When it comes to politics and transit, Skybus is the mysterious force that connects it all here in Pittsburgh. I really am not joking. To this day almost nothing in regional transit development does not suffer from some aspect of the demise of Skybus. The busways, the T, the lack of a Spine Line and everything to the North Shore Connector are all merely vestiges of trying to salvage something of what was once planned back in the 1960's. Too long to get into here, but I swear it is true. Fodder for another day/week/year/decade.
As for the politics of it all. Just read this: SKYBUS Pittsburgh's Failed Industry Targeting Strategy of the 1960s. by Morton Coleman, David Houston and Edward K. Muller. 2000.
On public transit... Sometimes I get asked some question about transit in Pittsburgh starting like this "Why doesn't Pittsburgh have ....".. and you can fill in the end of the sentence yourself. A real subway? Commuter rail? A clue? My answer is really Skybus, the nexus of it all. When you add it all up, nowhere else has a region gone from being so far ahead of the curve to so far behind when it comes to public transit. Some places have always been transit backwaters. Some have always been ahead of the curve and some places have made great progress moving from the former to the latter. But when it comes to moving backwards we stand alone. We have only to look to ourselves for once being on the cutting edge and just collapsing. Collapsing in vision, in funding, in focus and just plain implementation. My explanation is that it all goes to the multiyear, if not multidecade, trauma that was not to become Skybus which sapped all the energy there was to making transit better here. Now our only meaningful transit goal is a narrow ill-considered definition of 'efficiency'.
From my list of favorite YouTube videos is this of the Skybus history: