Our Project for 2019-2020

Harrisburg Market Square Transfer Center Safety Enhancement & Plaza Revitalization

Problem Identification:

The Capital Area Transit (CAT) Bus Transfer Center located at the Market Square in downtown Harrisburg poses some serious public safety hazards which once even resulted in a pedestrian fatality. The Transfer Center Plaza is also underutilized, due to the lack of adequate amenities and attractions to draw people in.

Problem Analysis:

Market Square

Market Square has been part of Harrisburg city since the plan for the city was laid out in 1785. It has been witness to many historic events of national interest. This includes a speech delivered there by President-elect Lincoln on his way to Washington D.C for his first inauguration.

Capital Area Transit Bus Transfer Center

Market Square is situated at the heart of the city, located at the intersection of 2nd and Market streets. These streets are lined with many large structures housing a variety of businesses.

Located in the southeast of the Market Square is the hub/Transfer Center for the Capital Area Transit (CAT), the public transportation provider for the capital area. Around 60% of CAT’s annual 2.6 million riders connect through this Transfer Center, with an average of 3,000 riders using it daily.

Pedestrian Fatality

Market Street is a one-way street as it heads northward from the Transfer Center. However, the portion of the Market Street to the south of 2nd Street is two-way. So, the buses from the Transfer Center can turn left on to Market Street heading south, crossing 2nd street. A pedestrian trying to cross the Market Street would not expect buses turning to the left from the Transfer Center. On October 1st, 2018 a pedestrian was struck and killed by a bus that turned left from the Transfer Center. This prompted the city to initiate actions to prevent such unfortunate incidents in the future.

Revitalizing the Plaza area in the Transfer Center

The Transfer Center was constructed at a cost of 28 million dollars. The expectation when this was designed was that the plaza area of the Transfer Center would become a social and cultural hub. However, this never materialized since there is hardly anything there to catch people’s attention and interest. Instead of using the plaza area, bus riders wait for buses on the other side, closer to the bus lanes and M&T Bank.


We did multiple site visits to study the layout of the Transfer Center and the plaza area in order to propose possible solutions.

We had multiple meetings with Harrisburg City Engineer Wayne Martin for problem analysis and feasibility study of the solutions.

We met with Capital Area Transit (CAT) Chief Operating Officer Chris Zdanis and CAT Planner DeRon Jordan to study about the CAT operations, and the safety concerns they have.

We also did an onsite survey of the bus riders to understand their safety concerns and preferences.  

We collected additional information about the pedestrian fatality from pennlive.com – the leading online news website serving Central Pennsylvania.

We researched about CAT’s operations and safety initiatives from their website.

With firsthand knowledge of the situation, we were able to formulate a set of solutions to enhance pedestrian safety and to revitalize the plaza area. 

It is also expected that the eventual increase in bus ridership and better utilization of the plaza area would result in increased revenue generation for CAT and the city.

This is an aerial view of the Transfer Center. The Transfer Center has two bus lanes, with the buses entering the lanes from the south eastern tip of the Transfer Center. The plaza area of the Transfer Center is situated adjacent to the 2nd Street, to the south of the bus bays. The buses in the lane closer to the plaza area turn left on Market Street and those from the other lane turn right.


Megabytes did a careful study of the area to understand the layout of the center, plaza area, and the surrounding structures in order to propose possible solutions. Megabytes members also did an onsite survey of the bus riders to understand their concerns and preferences.  With firsthand knowledge of the situation, Megabytes was able to formulate a set of solutions to enhance the safety of bus riders and pedestrians and to revitalize the Transfer Center Plaza area. These solutions are expected to cause minimal disruptions to the surrounding businesses and traffic during the execution phase. It is also expected that, with the eventual increase in bus ridership and better utilization of the plaza area, the solutions proposed would result in increased revenue generation for CAT and the city.

Pedestrian Safety

  1. Signs for Awareness
    • Big signs to make pedestrians aware of where the bus is turning in from
    • Paint sidewalks “LOOK” or “CAUTION WHEN CROSSING”
  2. Audio and Visual Warning System
    • When the bus signal becomes green, that should trigger an audio warning from the crosswalk signal like “Caution, Bus approaching”
    • Flashing visual warning system also could be added
    • This way, the pedestrians are alerted before the bus is turning onto the street
  3. Replace one or two pieces of the barrier on the bus line side of the plaza towards rear of the bus line split, and make a new crosswalk between plaza and bus waiting lanes. This would help people waiting in Plaza area to safely cross the bus lanes to catch their bus. (we need picture to locate this)
    • Have speed bumps before it, so bus drivers will slow down
  4. Add barrier chains circular part of the Plaza facing Market Street and the opposite circle area at Hilton (we need picture to locate this)
    • This would prevent people from crossing the plaza from anywhere but the crosswalk
  5. More lights in the plaza will be good at night
    • It will also make people feel safer

Plaza Improvements

  1. Covered area in plaza
    • This can control the temperature and protect people from rain, snow, wind, etc.
    • 2nd Street facing wall if the covered area could be used for advertisements, and that could generate some revenue for City
    • If this is too expensive, at least a roof can be put up
  2. Entertainment
    • Set up multiple screens in the plaza
      • This will attract people into the plaza to watch it
    • More than one screen for different things
      • Sports, Movie/TV, News, etc.
    • Add benches/ leaning benches in the plaza area
  3. Attraction
    • Get local artists to paint the barrier on the 2nd street side
  4. Small Shops/Food Trucks/bus ticket Kiosks possibly placed over the brick rugs
    • Kiosks cans show bus timings
  5. Screens with display of exact/estimated time of bus arrival in plaza

Long Term Solutions

  1. Move the transit pickup/bus lanes to the AAA Alpine Taxi area
    • This way, the Market Square Transfer Center can be reused for making buildings and offices
    • Build an over-bridge crosswalk from the new transfer center to the Amtrak station to make easy access for riders to the train station and Greyhound bus station
  2. Make a 2-story building over the plaza and bus lanes
    • The bus lanes will be open like an underpass
    • 1st story can be used for entertainment purposes for people waiting for the buses
      • This can include the TV, small food trucks, bench barrier
    • 2nd story can be used as a small shopping complex considering that this is the center of the city
      • It can have small shops and concession stands
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