12 Comments

Our Suggestions for a Reimagined RTS

[ Make your voice heard. Take the Reimagine RTS survey. ]

Last week RGRTA announced a plan to “Reimagine RTS.” Reconnect Rochester believes this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our community to get mass transportation right. We all have a stake in the success of our public transportation system and it is critical that RGRTA and its project team have access to thoughts and ideas from every demographic and every corner of our community. To help, we have compiled our ideas and recommendations, and we are asking you all to do the same.

But first, we need to understand how we got here.

Rochester’s public transportation network was originally designed to carry people between downtown and densely populated surrounding neighborhoods. As our residential population, commerce, and jobs spread outward with the adoption of the automobile, RGRTA attempted to follow this migration by extending service outward. With lower population densities in the suburbs, the stretched transit company found itself facing an impossible choice: expand service to reach fewer customers, or maintain its existing service area for a dwindling urban population.

After decades of attempting to do both, the quality of service in Monroe County has suffered. Those who rely on transit are underserved, and those who might choose to ride rather than drive do not. We hear complaints from riders about infrequent service, long trip times, perceived safety issues, and the need to walk great distances to reach their bus stop or final destination. Clearly, we need systemic changes to improve service and increase the viability of our public transit network.

RGRTA recognizes these issues and is now taking a bold step to design “a new transit system from the ground up.”

Our Top 5 Recommendations to Make Rochester Transit Great (again)

Reconnect Rochester has surveyed its members on how to improve Rochester’s public transit system to serve the greatest number of people. Our recommendations are prioritized below.

1. Make service more frequent and consistent.

Reimagine RTS

Current routes and schedules are too complex and inconsistent. To build confidence and make people believe they will have a ride available when they need it:

  1. Vehicles should run every 30 minutes or less throughout the entire system.
  2. Vehicles should run every 15 minutes or less on key routes during peak hours.
  3. Routes, schedules and frequencies should be consistent throughout the weekday and on weekends.
  4. Vehicles should depart from the terminal on time.
  5. Even spacing should be maintained between buses.
  6. The number and placement of new bus stops should follow the recommendations outlined previously in the RTS Bus Stop Optimization Study (2014) to strike a balance between pedestrian accessibility and system performance.
  7. Outlying routes or segments that cannot support 30 minute frequency (either with ridership or private sector funding) may need to be eliminated, or serious consideration should be given to servicing these areas by other means.

2. Make routes more direct.

Bus Rapid Transit

Many routes currently have unnecessary turns and deviations, meaning most trips take much longer than they should. The current hub and spoke layout also makes it difficult to transfer between routes without going downtown. To improve efficiency and provide the fastest possible trip time:

  1. Routes should be designed to take the most direct path between major destinations. Twists, turns and “zig-zags” should be eliminated.
    • Buses should not run into and through office complexes and strip mall parking lots. Instead, municipalities need to work to make sure transit access is provided by direct and convenient pedestrian access through a site to the edge of the public right of way.
  2. It should be possible to switch (or transfer) between routes from any point in the network.
    • Adjacent routes should be placed within walking distance from each other and service staggered to make it easier for riders to switch from one bus to another on a nearby route.
    • Provisions should be made for other modes of travel at major bus stops or satellite hubs (i.e., ridesharing and bike share stations, safe and accessible pedestrian infrastructure, information/signage, etc.).
  3. It should be possible to travel between the county’s four quadrants without transferring downtown.
    • Crosstown or orbital routes should be added near the perimeter of the city where radial routes diverge.
    • Work with other transit providers to make existing crosstown routes (e.g., U of R’s Orange Line) available for riders.
  4. Work with the City and DOT to design streets that prioritize transit (as well as pedestrians and cyclists) over private motor vehicles.
    • Install curb extensions at transit stops (as opposed to curb cutouts) to eliminate time spent weaving in and out of traffic.
    • Optimize traffic signals to improve reliability by allowing buses to maintain a constant speed, and reducing time spent at red lights.
    • Utilize dedicated lanes to move buses more quickly through crowded streets.

