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A shrink-wrapped bus advertisement on Main Street, Rochester. We asked RTS about these advertisements on behalf of one of our Facebook followers. [PHOTO: Google Maps]
RGRTA holds bi-monthly Town Hall meetings to answer customer questions and comments and to keep the public updated the latest Rochester Transit Service news. Reconnect Rochester tries to send at least one representative to every meeting to take notes and to bring questions from those who can’t make the meeting. Below are the notes from last week’s meeting and answers to two questions raised on our Facebook page, about solutions to overcrowding and shrink-wrapped buses…

RTS Town Hall Meeting Notes

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Overview of Transit Center
Bill Carpenter (CEO, RGRTA) announced that they will break ground on the downtown RTS Transit Center on November 20th.

He then gave an overview of the transit center:

  • The transit center will open Mid 2015
  • There will be room for 26 buses in the transit center. Other buses will line up on Mortimer St. He said that evening lineups currently have 32 buses. So the extra six will be on Mortimer.
  • Ticket vending machines in the station, they will sell all passes including 31 day passes.
  • Electronic displays with real time data for departures.
  • Public Restrooms, including Family Restrooms.
  • An Information Center.
  • On-site security.
  • Bike racks and lockers next door in the Mortimer St. Garage.
  • Large print displays with visual queues.
  • Audio Assistance for the Visually impaired.

Holiday Express Service
Bill announced there will be a Holiday Express Service this year. Buses will go straight from Downtown to the following locations:

  • Marketplace Mall.
  • Greece Ridge Mall.
  • Wal-Mart on Hudson Ave.
  • The buses will leave downtown on the hour 7 days a week.
  • Sunday through Thursday they will run from 10am to 10pm.
  • Saturdays they will run from 8am to 10pm.
  • These routes will start on Monday, November 19th and end on Sunday, January 6th.
  • The buses will not have numbers, they will be labeled Holiday Express [Destination].
  • They will advertise the Express buses on the radio and with ads on buses.
  • The Wal-Mart express will only service 4 stops on Hudson Ave. The other two buses will go straight from Downtown to their destination.
  • Bill said they could not do these express routes all year because of the cost. I asked Crystal Benjamin if the retailers were pitching in on the cost and she said they were not.

The new Lift Line buses have gasoline engines instead of diesel. RTS had to switch to gasoline because they do not make diesel engines for buses that size that meet emission standards. Bill said that the particles that get emitted are too large.

Question 1 (from Kelly Schneider external link via our Facebook page external link):
One thing I would bring up is increasing ridership. While it’s an awesome thing, busses are getting a bit overcrowded. I’d like to suggest adding more busses per route so ease bus congestion. Perhaps one bus that leaves downtown but doesn’t pick up passengers past a certain point. Just a drop off bus.

RGRTA ANSWER: We do this all the time. Once a bus is full the operator can call radio control and request a fill in bus, or if we know it’s a heavy line, we will augment the line with additional buses inbound. For chronically overloaded routes (we monitor this weekly with our automatic boarding counters by line/block/segment), we usually change equipment (from a 40’ bus to a 60’ bus) or adjust the headway (time between buses) to be more frequent (the net effect of which is “adding buses”), which takes a while because we only change schedules once per quarter. Now, we only have so many buses. So sometimes we run out of buses in our fleet. So there are periods were we have to “live through” some pain until we can procure new buses or adjust fleet composition as its applied to our current route structure (take one bus off a light line and move it to augment a heavy line).

Question 2 (from Jim Mayer external link via our Facebook page external link):
I would love to see an end to the shrink wrapped advertisements. I take the bus from Rundel to Webster three times a week and when I get a wrapped bus it gets really claustrophobic, particularly when the wrapping is light colored.

RGRTA ANSWER: These wraps are only on a fraction of our buses. We have a contract for advertising which provides revenue. If we stopped doing wraps on the buses, then we would have to reduce service to make up the loss of revenue. As you may know, it costs us $4+ per boarding and we only collect $1. And other sources of aid to make up that $3 shortfall per boarding are shrinking. We do work to find ways to make the wrapped buses more transparent, and also we’ve worked to adjust the fleet so that wrapped buses are not used at night as much as possible.

Next Meeting
Join the Facebook event… external link
Friday, January 11, 2013
11:45am – 1:00pm
Irondequoit Public Library at 2180 E. Ridge Rd.

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