As we’ve seen previously in this series of posts on Transportation & Poverty, the costs associated with transportation for Rochesterians in poverty are considerable. Low-income workers are faced with a difficult choice – spend a high portion of their income on a car and associated expenses so that they can get to work in a reasonable amount of time or lose many hours each week commuting by public transportation, effectively reducing their hourly pay and crowding out other productive activities. The ongoing de-concentration of jobs and housing in our region only exacerbates this dilemma. Read more
So far, we’ve examined how long commute times limit the ability of low-income workers who live in high poverty areas in the City to reach jobs through public transportation. We have also explored how the cost of car ownership is often prohibitively expensive for these same individuals. This post will assess how the continuing sprawl of our region has a particularly negative impact on low-income residents. Read more
Last time, we explored the problem of the long commute in Rochester and its impact on the effective wage of low income workers. Obviously, we are not the first to point this problem out. You might logically conclude, like many well-meaning organizations have, that we must provide a program or mechanism through which low-income folks can receive or buy a reasonably priced car. After all, that is the mode of transit for an overwhelming majority of our region’s residents and studies have suggested that access to a vehicle is correlated with more hours worked and more wages earned. A chicken in every pot and a car in every backyard, right President Hoover? The cherry on top is that our region famously has some of the shortest driving commutes in the nation. Read more
Here in Rochester, most middle class households own a car or two and think nothing of driving to their place of employment. For these individuals, public transportation needs to be a competitive alternative to driving for them to ditch their cars. If a bus stops near a person’s home frequently and reliably, and drops that person off near their place of work within 10 minutes or so of what it would take them to drive, they may opt to commute by bus. Read more
Over the next two weeks, Reconnect Rochester is going to publish a series of pieces that explore the issue of poverty in our region. These articles will focus primarily on the intersection of poverty with public transportation, sprawl, and community planning. But before we start, it is important to have a firm understanding of what the problem is and why it is so pernicious in our region. Read more
The statistics are overwhelming – 111,000 Monroe County residents live in poverty, accounting for slightly more than 15% of the region’s total population. Within the City of Rochester, a full 34% of the City’s population (or over 68,000 people) live below the poverty line, including over 50% of children in the City. The percentage of City residents in poverty has risen by 30% since 1990, when less than 24% of City residents were impoverished. Read more
As Gridlock Sam Schwartz told us this past Wednesday, Rochester is a city ‘on the cusp’ and improving its transportation network is critical in keeping the momentum. The Community Design Center’s upcoming ReShaping Rochester lecture titled Mobility: Transportation as a Leveler will likely build on that message. It is exciting to us at Reconnect that these progressive transportation leaders are making their rounds through Rochester to share experiences and (hopefully) spark some action!
Given Rochester’s appalling poverty rate, ensuring access to goods, services, jobs and education through public transportation is especially important. Around 28,000 low-income households in our area have no vehicles. Transportation can be a huge barrier to accessing jobs, education, healthcare and other essential services…
If you weren’t in the audience this past Thursday evening at the first-ever Rochester Street Films, well, you missed one heck of a good time. Maybe you got stuck in traffic and had to turn back. We get it, life happens. While we can’t recreate the energetic live panel discussions, we can at least share a portion of the event with you here…
All over the country, cities are implementing new street design and traffic calming measures to make neighborhoods safer and more accessible for all who use them. This is an effort to reverse some of the negative consequences of policies that for decades have prioritized cars above the people who drive them…
Posted by: Matthew Denker, Advisory Board Member
Pop quiz! How much money does Monroe County contribute directly to the maintenance and operation of its road network each year? If you answered $13,000,0001 you are absolutely correct. If not, guess again.
So let’s imagine, for a moment, a future in which only half this money is spent on roads, and the other half goes towards other ways of getting around. What could we really get from this?
Posted by: DeWain Feller, Vice President
For decades, transportation planners were focused on moving and storing cars as efficiently as possible. The result today is that Rochesterians have become dependent on driving for virtually all trips. Homes, stores, offices, and industry have been moved outside of the effective reach of public transit. Our downtown’s dependence on parking has thinned out the core of our community until it has become a shell of its former self.
Today, many young singles (and empty nesters) are opting to do away with the expense of owning a car, and moving back into city centers. The cities that have shifted their transportation planning toward walking, biking, and public transit, are the ones that will capitalize the most…
Posted by: Mike Governale, President, Reconnect Rochester
Have you been following Reconnect Rochester over the past few years? Do you like the idea of increased transit options and walkable, more vibrant neighborhoods? If so, please consider making a year-end contribution and keep us rolling into 2015…
Posted by: Brenda Massie, Board Member and Secretary, Reconnect Rochester.
As July winds down, I find myself thinking about how summers in Rochester fly by. Already, one month has passed since our annual ROC Transit Day. This year brought new merchants and vendors, new fun events like the swing dance and treasure hunt; but more importantly, a new wave of enthusiasm for public transit.
