Navigating in Pittsburgh can be a challenge. Constrained by rivers and hills, the streets go every which way; the bus system seems incomprehensible to the uninitiated, and drivers who let their concentration wander from driving to navigating risk being surprised by the infamous Pittsburgh Left.
That being said, the 'burgh is filled with colorful locals who largely appreciate the challenges that newcomers face and are happy to help. The same hills that make walking a workout also make for spectacular views, and the twisty streets give rise to interesting neighborhoods whose character may change completely in the span of just a few blocks.
Wikitravel's Pittsburgh page gives a good overview.
The Port Authority operates the Pittsburgh transit system, and while their website is marginally useful for finding information on fares and the like, it's essentially useless for trip planning. Fortunately, Google Maps does a good job here.
Almost all bus routes go to and from downtown; in fact, they're laid out like spokes in a wheel, with downtown being the center.
There are a number of options for getting to the conference from the Pittsburgh airport depending on how quickly you want to move, what you want to spend, and how many bags you have.
* Taxi: easiest option; a cab from the airport will run you somewhere in the neighborhood of $45 plus tip. Not too expensive if split a few ways. Lots of room for bags and will be as fast as the flow of traffic allows.
* Bus: cheapest option; $2.60 gets you from the airport to the city proper. Go out door 6 after you pick up your bags to find the bus stop; the route is the 28x Airport Flyer. Exact change in cash (bills or coins) required; Port Authority tickets and passes accepted; pay as you enter. Runs every 30 minutes. Not as fast as driving but often not much slower, since the bus uses parkways and dedicated busways for much of the run to downtown. Biggest downside is that this is an ordinary city bus with no luggage racks or the like, so if you are lugging about a gigantor wheeled suitcase, this may not be the best option for you.
* Rental Cars: The usual suspects have kiosks at the airport, renting cars at the typical extortionate airport rates, no doubt. Avis has a one-way drop-off (destination is Pittsburgh/Oakland-(PBP)) in the area of CMU. 1 day rental is about $25 online. This would be useful if you can only arrange the pickup or the drop-off.
As an aside, the airside terminal has wifi throughout, and unlike most airports, it's reasonably fast and completely free (free as in beer).
version 9 saved on 05/17/09 07:37 PM by Jason Switzer (s1n)