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NY High Speed Rail… I’m With Slaughter!

March 10th, 2009

Amtrak's Acela high-speed train which operates between Washington DC and Boston.With the latest wave of federal stimulus external link, suddenly a storm of ideas and proposals are pouring down on downtown. In one corner, Governor David Paterson and Congresswoman Louise Slaughter are reigniting a movement in support of a new high-speed rail line from Niagara Falls to New York City. Slaughter wants to see Renaissance Square funds reallocated toward building a new train/bus station built where the old Amtrak station is now on Central Avenue external link. In the opposite corner, County Exec Maggie Brooks and Senator Charles Schumer are pushing ahead with demolition plans in preparation for Ren Square. Poor Mayor Duffy doesn’t know whether to take sides or run for cover.*

But with $8 billion external link in stimulus money on the table for high speed rail, I’m with Slaughter. Building an intermodal train and bus station at Central Avenue makes way more sense than building a new bus lot at Main and Clinton (part of the Ren Square plan). I know Maggie Brooks has her reasons for defending Ren Square, but hanging a “coming soon” sign View Images isn’t going to hide the glaring defects of this plan.

Here’s why Renaissance Square should be stopped
dead in its tracks (pun intended):

  1. A new intermodal facility at the perimeter of downtown would allow travelers one-stop access to Amtrak, RTS buses, Trailways/Greyhound buses, AND leaves open the possibility of one day connecting these services to the Rochester Airport via light rail.
  2. Amtrak, RTS, Trailways, Greyhound, taxi services, and other retail entities would benefit from being in such close proximity to each other.
  3. The proposed Ren Square bus lot in my opinion is unattractive and still leaves idling buses too close to Main Street. The heart of downtown is no place for a giant parking lot for buses.
  4. After 10-15 years of effort, the Ren Square money is still not there. Maybe the lack of funds is reflective of a lack of public support?
  5. The Renaissance Square location (Main and Clinton) has far too much potential than to be subsidized by government. Private interest has already expressed interest in developing this parcel.
  6. Fear of losing federal money is not a good reason to rush ahead with a half-baked plan. We have options now. We need to stop and think.
  7. I could go on but I feel like I’m beating a horse.

*UPDATE: Mayor Duffy recently spoke out external link and says we should reassess the County’s Ren Square plan.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 10th, 2009 at 11:17 pm and is filed under Opinion, Rochester News, Urban Development. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

6 Responses to “NY High Speed Rail… I’m With Slaughter!”

  1. bizenez says:

    For once, an idea that is actually practical. From the start I thought that creating a bus terminal smack downtown was a huge mistake. It would be much cheaper if we just fixed up and current bus stops, closed them in better and added better heating. Instead of building a useless terminal, how about improving the services. How about less waiting for a bus? How often do you see a bus parked on the side of the road, this is a so called lay over. Not only will the fast rail system encourage more NY’ers to come for business conventions amd stay in the hotels, which they already do, but maybe other improvements to the city will follow. Such as more businesses opening up. I say forget the bus terminal and build the light rail system. Now that’s a great idea that i support 100%

  2. admin says:

    The sad part is, if the wheels weren’t already in motion on Ren Square I think everyone would agree—another bus terminal in the heart of downtown is a ridiculous idea. But because this project has taken so long to get off the ground everyone has their blinders on. Statements like the one Schumer made earlier in the week when he said “we can have both” indicate that he’s missing the point. Just because we can pay for a bus terminal and a separate train station doesn’t mean it makes sense!

  3. bizenez says:

    When I heard about the bus terminal the first thing that came to mind was, another fast ferry and high falls area flop. Go down State street sometime and right by the expressway you will see a huge fancy sign that says, “Welcome to high falls”. What a bold statement and reminder of what a disaster that whole project really was. And the fast ferry, what a joke that was. Now they’re telling us that we need another bus terminal. For what? Will this terminal improve the service? Parking buses inside a giant round terminal will only cause more delays if anything. And like I said in the other post, service is lousy as it is. Look at the schedule and sometimes a bus runs every 40 minutes. Why so long for such a small city and having over 300 drivers and buses. Also RTS and the union hasn’t had a contract for over 2 years due to a lack of agreeing on benefits and pay. If RTS has the money to spend over $30 million on a useless terminal even before it’s built, they could definitely afford to pay to improve the service. It’s like saying, hey everyone it will take three years to build the terminal but when it’s done you can wait longer out in the cold and rain until the bus arrives but don’t worry, when you get downtown and wait inside the new terminal, you will have plenty of time to dry up and get warm. And the great thing is, you can pay for it with your taxes. Thanks Shuman, we greatly appreciate it!

  4. [...] Subway agrees. Robert Duffy (D), the mayor of Rochester, argued in a similar op-ed that he, too, does not like [...]

  5. Larry Keefe says:

    How about getting some other local politicians on board? I have already written to Eric Massa, a detailed proposal for bringing back a region wide light rail system that could connect through the HRS station–I’m still waiting to hear back from him. People should put the pressure on NOW for light rail that connects directly to the new rail system that the Obama administration has proposed–without local connections the trains will just whiz past Rochester with no particular benefit to the region.

  6. Joe D. says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with Larry…HSR in conjunction with light rail would be a good jump start to our flailing economy!

    Cheers!

    Joe


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