3. Right-size the service.

Comfortable Bus

Many routes receive high ridership near the core of the network, resulting in overcrowded, slow moving buses there and nearly empty buses for the remainder of the routes. To relieve overcrowding and improve service in high demand areas:

  1. Some routes may require express and local access service.
  2. Consider eliminating outlying routes or segments where demand is low.
  3. Vehicles should be selected according to demand.
    • Heavily used routes within the core of Monroe County should be serviced by 40’ or larger vehicles, while lesser used routes could be serviced by vans or other systems altogether (i.e., ride-sharing).
  4. Where necessary, transit vehicles should be outfitted to accommodate more bicycles.

4. Make transit accessible and easy to use.

Bus Stop with real-time information

In recent years RGRTA has added several systems and technologies that have made it easier and more enjoyable to use transit. These include the fully enclosed RTS Transit Center, fare kiosks, Tap & Go fare cards, digital signage, and a mobile trip planning app. The following recommendations would make RTS even easier to use and more welcoming to new customers:

  1. Improve integration with other modes and transit systems.
    • Institute an integrated payment solution so that one “currency” can be used across a variety of transportation systems (i.e., one stored-value pass to pay for bus fare, rideshare, taxi, or bike share that could be replenished online or at a kiosk).
    • Include data from other transportation companies within the RTS mobile app.
    • Share data and synchronize service between other transit providers such as college bus systems, Amtrak, and intercity buses.
  2. Work with municipal staff and land use boards in development review and site design. Employment locations, services, retail, and higher density residential development should occur within a half mile of transit corridors. The details of site design such as building placement and internal pedestrian circulation networks are critical in supporting transit.
    • A dynamic transit frequency map should be published for municipalities to evaluate whether transit is a realistic mobility option for a given development or not. There’s a huge difference in a site served by buses every 2 hours versus one served by buses every 20 minutes. Frequency information is not captured on a typical system route map (see for example these maps by Reconnect Rochester and this article by Jarrett Walker).
  3. School routes (currently designated with an X) should not add complexity to the published schedules.
  4. Provide basic amenities for transit riders at all bus stops.
    • Safe and accessible sidewalk connection from curb pick-up
    • Route map and information
    • Seating
  5. Provide enhanced amenities for transit riders at heavily used stops and hubs.
    • Shelter
    • Trash receptacle
    • Bike rack
    • Heat
    • WiFi
  6. Work with municipalities to enact a maintenance plan for all bus stops.
    • Trash pickup
    • Snow removal
    • Accountability
  7. Provide riders with real-time information
    • Countdown clocks with real-time information should be installed at all major transit stops and hubs (i.e., URMC, colleges, Airport, Rochester Intermodal Station, Irondequoit Plaza, etc.).
    • Work with municipalities and property owners to display real-time information screens at highly visible locations such as schools, shopping centers, arenas, office and apartment buildings (i.e., TransitScreen).
  8. Provide additional off-board and cash-free fare payment methods (i.e., kiosks at major transit stops where passengers can buy Tap & Go cards, mobile ticketing via the RTS app or a 3rd party app such as Token Transit, etc.).
  9. Explore ways to allow boarding at both front and rear doors.

5. Stay competitive through innovation.

RTS Streetcar

A business succeeds by staying ahead of the competition. Beyond the recommendations outlined in sections 1-4, it will be imperative for RTS to:

  1. Continually monitor customer needs and local market conditions in order to identify areas for improvement, industry trends and opportunities to attract new customers.
    • Offer classes or seminars on “how to ride the bus.” Many people are reluctant to try the bus, in part, because they are unfamiliar with it.
    • Have a bike rack mock-up device so people can practice loading a bike into the rack without the pressure of a bus full of people watching.
  2. Expand offerings by studying the feasibility of new systems and upgrades such as:
    • Fixed guideway and/or bus rapid transit on core routes
    • Smaller self-driving vehicles for local or on-demand service
  3. Work with the City and County to manage land use in a way that complements service patterns. Future service can then be planned based on land use decisions.
  4. Work with municipalities, key neighborhood groups, and large employers to establish Transportation Demand Management entities and co-promote public transit as a solution to congestion and costly parking.
  5. Step up marketing efforts and always maintain a fresh image reflecting the unique selling points of RTS.
    • Develop example language/assistance for municipalities, event planners, retailers, employers etc. that highlight the ability to use transit to access the event. Too often events or meeting notices provide parking information without information about public transit. Rochester International Jazz Festival does a good job of this.

