Airport is huge for a city of its size. At the center of the airport's terminal is a shopping mall, with plenty of shops and restaurants to occupy your time if you get stuck with a multi-hour layover. We actually have done some of our Christmas shopping their when we have flown to Pittsburgh to visit Mike's family.
Once in Pittsburgh, I'd say the predominant method of transportation will be your feet or when hopping to other areas, taxis. There is a subway and it's FREE within city limits (!!) but don't let that good news fool you. There are only 3 stops in downtown proper.
The true downtown area is a rather small triangle of streets and buildings. There's really no need for either a taxi or a bus here. Wander around and soon enough you'll be on the banks of one of the rivers. Head downstream and you'll find your way to the point.
The downside is that once you'd done the downtown thing, you really need to get into the outer areas for the attractions. You can either walk across the bridges for many of them (something I'd suggest doing at least once) or hail a taxi. There is an extensive bus system in Pittsburgh but i've never been able to get my hands on it and figure out where I'm going. Pittsburgh is divided into so many outlying areas that you could end up on a bus and be transported just about anywhere.
Traffic in Pittsburgh is terrible. Take the combination of road rage, one way streets, too many cars, and frequent bad weather... and driving yourself around the city becomes hellish. The buses, however much native burghers complain about them, are a god send to students and work commuters alike. Travelers not used to driving in a hectic city setting may find the transit system helpful as well. Depending on the zone you are in, bus fare costs between $1.25 and $2.75, although transfers can be purchased for $.50 and are good for three hours. A weekly pass, again depending on zone, costs between $16.50 and $25.75. Monthly and yearly passes are also avaliable and a ten trip pass costs between $12.50 to $27.50.
Visit the Pittsburgh port authority website and click on the "schedule" button to find out about the latest bus routes. You can select an area of Pittsburgh to find out what buses run where and at what time.
Although very small , the T subway system of Pittsburgh can be helpful in getting around. It runs through four downtown stations, one of which is at Station Square, a very popular shopping and night-life site of the city. Fare for all downtown stations but Station Square ($1.25), is free. The system also runs through a few South Hills neighborhoods and fares for these areas run between $1.25 and $1.75.
I have driven, and it takes about 8 hours from just north of Chicago. I have also flown out of Midway on Air Tran for very little $.
A car is very handy, but a word of caution, if you are directionally challenged (like me) you must get a detailed map and study it before you drive anywhere. If you take a wrong turn you will not just be able to go around the block to get back where you came from, you have to stop and turn around or else you will be LOST. This is an incredibly challenging driving experience. If you have some patience and don't mind asking bus drivers for help you can get around downtown on the bus. I have driven around town and I have taken the bus. Alot of times the bus was easier because parking is also an issue. I think the number 500 bus probably gets you to within 4 blocks of most places you want to visit. The bus drivers were very helpful.
The airport is a good distance from the city. The train and bus stations come directly into the city.
I'd suggest renting a car and asking directions from the people where you are staying. They will give you landmarks instead of street names - this is good, as street signs aren't always clear.
Public transportation is available and relatively inexpensive, but can be tricky if you're not familiar with it or the city.
Getting from the airport to town and exploring the city
Pittsburgh International Airport is 16 miles (26 kilometers) from downtown Pittsburgh. Buses from the airport cost about 12 USD whilst a taxi cab is approximately 28 USD. Travelers are advised to check the credentials of taxi drivers. Approved companies include Yellow Cab, People's Cab and Colonial Transit. There is a large variety of reliable and safe transport options in and around Pittsburgh although the delights of the downtown area are so close together that walking is recommended.
The trolley or "T" is Pittsburgh's Subway system moving around downtown and the south hills.
It is priced the same as the buses.
The 28X Airport Flyer is the bus that will take you from the airport into the city. Actually, this bus goes all the way to Oakland if you are interested in going that far.
At the baggage claim area, just go to where the taxis are and the bus area is around there.
Pittsburgh International Airport is ranked as one of the best airports in the world. It is new,and state of the art. It has an airmall and a people mover train underground that takes you to the terminals. Also major highways intersect in and around the city. I-79 is the main north/south route, I-70 and I-76(PA Turnpike) run to the south and I-579,I-379,I-279 all intertwine and connect you with various places. Keep in mind that since Pittsburgh is built in the mountains,the roads are narrow at some points and windy and traffic can get heavy. So be careful. Pittsburgh aslo has traffic tunnels,which are really cool. The main one,Fort Pitt Tunnel is currently under construction,so use caution if driving into PGH.
Taxi's I suppose,also I just drive. There is some parking in the city. Also,there is a free subway that a few stops that connect major sights downtown.
Want to catch a Pirates or Steelers game and don't want to fight traffic? Try parking across the Mon River at Station Square and taking the Gateway Clipper ships. It's easy and inexpensive -- on game nights, they drop off and pick up right at the stadiums. There are also several good places to eat before a night game at Station Square where the Clipper docks.