This article was originally published as part of the Grow PA solutions journalism project, published by Technical.ly and underwritten in part by The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia.
Connecting Johnstown to Pittsburgh will take some creative transportation solutions. But who’s leading the drive?
Donald Bonk, an economic development consultant and Johnstown native, makes the drive from Johnstown to Allegheny County at least twice a week.
During a recent trip, he spoke about what he sees as one of the biggest obstacles to revitalization for Cambria County: The lack of transportation options to Pittsburgh.
“We had a meeting with [County Executive] Rich Fitzgerald, and the things most important to him are jobs and workforce development for Allegheny County,” said Bonk. “But he recognizes the need for regional thinking.”
Bonk, who owns Good Future Innovations, is also an economic development consultant at Carnegie Mellon University. He knows both Johnstown and Pittsburgh well, and thinks each would benefit from being better connected one another.
But it’s not clear whether there’s strong enough motivation to get buses or trains running between the two biggest cities in Western Pennsylvania.
“It won’t be an easy road.”
Driving from Johnstown to Pittsburgh is a bit too long for most people to make it a daily commute. If you take the turnpike, it’s about an hour and 40 minutes; on more rural Route 22, about an hour and a half.
The current non-car options for making the trip are less than optimal for business travel, Bonk said. Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian train, the singular and most convenient option for full-day commuters, leaves Pittsburgh at 7:30 a.m., arrives in Johnstown at 9:30 a.m and makes the return trip to Pittsburgh at 6:30 p.m.
Bonk isn’t satisfied.