Share Your Suggestions

We hope our suggestions will give you a framework from which to craft your own thoughts for RTS. Please feel free to steal our list straight away. Or if you have ideas not mentioned above, we’d love to hear them in the comments section below.

We also urge you to attend the first public meeting for this project on October 25th from 6:00-7:30PM at the Brockport Metro Center. And don’t forget to visit www.myRTS.com/reimagine to submit your comments and stay updated on this important project over the next 12 months.

No Comments

Local Attractions offering ROC Transit Day deals, this Friday!

ROC Transit Day

Several local attractions are offering discounted admission this Friday, June 16, to celebrate ROC Transit Day.

In years past Reconnect Rochester has organized the event, aimed at encouraging Rochesterians to leave their cars and instead use public transit for their daily travels. While we have no big festivities planned for this year, you can still participate in the “car-free holiday”. Simply leave your car at home this Friday, ride the bus, walk, bike, enjoy the fresh air – and wish your friends a “Happy ROC Transit Day!”

You can also take advantage of several great deals being offered at local attractions when you show your RTS bus pass (plan your trip using Google Transit or the RTS mobile app)…

Show your RTS fare card at these participating locations, Friday (6/16):

ARTISANworks
$2 off admission
Route 48 University – bus stop at Blossom and University

George Eastman Museum
$5 off general admission, $3 off for seniors, $1 off for students, $2 off for Dryden admission
Route 57 East Ave.

Memorial Art Gallery
$1 off admission
Route 48 University

National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House

$5 off admission
Route 25 Thurston/MCC – bus stop at Main and Madison

Seneca Park Zoo

$1 off admission for bus riders who show their bus pass when purchasing a ticket
Route 35 St. Paul

Show your support for public transit and a healthier community. Ditch your car this Friday, and use #RocTransitDay to tell the world why you participate in ROC Transit Day!

 


No Comments

Rochester Street Films 2017

Rochester Street Films 2017

We are all very busy. Our days are filled with places we need to go, people we need to see, things we need to do. Almost like a movie, we bounce between different scenes of our daily lives. But unlike a movie, we can’t simply edit out all of the time in between those scenes. We don’t think much about our time in transit. But the way we use that time may say a lot about who we are.

Are you the type of person who takes time to enjoy the journey? Or is the journey something you’d rather fast forward through?

What if you could bring a film crew with you on your commute to work? What if a camera man followed you on a trip to the grocery store, or to pick up your kids at school? What might we learn by watching that movie? Would it be something you’d want to share with your friends on Facebook? Or would it make better material for an upsetting Michael Moore documentary?

That was the idea behind the latest installment of Rochester Street Films. We asked local filmmakers and ordinary citizens to share their perspective on what it’s like to get around Rochester without a car. No rules; No restrictions; No filter.

Last night 200+ people gathered at The Little Theatre for the kickoff of Rochester Street Films 2017 season. Over the next few weeks we’ll share those films with you here.

And we’d like to ask for your help getting these films in front of as many people as we can. If you would like to host a mini screening of Rochester Street Films in your neighborhood, please contact us.

No Comments

Bikes vs. Cars : 6:30pm, Wednesday at The Little

Bikes vs. Cars

Bikes vs Cars premiers in Rochester this Wednesday kicking off a full line-up of events for Rochester Bike Week 2016. Starting as a Kickstarter project in September 2013, this much anticipated film tells of the modern bike revolution in cities across the world.

Reserve your seat with a donation in any amount (either online or at the door) and you’ll also be entered into a raffle to win a $25 gift card for Abundance Food Co-op or Towner’s Bike Shop, OR a $20 gift card for Harts Local Grocers!

Read more

No Comments

Long Range Transportation Plan 2040

Genesee Transportation Council is asking for feedback on their Long Range Transportation Plan for the Genesee-Finger Lakes Region 2040 (LRTP 2040).
Posted by: Daniel Speciale, volunteer with Reconnect Rochester.
The Genesee Transportation Council (GTC) is asking for public input on their Long Range Transportation Plan for the Genesee-Finger Lakes Region 2040 (LRTP 2040). The LRTP identifies the direction for the region’s transportation system and serves as the framework for future investment in highways, bridges, public transportation, bicycle and pedestrian projects over the next 25 years. The LRTP 2040 Public Review Document external link provides an introduction to the LRTP 2040 planning processes, a summary of customer engagement feedback, a financial analysis with revenues and costs, and draft recommendations based on regional needs and customer feedback. Here’s a summary of the document…

Read more

No Comments

“Gridlock” Sam Schwartz coming to Rochester, February 24

On Wednesday, February 24, Reconnect Rochester will bring transportation expert Samuel Schwartz to Rochester.
Posted by: Mike Governale, president and co-founder of Reconnect Rochester

On Wednesday, February 24, Reconnect Rochester will bring Samuel Schwartz to Rochester. Sam is the former traffic commissioner for New York City and the man who literally invented the word “Gridlock.”

