Moments ago RGRTA announced plans to study sweeping changes to the RTS (Monroe County) transit system. The effort is being called Reimagine RTS and the goal is to develop a set of recommendations to address the community’s mobility needs, increase transit ridership, and position RTS for long-term financial sustainability.

Through an RFP process that began last spring, RTS has engaged the services of Transportation Management & Design, Inc., a transit planning firm based in Carlsbad, CA and Highland Planning (of Rochester) to assist with technical analysis and community engagement.

RTS Transit CenterIn its Request For Proposal RGRTA said the overall purpose of this study will be “to take a fresh look at the RTS Monroe service area, given our existing transit facilities and level of financial resources, and design a new transit system from the ground up with a ‘blank slate’ approach.”

The transit company further explained the need for this reimagining in a statement issued to Reconnect Rochester and other community stakeholders:

The public transit system in Monroe County was designed more than 40 years ago when downtown Rochester was the center of our community from every perspective ‒ economically, residentially and culturally. Since then, the demographics of our area have changed, the location of employment centers has changed, and the number of available mobility options has changed.

Demands from senior citizens, millennials, individuals with disabilities, and those working to escape poverty continue to grow. More businesses are locating to areas of our region that we do not serve well, if at all. And with the emergence of new transportation options such as bike sharing, car sharing, ride sharing and vanpools, it is no longer the case that public transit and the automobile are the community’s only options to reach their destinations. This has created a new reality for public transit that we cannot ignore.

RTS Transit Center

Reconnect Rochester believes this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our community to get mass transportation right. It is critical that RGRTA and its project team have access to thoughts and ideas from every demographic and from every corner of our community.

To help in this endeavor we have compiled our own suggestions for RTS to consider, and we encourage you to do the same. In a nutshell, our recommendations are centered around four basic principles…

1. Make service more frequent and consistent
2. Make routes more direct
3. Right-size the service
4. Make transit accessible and easy to use

Next week we will publish our full list of recommendations here for you to read. But in the meantime, we strongly urge you to visit www.myRTS.com/reimagine for more information on this super important project, and sign up for updates.

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments below.


  1. ReconnectRochester has been an invaluable resource in my 4 years of riding RTS. I’m really excited to see what you’re going to suggest to them. Can’t wait till RTS posts their surveys and I can weigh in!

  2. I’m encouraged to see RTS making an effort to reinvent itself. If RTS truly wants to be a regional PUBLIC transit service, it should prioritize re-branding as a service that is valuable to and accessible by ALL ages, ethnicities, addresses, and income brackets. As it currently functions, the perception of public transit in this region is that it’s only for the urban poor. Further, RTS needs to work on ease-of-use. Newcomers to the region struggle to figure out the system, signage, and schedules. Students at the outlying universities, especially those who come from bigger cities in the US and abroad where they are accustomed to high level of service in their hometown public transit systems, are stunned to find out how inconvenient and inefficient RTS service is around here. Last (for now), for potential riders outside the borders of the city proper who want to go anywhere but downtown, RTS needs to reconsider routes. No one has 90 minutes in each direction to give up for a daily commute that by private car takes only 12 minutes. There is absolutely no incentive to use public transit when the network is almost exclusively hub-and-spoke.

    I could go on…but I’ll wait til the surveys come out. Thank you, Reconnect Rochester, for keeping the community in the loop!

  3. While the subway from the library on north is no longer viable, it deserves a second look now considering the neighborhoods it used to go through.
    Light rail transit would be a good options especially running from RIT to downtown with east/west bus connections. And could be a major stop at U of R with branches from there.

  4. Don’t forget that RCSD relies on RTS for transporting our students. I hope that the new plan will remedy the biologically inappropriate early school start times that have been imposed on our children by RTS.

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