If you recall, last fall RTS asked for the community’s help to reimagine our public transit system. Reconnect Rochester shared many of our recommendations and over 11,000 of you participated by sharing your own ideas with RTS via online survey or at one of countless public meetings. Well, today we’re dizzy with excitement as the first “Draft” proposal has finally been revealed…

First, read the draft report here and visit http://reimagine.myrts.com/transit-plan for related documents and an interactive route map. RTS will be taking your comments through the end of June and community input meetings and popup information events are scheduled throughout the month of May. Don’t miss your chance to ask questions and weigh in!

Now, the Details…

As the proposal was just unveiled today, we haven’t had a chance to fully assess. However, at first glance the consultants appear to have addressed MANY of the service improvements we’ve asked for including higher frequency service with greater consistency throughout the day AND on weekends. Those were two of the BIG ones for us, as frequency equals freedom, and consistency means we don’t need to struggle to understand the schedules.

The report also prescribes a menu of capital infrastructure improvements (to be made over time) which should make service even more reliable and comfortable – things like covered transit stops, elevated platforms, signal prioritization and queue jump lanes to move buses more quickly through crowded city streets.

What’s being proposed may not be sunshine and lollipops for everyone. To make these types of service improvements, some people (less than 5% mostly in the suburbs) will lose service. But the end result looks very, very promising for the vast majority of current transit riders and our community on the whole.

Here is a look at the proposed network, and some key points below…

Notable Features:

  • 10 routes will be part of the “Frequent Network” with buses coming every 15 minutes, 6am-6pm on weekdays (30 minute service 5am-6am and 6pm-Midnight). Frequency falls back to 30 minutes on Saturday and Sunday and service will begin 1 hour later. The 10 routes included in the frequent network represent RTS’ highest ridership and most productive routes. This is completely new… currently there are no routes with this level of service. Stops on these routes will be spaced 1/4 to 1/3 mile apart.
  • All other routes (with one or two exceptions) will have 30 minute service on weekdays (60 minute service 5am-6am and 6pm-Midnight). Frequency falls back to 60 minutes for most of these routes on Saturday and Sunday and service will begin 1 hour later. This “Local Service” will connect with and supplement the Frequent Network, filling gaps and extending coverage to areas warranting fixed route service. Stops on these routes will be spaced 1/4 mile apart.
  • All routes have been streamlined to reduce travel times (fewer deviations from the main route).
  • Areas that are not covered by traditional transit service (because there are not enough riders to warrant 40′ buses) will be served by a combination of other services yet to be determined (i.e. shuttles, van pool, car share, bike share, etc.). These areas are being referred to as “Community Mobility Zones” and the idea is that RTS will work with community partners (towns, businesses, institutions, etc.) to set up local transportation hubs. There is currently no plan for funding and details are sketchy at best, but RTS says they will be starting a Mobility Management Program study to figure out how best to structure these programs.
  • There are 2 new crosstown routes (meaning they will bypass the Transit Center) with 30 minute service most of the day:
    • Marketplace Mall to Skyview on the Ridge (aka Irondequoit Mall) via Culver Rd, Parsells Ave, Goodman St, MCC, & East Henrietta Rd.
    • Elmridge Center to Skyview on the Ridge (aka Irondequoit Mall) via Ridge Rd.
  • School routes remain unchanged.

Other Points to Consider:

  • 33% of jobs in Monroe County (109,300) will now be within a 1/2 mile walk of the frequent network (today, there is no frequent network at all).
  • 23% of residents in Monroe County (174,400) will be within a 1/2 mile walk of the frequent network.
  • 64% of existing RTS customers will have access to the frequent network.
  • Less than 5% of existing RTS customers will lose service (most in the suburbs).

What do you think?

Remember to attend one of the input sessions or take the online survey. And please discuss in the comments below. Reconnect Rochester wants to consider your thoughts as we begin to assess the proposal ourselves.


  1. Has there been a discussion on implementing a Light Rail system? One line to run North to South and one running East to West? Infrastructure and funding are two concerning variables for sure but not impossible barriers ✌️

  2. Hi Heather! Reconnect Rochester did mention these types of upgrades in the context of staying innovative (see point 5b here) and so we love your thinking! Light rail and/or other fixed guideway systems are one tool we could use in the future to address certain needs (i.e. meeting higher ridership demands or supporting high-density development along a particular corridor). However, at this point in time we think it’s critical to get the fundamentals right – which is our bus network. There are some good articles out there that explain in more detail the relationship between various modes and how bus and rail can work together… For one, we love Jarrett Walker’s writing on his Human Transit blog.

    Having said that, the City of Rochester IS working simultaneously to identify “transit supportive corridors” that might one day be served by bus rapid transit or light rail. Think of densely populated, mixed-use neighborhoods where parking is a continual problem. So yes, these discussions are happening, but there’s much work to do!

