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When it comes to jobs, location matters.

Poverty, Jobs, and Location Posted by: DeWain Feller, Vice President at Reconnect Rochester

Recent articles have highlighted Rochester’s dependency on parking, and have illustrated how our over-reliance on parking is limiting downtown development.  This is in turn limiting how many jobs can be located in the city, and many people are beginning to make the connections between the location of jobs, access to jobs, and our debilitating poverty problem. 

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What’s the frequency, RTS?

How would the RTS coverage map look if we considered the actual frequency of bus service. [IMAGE: Regional Transit Service]
Posted by: Mike Governale, president and co-founder of Reconnect Rochester

The map above shows Rochester’s public transit network. Looks impressive with all of its lines stretching out across Monroe County. From Webster to Chili; Greece to Penfield; there’s a bus or two to get you there. On the other hand, if our transit network were really as good as it looks on this map, why are less than 2% of all trips in Rochester made using public transit?

Hmmm… Maybe because parking is cheaper than air here in Rochester?

Well, yes. But also, this map might be overstating the effective reach of RTS. Remember, a transit system is only good if it’s there when you need it…

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Help needed this week on restoring the transit commuter benefit

Your help is needed this week on restoring the transit commuter benefit.
Via: National Alliance of Public Transportation Advocates (NAPTA)

The Commuter Tax Benefit program allows commuters the opportunity to pay for a portion of their commuting expenses with pre-tax dollars. As of January 2014, federal tax law allows commuters to set aside $250 for qualified parking expenses (an increase over the previous year). But workers who use public transit saw their monthly limit shrink from $245 to $130 per month.

This imbalance in the tax code means that transit users could pay as much as $565 in higher taxes annually, while creating a perverse favoritism in the tax code for automobile commuters. As fellow transit advocates, we need you to email your Members of Congress external link and ask that this commuter tax imbalance be fixed…

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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…

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Route 52 – RTS’ New Crosstown Connection

Give the new RTS route 52 a try...
Immediately after Labor Day, RGRTA CEO Bill Carpenter was on hand for the inaugural voyage of the newest addition to RTS’ stable of bus routes. A route planned with the University of Rochester Medical Center’s parking situation in mind, Route 52 crosses through the heart of the vibrant Monroe and Park Avenue communities before terminating at the brand new East Avenue Wegman’s store.

This new alignment, which follows a rigid 30 minute departure schedule external link from 6-10AM and 2:30-7PM (with a single midday trip), has had us at Reconnect excited for some time. We’ve finally crunched the numbers to bring the public an idea of just how much this development is enhancing service…

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A Better Bus Schedule for Rochester

RGRTA has asked for help redesigning one of their most important transit tools. Meet the new RTS bus schedules.

If you’ve been following along, you know RTS has been trying to apply a little design for the betterment of our transit system. RGRTA is currently studying the idea of new bus stop signs. And they’ve already introduced a better bus pass.

But wait, there’s more! RGRTA recently asked for our help redesigning one of the most important transit tools of all; those big, bad, bus schedules…

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ROC Transit Day 2013 Photos!

Photos from ROC Transit Day 2013 [PHOTO: RocPX.com]
The numbers are in, and out of 950 free fare cards we gave out, 172 were used. That may not seem like a big number, but to us it represents 172 new transit users, on top of tens of thousands of Rochesterians who already choose to go car-free every day. Of course, we think Rochester can do better. And now we’ve got a number to beat next year.a

If you were one of those people who participated, thank you! We can’t explain how much fun we had. You’ll just have to check out the photos below. Special thanks goes to Rick U. at RocPX.com, all our sponsors and volunteers external link and all the people who sent in pics from their ROC Transit Day adventures…

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Transportation Choices and the Impact on Our Community

Posted by: Mike Governale

Mike Governale at TEDxRochester. Mike is a designer, blogger, and founder of a local public transit advocacy group, Reconnect Rochester. [PHOTO: Jeffrey Hamson]
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 external link, 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…

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Governor Cuomo Signs “Complete Streets”

Pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders in Rochester (and across New York state) will soon benefit from a new Complete Streets law. Thanks to the volunteers at Reconnect Rochester and outspoken citizens like you! [FLICKR PHOTO: _Yoshi]
Earlier this year, Reconnect Rochester teamed up with Tri-State Transportation Campaignexternal link and other transportation advocacy groups from around New York state in an effort to mobilize support for, and urge Governor Cuomo to sign New York’s first Complete Streets law. Thousands of you and other New Yorkers signed petitions and wrote and called your representatives. It made all the difference, helping to get this issue onto the agendas of elected officials and making sure it passed during a busy legislative session.

Pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders in Rochester (and across New York state) will soon benefit from a new Complete Streets law. Thanks to the volunteers at Reconnect Rochester and outspoken citizens like you! [IMAGE: Reconnect Rochester]Earlier this week Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the billexternal link that will make streets safer for everyone. The law will ensure that major road projects take into account the needs of pedestrians, cyclists, and people of all ages and abilities.

Whether young or old; on foot, in a wheelchair, on a bike, or in a car, everyone is safer when roads are designed so everyone can use them. Roads designed according to complete streets principlesexternal link are safer and encourage walking and cycling, leading to healthier neighborhoods and better quality of life. This is an extremely important reform that will save lives.

Thank YOU for helping to win positive change!

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Mapnificent, Meet Rochester.

Posted by: John Lam

Rochester is now on Mapnificent thanks to Reconnect Rochester!
Scoop one for Reconnect Rochester! Several days ago we noticed Mapnificent.net (a new site for visualizing transit reachability) hadn’t included Rochester among its cities. Clicking into its support forum led me to a post also seeking support for Rochester. A quick search told us our bus company had just announced the public availability of their General Transit Feed Specification, so in response we posted the location of this feed and within an hour Rochester debuted in Mapnificentexternal link.

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Reconnect Rochester Speaks with MCC Faculty

Members of Reconnect Rochester speaking to MCC faculty on the Court Street bridge about Rochester's transit future.
This past weekend the Department of Chemistry and Geosciences at Monroe Community College (MCC) held its annual Professional Development Field trip for faculty members. This year’s theme was “Seeking a Greener Rochester” and Reconnect Rochester was invited to give a brief history lesson on Rochester’s transit history and a perspective on the future.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous this Saturday as we all gathered outside on the Court Street bridge. This was a fitting location as the very spot where the Genesee River, Erie Canal, the old subway, two extinct railroads and Interstate 490 all meet. And the story we told went something like this…

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U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Announces $293 Million for New Transit Solutions, Economic Development Nationwide

Project Selections Will Expand Obama Administration’s Livability Initiative Agenda, Fuel Economic Recovery for Local Communities

The Federal Transit Administration announced Thursday that Charlotte was one of six U.S. cities to get streetcar grants. One-half mile of track is already in place on Elizabeth Avenue near uptown. [PHOTO: TODD SUMLIN - tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com]

A $293 million investment announced today by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood means that residents in dozens of communities nationwide will soon enjoy major transit improvements, including new streetcars, buses, and transit facilities.

The nearly $300 million investment is part of the Obama Administration’s livability initiative to better coordinate transportation, housing and commercial development investments to serve the people living in those communities. It is being made through two competitive grant programs, the Urban Circulator Grant Program and the Bus and Bus Livability Grant Program.

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Beyond the Motor City… In Case You Missed it at the Dryden

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Tonight’s screening of Beyond the Motor City at the Dryden Theater was, in my opinion, a phenomenal event for Rochester. After the film, seven panelists discussed local transportation issues and took questions on the subject from the nearly full audience. Of course, in the allotted timeframe we were only able to scratch the surface, but this is a conversation that we will carry on in the months, and years ahead. If you’re not already, now would be a good time to make sure you’re following Reconnect Rochester on Facebook external link. And, in case you missed tonight’s event, here is Beyond the Motor City in its entirety. Enjoy…

Beyond the Motor City from Film Sprout on Vimeo.

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Beyond the Motor City — at the Dryden Theater, June 28. Bring Your Pals—It’s On Us!







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BLUEPRINT AMERICA: BEYOND THE MOTOR CITY is screening in a handful of cities this May and June. It will screen here in Rochester on June 28, 2010.On Monday June 28 at 7:00pm you are invited to a FREE screening of PBS’s eye-opening film, BLUEPRINT AMERICA: BEYOND THE MOTOR CITY at the Dryden Theater. The documentary is touring cities across America to raise questions—and seek answers—about the future of transportation in America. Can we build the “infrastructure of tomorrow” today? Can the cash-strapped and car-dependent cities of the so-called Rust Belt become new models for fast, clean, public transit? The links and similarities between Rochester NY and Detroit MI are glaringly obvious—and I think you owe it to yourself to see this film.

This FREE public event will come to you 100% FREE of charge thanks to RRCDC external link, Reconnect Rochester external link, Rochester Rail Transit Committee external link, Rochester Trolley & Rail external link, Empire State Future external link, New York Museum of Transportation external link and PBS external link. Immediately following the film a panel consisting of City planners, urban growth experts, bike & transit advocates, and concerned citizens will discuss topics including:

  • New hopes for accessible, clean, and modern mass transit in America
  • The role of cities, and consumers, in shaping the next generation of transportation systems
  • A roadmap for revitalizing the way we move through our cities and neighborhoods

This will surely be a thought-provoking FREE event and a great opportunity for you to take part in a very important FREE conversation for our community. So mark your calendar and bring some friends. Did I mention this is FREE?!

