Reconnect Rochester is a non-profit organization I founded a few years ago to advocate for transportation alternatives in Rochester. We work for pedestrian-friendly streets, and we push for improved public transportation. These things are important to me because I’ve seen firsthand what happens to places that focus too much attention on providing spaces for automobiles, and not enough on spaces for people.
If you don’t quite get what I’m talking about, you can listen to me blabber on . But if you’re already with me, please make plans to leave your car at home this Thursday; a day we’re calling “ROC Transit Day”…
For ROC Transit Day 2013 we gave away nearly 1,000 transit fare cards and asked Rochesterians to ditch their cars for one day in support of a healthier community. 30 different forward-thinking organizations (and many intrepid individuals) pledged to ride public transit that day.
The days are getting longer, and (slowly) the air is getting warmer. Soon enough the sweet scent of Lilac will be in the air. This can only mean one thing… ROC Transit Day will soon be here!
If you drive in your car to work alone each day, you’re probably asking yourself, “Why would I want to ride public transit when I can just drive my Nissan Leaf (or whatever)?”
Well, I could list all the reasons why public transportation is healthier for our earth, healthier for our bodies, and healthier for our community. But that would be boring. Instead, watch this video and hear it straight from the mouths of your fellow Rochesterians…
If you’ve been following along, you know how we’ve been trying to apply a little design for the betterment of our transit system. First we took a shot at designing a better bus stop sign for Rochester. RGRTA is currently studying that concept in anticipation of one day replacing their existing signs. Next we designed a better bus pass for which RGRTA gave a nod of approval. The new passes will be rolled out very soon!
But wait, there’s more! RGRTA has now asked for help redesigning one of the most important transit tools of all; their big, bad, bus schedules…
WHOA! Not so fast.
It appears RocSubway jumped the gun and accidentally published some information that wasn’t ready for primetime. New bus schedule designs are being worked on, but it will be some time before they are finalized and ready to be shared. If you caught the sneak peek, congrats. And thanks for providing your feedback!
Can you believe it’s been two years since I tried to redesign Rochester’s bus stop signs? Everyone seemed to agree that a makeover was in order – even the folks at RTS who were nice enough to meet with me. But a year later there had been no serious progress on that front. At which point I turned my attention to something else I thought I could improve on; the fare cards. This time I was able to make some real progress…
Rex the Rhino is planning his bus ride as we speak. Music buskers are tuning up for their performances during the evening rush hour on Main Street. Murphy’s Law on East Avenue is priming the kegs for our happy hour celebration (RSVP here ). And our volunteers are wrapping up HUNDREDS of prizes to deliver to random transit riders.
Get Your Fare Card!
Best of all, we still have 300 limited edition ROC Transit Day fare cards left to give away before the 20th. And we’re making them available to you now – first come first serve. Send us your mailing address and let us know how many fare cards you’d like (no more than 5 per person please). Email your request to email@example.com.
We can’t guarantee on time delivery for requests made after Sunday, June 16. So email us now!
A few short weeks ago I told you about ROC Transit Day 2013. The idea is simple… pedestrians make for a vibrant city. The more people Rochester has walking the streets instead of driving, the stronger our community will be; and the stronger our local economy will be. ROC Transit Day is a holiday from our cars. It’s a day to celebrate local businesses. And it’s a day to cast a symbolic vote for a stronger transit system…
If we’re being 100% honest with each other I have to tell you I used to pee myself with fear at the thought of having to ride Rochester’s bus system. Not because the buses are dirty—they’re actually some of the cleanest buses I’ve ever been in. And no, I’m not afraid of the “people” who ride the bus—some my best friends use RTS to get everywhere they go. I’m ashamed to say I used to avoid taking the bus because I couldn’t read those damn bus schedules. Pathetic I know.
Traveling to and from downtown wasn’t the problem. All I had to do was find a bus stop and hop on—it’s a straight shot. But if I had to get anywhere involving a transfer (which, in Rochester, is pretty much everywhere) then I was lost. How in the world would I know which bus to transfer to once I got downtown? And how long would I have to wait? Would it be quicker to walk? How do I know if this is the most direct route? How much time do I have to leave myself to catch the 7 o’clock show at the Little? AAAAAAH! Forget it! I’ll drive.
America seems to have taken a renewed interest in mobility. Maybe due to President Obama’s recent commitment to high speed rail—or perhaps the positive results seen in towns like Portland and Denver have caught our collective attention. Whatever the reason, from the top down, people are rethinking our automobile-oriented culture—and getting excited about the possibilities.
There’s also good reason to focus on transportation as a way of jump-starting economic development. Industry requires access to people. And people need to have easy access to centers of employment. Continually improving access makes further development possible. Interrupting access will have the opposite effect. Likewise, doing nothing or simply maintaining existing infrastructure for an extended period of time will also hinder development.
For 30+ years Rochester has relied on the infrastructure choices it made in the 1950′s, 60′s, and 70′s. At that time we made development choices that encouraged our population to emigrate from the downtown core. We scrapped our extensive streetcar system, choked off downtown with the construction of the inner-loop, and paved super highways to take us from the city to the NY State Thruway and beyond. Since then that’s exactly where our money, our workforce, and our future have gone—down I-490 and out of state.
With the latest wave of federal stimulus , 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 . 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.*
Last week, Senator Chuck Schumer and County Exec. Maggie Brooks announced that the Renaissance Square project will be moving ahead, with or without the performing arts center. $45 million would still need to be raised to build the theater, and at this point it looks like that money would need to be raised entirely with private donations — HIGHLY unlikely. So what exactly are we building? A new bus station (essentially a covered parking lot for buses). New classrooms for Monroe Community College. Oh, and a big grassy area where the performing arts center would have been.
I grew up on the south shore of Long Island — about a half-mile walk from a Long Island Railroad station. As a teenager without a car I could leave my sheltered suburban Cape Cod style house, and in less than an hour be smack dab in the center of Manhattan. Not only that, but for just a dollar extra I could reach just about any corner of New York City’s five bouroughs by hopping on a subway car. Can you imagine if New York City had scrapped it’s subway in favor of a highway?!
After the Erie Canal was rerouted south of downtown Rochester, the Rochester
Industrial & Rapid Transit Railway (the subway) was built in
its place as a link between the five different railroads and interurban trolley
lines that served the Rochester area. As the industrial landscape of Rochester
changed, and highways replaced the railroads, the Rochester subway gradually
became a relic of a bygone era. In 1956 the subway was abandoned and much of
its route was converted into Interstate 490 built to connect Rochester
with the New York State Thruway (I-90). Read more about the history of the Rochester Subway.
RochesterSubway.com exists to help spark
public dialogue around how we can better connect the neighborhoods of Rochester
NY, surrounding communities, and their cultural offerings. Rochesters
future is written in her past. Let's rediscover it.