As the Secretary of Reconnect, I sometimes find myself trying to convince people that using public transit can be an enjoyable and even fun way to get around. I tell them if you ride the bus you may meet people and see things you may not have noticed if you were driving in a car.
So, when I received the following email titled “Birding By Bus” from a brave neighbor that decided to try the bus on ROC Transit Day, I felt inclined to share. These ROC Transit Day-ers used their passes to have an unexpected stay-cation and noticed some wonderful things about our City along the way…
Posted by: Mike Governale
Greetings. I’m Mike Governale, founder of Reconnect Rochester. I’m a graphic designer, originally from the NYC area and I now live in Rochester, NY. I have a deep fascination and love of cities – how they are formed over time and the way they continue to evolve.
Dense urban places have proven themselves, over tens of thousands of years, to be arguably the most sustainable form of human habitation. But over the past 70 years many cities—especially those in the U.S.—have lost this edge.
I write a blog, RochesterSubway.com , that explores Rochester, “America’s first boom-town,” and how it suburbanized itself to near extinction. The site looks at the amazing physical and social history of this place. And what it needs to do before it can become urban, sustainable, and relevant, once again.
Last November I gave a talk at TEDxRochester. The talk focuses on how our transportation choices impact land use, and ultimately the health and sustainability of our community. I think the presentation serves as a good introduction to who I am and why Reconnect Rochester is so important to me…
Posted by: Carlos Mercado
Rochester, NY has about 1,035,000 population in its metro area; Buffalo is slightly larger with 1,124,000; and Syracuse has about 646,000. The combined metro population for the three major cities along the old New York Central Water Level Route is 2,804,000.
In terms of rank, Buffalo is 50th, Rochester is 51st, and Syracuse is 81st. As a combined area, we would become 19th largest, edging out Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, FL and just behind St. Louis. Nice, eh?
Posted by: Bob Williams
Imagine a Rochester without an noose-like expressway dividing downtown-adjacent neighborhoods on the north and east sides. An obstacle to true connectivity for over 50 years, imagine the loop and its ramps filled in to grade instantaneously at the snap of your fingers. Naturally the next question arrives in our minds immediately, ‘How will we utilize this reclaimed real estate?’
If the goals are to reconnect severed neighborhood conduits, promote commerce, reduce car dependence, ensure ease of navigation, and foster a dynamic and vibrant streetscape, the answer lies not in a grandiose vision of the future, but more likely in our historic roots.
Consider the example of Alexandria, Virginia. Originally platted in 1749 on land donated by Philip and John Alexander, six fundamental tenets of Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND) differentiate this inviting river city from generic drivable suburbanism…
By now you’ve probably have heard of this thing called transit-oriented development (T.O.D.) . If you haven’t you might be living in a cave. Or you might live in Rochester. Sorry—cheap shot.
No worries, let’s get you up to speed with this quick video from the Streetfilms crew. It shows how investment in public transit, along with some zoning changes, has made the New Jersey Hudson River waterfront a new boomtown. The area has attracted some $5 billion in residential development since light rail came in.
According to Robert Cotter, director of city planning for Jersey City, “That’s a testament to transit-rich development… The communities that have access to fixed rail are going to be the richest in the coming century.”
Reconnect Rochester is a group of transportation advocates calling for the creation of a fully integrated multi-modal transportation network for our region. We believe the next Mayor has the opportunity to champion a dramatic shift in our transportation infrastructure. The transit system this city and region needs will require dedication of time, staff and resources.
We urge all candidates to pledge their commitment to this vision as part of their platform for candidacy.
Read what each candidate had to say about this document and the future of Rochester’s transit system below.
What follows is our reasoning and recommendations for the future Mayor to incorporate into his or her platform.
*Cross Posted by RochesterSubway.com
Congresswoman Louise Slaughter recently announced that a $1.5 million federal stimulus grant has been awarded to New York state to plan for a new multi-modal station on the site. A $2.5 million appropriation to pay for the station design is expected to pass Congress next month. And Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo has just made it abundantly clear that New York will take whatever federal money is left on the table by newly elected GOP governors in Ohio and Wisconsin.
So for now, let’s just assume that something very interesting is in the works for our pitiful excuse for a train station. This is the perfect time to take a step back in time—to be inspired by Rochester’s grand old stations…
…Okay great, now here’s an update. Since that article, traffic to RochesterSubway.com has doubled, our Facebook fan club has grown from 100 to over 400 (and counting), and my inbox hasn’t had a moments rest. This is all very encouraging and a sure sign that the people of Rochester really want to see their city thrive. The big question is; do the people of Rochester care enough to make an effort? All signs point to yes. So far we’ve got 12 people (including myself) who have risen to the challenge. Together we will lead a city wide movement to Reconnect Rochester.
Last Saturday morning, one day after a northeast blizzard moved thru our area, 5 passionate Rochesterians dug there way out of their homes and met me for lunch at Legend’s Bar & Grill. Against the backdrop of a bus-lined Main Street we introduced ourselves and got right down to swapping ideas about how we could help put Rochester back on track—pun intended…