More About the Film:

The latest installment in the BLUEPRINT AMERICA initiative takes viewers on a cinematic journey in search of America’s transportation future. Pictured: A view of downtown Detroit from the top of the run-down Michigan Central Train Station. (Photo Credit: Lloyd Handwerker/WNET.ORG)BLUEPRINT AMERICA: BEYOND THE MOTOR CITY external link examines how Detroit, a grim symbol of America’s diminishing status in the world, may come to represent the future of transportation and progress in America. Narrated by Miles O’Brien, the film explores Detroit’s historic investments in infrastructure—from early 19th- century canals to the urban freeways that gave The Motor City its name and made America’s transportation system the envy of the world.

Correspondent Miles O’Brien says he’s saddened every time he returns to the Motor City and sees “the ruins of a once great city.” Pictured: Michigan Theatre, now a parking garage. (Photo Credit: SNWEB.ORG Photography/Sean Doerr)But over the last 30 years, much of the world has left Detroit—and America—behind, choosing faster, cleaner, more modern transportation. In a journey that takes us into the neighborhoods of Detroit and then beyond to Spain, California, and our nation’s capital, BLUEPRINT AMERICA: BEYOND THE MOTOR CITY urges us to ask how we might finally push America’s transportation system into the 21st century.

Using CGI animation combined with current footage of Detroit, the film brings the vision of the city’s possible transportation future to life. A network of trains within the city center would run along main thoroughfares. (Photo Credit: Lloyd Handwerker and HUSH Studios, Inc.)BLUEPRINT AMERICA: BEYOND THE MOTOR CITY is part of Blueprint America, a national, multi-platform initiative examining the state of America’s transportation infrastructure. Blueprint America was created and produced by Thirteen for WNET.ORG and supported by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Surdna Foundation.

Event Info:

Time: Monday June 28, 2010 at 7:00pm

Location: Dryden Theater (Map it external link)

Cost: FREE – Zero – Zilch – Nada – FREE FREE FREE

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John Robert Smith in Rochester

*Cross Posted by the Moderate Urban Champion

John Robert SmithMembers of Reconnect Rochester had a unique opportunity Monday afternoon.  We were invited to sit in and participate in a roundtable discussion featuring representation of the Genesee Transportation Council, the Empire State Passengers Association, the Rochester Rail Transit Committee, and the keynote speaker of that evening’s lecture, John Robert Smith.

Not all of the biggest statements came from Smith himself, but his insight into federal agencies and funding acquisition from said agencies was very valuable to our coalition. Also heartening was the recognition by all parties of potential energy realities. This acceptance set the imperative tone regarding the necessity for improved transit in the region.

Smith’s greatest criticism, one that was repeated during the public lecture, was a lack of obvious attraction marketing, and the associated transportation options, to downtown hotel guests and travelers who arrive by train. The implication is that we aren’t successfully steering travelers with money to spend to restaurants and other cultural amenities. A set of newer signage as part of an enhanced wayfinder system was installed recently, but it is proving to be geared toward motorized tourist travel.

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Reconnecting America: What Rochester Can Learn from John Robert Smith

John Robert Smith, founder of Reconnecting America, will speak at the Memorial Art Gallery on May 10, 2010.Rochester’s dazzling urbanites, development gurus, transit afficionados, preservation honchos, political luminaries, and architectural stewards are all very pleased that the Rochester Regional Community Design Center’s final lecture of the 2009-2010 season brings John Robert Smith to the Memorial Art Gallery on May 10th at 7PM.  This enthuasism will surely spread like wildfire once the community at large understands what a tremendous impact this man has had in the realms of community revitalization and improving housing and mobility choices for citizens in communities with situations similar to Rochester.

The future of this or any community hinges on the following concepts, all of which are likely to be discussed at the speech and reception:
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Rochester Shows Up

This is the focus area for the Center City Circulator Study.If you were at the Circulator Study Public Meeting tonight, THANK YOU! Turn out was good. It could’ve been even better… but there were plenty of people there asking questions and giving input and the room had a constant buzz. Even the media external link thought enough to make an appearance. There will be another public meeting in June/July to share the preliminary findings of the study so stay tuned and continue to share this story with friends and neighbors. We’ll need even more of you at the next meeting.

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Monday 3/22 4-6pm… Let’s Show Up Rochester!

The City will take questions and input about the Center City Circulator Study this Monday, 3/22 from 4-6pm at the Rochester Public Library. Parking is easy at the attached Court Street Garage.The City has partnered with C&S Companies to analyze and make recommendations to enhance commuting, circulation, and parking in Downtown Rochester. Among the potential enhancements under consideration is a circulator transit service—a.k.a shuttle buses or streetcars. Listen carefully Rochester…

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