  3. I have mixed feelings about this design. On the one hand, I the move to embrace “ridership
    (as opposed to “coverage”) is a very good thing. At the same time, I feel the design is missing a big opportunity in the south. There are substantial, walkable, communities in the South Wedge, Highland, Sillburg, and Brighton areas that could be connected to downtown, Strong/UofR, and Twelve Corners (the center of Brighton). I look at this design, and really wish for three changes:
    (1) extend the Monroe frequent network route to Twelve Corners.
    (2) make the Mt. Hope line to Strong a frequent route.
    (3) Add a crosstown route on Elmwood between Twelve Corners and Strong/UofR.
    Because the current plan is based on existing ridership, and because RTS bus service, today, is largely used by people with less money, it’s not surprising that the more affluent areas of the city would see less frequent service. I just think it’s a shame. A LOT of people in the South of Rochester and Brighton work at Strong/UofR, and it seems wrong to put in a design that guarantees that the vast majority of them will choose to drive.

    I used to live in Brighton, not far from Twelve Corners, which is the modern-day center of Brighton. The middle and high schools are both there, and it’s surrounded by relatively dense housing. I had kids in both schools, and it was shocking how many of their friends’ parents worked at Strong/UofR.

    One of my daughters used to take the 7 bus all the time. She had music lessons at Eastman, and she and her friends often hung out in the Barnes and Noble and Wegmans at Pittsford Plaza. My stepson went to an after-school sport that met in Genesee Valley Park (and his team, a club sport, used to take the bus to ROC Boxing near Culver and Atlantic, where they used the rowing machines for winter training).

    Because the high school is right at Twelve Corners, I think there’s a real opportunity to educate students about bus service. Many Brighton kids walk to school, and a lot of them stop in at Twelve Corners at the end of the day. I suspect some of this is a legacy of Brigton’s history as a trolley suburb of Rochester, and I’d like to see the redesign take advantage of it.

  4. I am appalled that RIT was completely left out of the new map. I regularly ride the 24, and can characterize the ridership as having two groups: people coming from downtown and going to Marketplace Mall, and RIT students, faculty, and staff getting on along the route and going to RIT. The new plan maintains the service for one group but completely deserts the other. Students are particularly isolated at RIT, and the new plan makes it much worse.

    Related to this, I would suggest using shopping centers as remote hubs for bus routes. A crosstown route that goes from RIT to Marketplace Mall to Pittsford Plaza would not only effectively connect students at RIT to these shopping centers (and the shopping centers to each other) but also students to downtown.

    I don’t think people in the city realize how extraordinarily isolated it is to live or work at RIT, which then deprives the city of business and of future residents (since students don’t know the region well enough to stick around after graduation).

  5. I’m extremely disappointed by the shape of this plan. It shrinks the service area and cuts out massive swaths of the region where residents want to have a viable choice between public transit and a personal vehicle. It’s exactly the opposite of what I heard the community saying in the planning discussions, and it runs counter to the planning being done in several of the suburbs for reducing reliance on automobiles for getting around town. It leaves the colleges out, especially the big three (UR, RIT and MCC), not all of the pubic libraries and schools are served by transit, the airport and train station are not prioritized, it pushes “last mile” service to major employers off to privatized service (and completely ignores the small-scale employers who won’t be reached!), and they’re cutting late night/early morning hours as though work /life schedules can be compressed. Highly disappointing.

  6. I like the idea of improving our transit system because I use it daily. I think the light rail system would definitely work if it went to the airport and back. Getting to the airport is tough.

  7. I am really disappointed with this plan. This cuts off the entire north portion of Irondequoit which has many frequent riders. This would deter anybody from riding the bus and would cause significant financial strain to many families in the area. Irondequoit is extremely close to the city and should maintain their access via RTS. This new plan completely cuts off easy access to the Seabreeze neighborhood, and Ridge Road is not the quickest walk from anywhere north. I’m speaking from just one “suburban” albeit extremely populated area and there are pain points for many other locations but hopefully this is all taken into consideration. (I did already relay all of this on the RTS survey page as well)

  8. I am disappointed that there are literally no routes that go west to Spencerport, Brockport, Clarkson, areas. As an employer with many locations in the these towns we have employment opportunities in these locations but many people do not drive or have access to a reliable vehicle to get to work therefore they end up not working. It would be great to see additional public transportation opportunities for people living in the city to be able to reach these locations.

  9. Bonnie, I think the RTS plan focuses too much on cost savings and frequency of service, and too little on WHY people need to use public transportation in the first place. People need it to access employment, but I see no evidence that they systematically surveyed the geography of employment opportunities. People need it to access shopping centers before or after work or school, but there are no cross town routes connecting shopping centers. People need to access hospitals, car repair places, and other basic functional locations. These don’t seem to be systematically factored in either. And the removal of almost all the local colleges from the plan belies the vitality to the city of having healthy connections with the young and educated. Rochester attracts these people, and then loses them 4 or 5 years later, because they’re so disconnected from the city.

    What the RTS plan appears to be doing is merely trying to more rapidly connect the most current riders with the Transit Center as quickly and cheaply as possible. But nothing is at or near the transit center.

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