Gridlock Sam is one of the leading transportation experts in the United States today. He is currently a columnist at the New York Daily News. And his firm, Sam Schwartz Engineering, has recently produced a plan external link for the redesign of East Main Street here in Rochester…

Read more

No Comments

Snow Down on North Clinton!

Join the volunteers at Reconnect Rochester and Flower City AmeriCorps for The Great Rochester Snow Down.
Posted by: Mike Governale, president and co-founder of Reconnect Rochester

Volunteers from Reconnect Rochester and Flower City AmeriCorps are teaming up to clear snow from bus stops and crosswalks in various Rochester neighborhoods this winter. We’re calling it The Great Rochester Snow Down external link and we could use your help on Saturday 1/23…

Read more

No Comments

Grab Your Shovel; The Great Rochester Snow Down Begins

Join the volunteers at Reconnect Rochester and Flower City AmeriCorps for The Great Rochester Snow Down.
Posted by: Mike Governale, president and co-founder of Reconnect Rochester

***
This post is outdated.
Click here for the latest Snow Down information.
***

 

Record cold temperatures and mountains of snow last year made many of our sidewalks and bus stops inaccessible for weeks at a time. This year, before winter tightens its icy grip, Reconnect Rochester would like to invite you to help us defend our streets by taking part in The Great Rochester Snow Down external link.

Every other Saturday from January 9 – March 6, volunteers from Reconnect Rochester and Flower City AmeriCorps will gather together along one major avenue in our area to clear snow from bus stops and crosswalks…

Read more

No Comments

In Case You Missed It: Rochester Street Films

Rochester Street Films at The Little Theatre. Thursday, November 19, 2015.
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…

Read more

No Comments

Rochester Street Films 2015 Kickoff

***
This post is outdated.
Click here for the latest Street Films information.
***

Join us for the very first Rochester Street Films event at The Little Theatre. Thursday, November 19, 2015.

Join us at The Little Theatre on November 19, 2015 for the first ever Rochester Street Films event.

Through short film clips and community discussion moderated by Rachel Barnhart (WROC-TV) we will explore “the future of transportation” in and around Rochester—in particular, walking, biking, & public transit.

We’ll see how cities around the world are implementing smart transportation design and policies to create better places to live, work and play. And we’ll also hear from local experts and everyday Rochesterians about the current and future state of transportation in Monroe County…

Read more

3 Comments

New Bus Routes and Faster Service Planned for Henrietta

New RTS Route 124 from downtown to Marketplace Mall in Henrietta.
Posted by: Jason Partyka, president and co-founder of Reconnect Rochester

RTS customers will soon see improvements and added service to the Henrietta-Jefferson Road corridor in the Town of Henrietta. Existing bus routes being modified are 24/24A Marketplace Mall/East Henrietta and 101 Avon. New routes will be designated 23 Jefferson Rd., 83 Calkins Rd. and 124 Marketplace Limited. The changes are expected to streamline service and provide greater access to key retail, business and residential destinations. Changes will go into effect on Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. RTS has scheduled six information sessions for customers and community residents to learn about the route changes…

Read more

No Comments

ROC Transit Day 2015

ROC Transit Day is next week!

ROC Transit Day is next week – Thursday, June 18. Rochester will be going car-free in support of a healthier community and we’ve lined up a fun day to celebrate… bus rides for you and the family, a street dance competition external link, city-wide treasure hunt external link, music all afternoon outside Rochester Central Library. Oh, and did someone say flash mob external link?

