Reconnect Rochester presents Voices of Transit, an ethnography profile blog series that along with the qualitative survey data from over 200 RTS customers, shows how our current bus system helps (and sometimes hurts) transit-dependent riders in their daily lives. Read more about the initiative here and to review the survey results from the Transit Ambassador Pilot Program, click here.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and give us an introduction to your transit story.
I’m from Northern Pennsylvania, near Allegheny County. Before moving to Rochester, I lived in Denver for a couple years and was looking to move, and a friend recommended that I move out here, so it’s been about 10 years now.
Tell me more about your experience with riding RTS. Which routes do you ride the most?
I’m car free so getting around Rochester now is better than it was, especially after Reimagine RTS because now buses run at least every hour and there’s more coverage. Before Reimagine, I worked out in Webster and on the weekends I would get on the bus at 6:30 in the morning, work from 10 AM – 6 PM, and when I got off of work I had to walk from my job in Webster to Winton Road which was the closest bus stop.
So it’s a lot easier, but it still has some complications. Now, I work at Eastview and I take the 41, 11L and Victor OnDemand service to get to work. Coming home, I’ll take OnDemand from Eastview to Blossom Loop and then walk 2.5 miles home to Rosewood Terrace. At Blossom Loop, there’s the 9 and 10 which alternate every half hour so I can take that to the 41, but then when I get to Goodman, the 41 at that time starts to come every hour. So at that point, do I wait for a half an hour or do I just walk home?
Tell me more about your experience with OnDemand.
It’s not bad, but it’s tricky to schedule. I have to schedule the night before, but it’s not guaranteed that I’ll get a ride, and it can be frustrating because if you can’t find a ride at the time that you need you have to try and schedule in 15 minute increments until you get a ride.
I think OnDemand to Eastview makes more sense than maybe a fixed route, but they do need more drivers to service that area because the few times when I couldn’t get a ride, I’ve had to walk home from Eastview which was 4.5 hours. The second time, I walked to Pittsford just in time to catch the 11L home.
What’s your experience with bus stop amenities? What would make you more comfortable while you wait?
I get on the 41 at Greeley and Parsells, and there’s a shelter and bus stop cubes, but there’s a lot of stops where there’s nothing there and you just have to stand on the side of the road hoping the weather holds out. I also like that the bus stop cubes make the stop more visible to drivers which is nice.
Is there anything that you would change about the current service? What’s your hope for the future of public transportation in Rochester?
I would like to see the 22L go back running every 15 mins. I also work at the Maplewood YMCA and it was easier to get to and from work when it was every 15 minutes compared to every half hour.
Also, Route 50 is terrible. It runs every two hours. I went for an interview in East Rochester on a cold day and I was stuck standing outside in the cold waiting for the bus. Luckily, my interview ended 15 minutes before the next bus came, otherwise I would’ve been waiting another 2 hours for the next bus. It should run at least every hour, but I understand that there may not be enough riders to support that.
But, things are in a good space and service could be expanded to make it easier for people to access more parts of the city and suburbs.
Anything else you would like to add?
There’s the southern part of Webster all the way down to Henrietta where there’s no service coverage for OnDemand or regular bus service and I think that gap could be filled.