So if you haven’t already, pull together a team of friends or co-workers and hop a bus on June 18. And if you need fare cards, contact us now external link. See the full event schedule…

Read more

No Comments

Art of Conversation

A new Transit Center began operating, demolition began on the old Inner Loop, and a 1000-bike sharing system may soon launch, along with hundreds of other projects in the region. What should we make of them or of others not planned?

In the early days of Reconnect, we shared more ideas, news, and opinion around a table, but nowadays a tight agenda occupies our meetings. Though smaller workgroups have formed, they’re tasked onto specific projects. In so, we miss larger opportunities to connect from wider ideas and to form new ones, and thus #innovate. Salons let us rejuvenate some of this early energy.

Conversations in a salon need not focus on our projects, or projects around the region, nor even transform into action. They may wander onto tangential topics. This keeps the conversation fresh, and also opens the floor to others who might not otherwise participate in monthly salons about transportation or land-use reform.

Salons practice an art of conversation, of listening and sharing ideas. Convened in a space comfortable for ten to twenty, and hosted historically by educated patronesses of a royal court, they’ve taken form this century convened by inspired hosts. Help us revive the form.

* Or use the form directly and you can revise your response later.



8 Comments

Parking Summit This Wednesday

The City of Rochester will hold a public Parking Summit this Wednesday.
Posted by: Mike Governale, president and co-founder of Reconnect Rochester

This Wednesday, 5:30 – 7:00pm at the Penthouse (1 East Avenue – 11th Floor) you are invited to attend a Downtown Parking Summit external link hosted by the City of Rochester. But this is not a meeting to discuss how we create more parking. We’ve tried that before, and it nearly killed our city.

Reconnect Rochester recognizes the importance of having an adequate supply of downtown parking. However, we believe parking should be one component to a much larger, diverse plan to improve access to downtown…

Read more

No Comments

Join Roc Improvement Society & Reconnect Rochester at Scotland Yard Pub (1/27)

Join Roc Improvement Society & Reconnect Rochester at Scotland Yard Pub, Tuesday (1/27) at 6:30pm.
Posted by: Mike Governale, president and co-founder of Reconnect Rochester

On Tuesday, January 27 at 6:30pm, Reconnect Rochester will get together with the Rochester Improvement Society for food, drinks and thoughtful conversation at Scotland Yard Pub. We’d love to see YOU there!

For $5 you’ll get pasta/pizza, a free beer, and entry into an awesome raffle drawing. Raffle prizes include a Hart’s Grocers gift card, a Rochester T-shirt package, framed poster/prints from RochesterSubway.com, and tickets to Landmark Society’s 2015 Inside Downtown Tour. See the prizes here.

You can pay at the door, however, we have less than 50 spots remaining. Order your tickets online now and don’t miss out!

See event details…

21 Comments

RTS Unveils Bus Stop Changes

RTS has announced several changes, including new bus stop signs and route numbers. [IMAGE: Rochester Transit Service]

RTS on Thursday announced several changes to its bus routes and stops. Changes to routes and route numbers will be made in conjunction with the opening of the RTS Transit Center on November 28, 2014. In addition, new bus stop signage will be installed system wide in 2015. Here’s what you’ll need to know…

Read more

No Comments

Dead End: Suburban Sprawl and the Rebirth of American Urbanism

Benjamin Ross event flyer.
On Monday, September 29, Reconnect Rochester will host a discussion with author and transit advocate Benjamin Ross. Mr. Ross will be at the Public Library on Monroe Ave. at 6:30 p.m. to talk about his new book, Dead End: Suburban Sprawl and the Rebirth of American Urbanism external link. Afterwards, follow us across the street to Aladdin’s for more conversation with Ross, and enjoy some free munchies courtesy of Reconnect Rochester. Please join this free event on Facebook external link and bring a friend or two. We hope to see you there!

Read more

1 Comment

ROC Transit Day Reflection: Birding By Bus

ROC Transit Day 2014 gives Rochesterians an excuse for a 'stay-cation'. [PHOTO: Jason & Stefanie Schwingle]
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…

Read more

2 Comments

RTS Will Propose Suburban Park & Ride Route Changes

Park & Changes are coming. [PHOTO: RGRTA]

Customers and community are invited to weigh-in about proposed improvements at Information Sessions and Public Hearing.

RTS is proposing changes to all Suburban Park & Ride routes and is inviting the public to ask questions and provide feedback at two Information Sessions and a Public Hearing…

Read more