The following is a guest post submitted anonymously with additional photos by Mike Governale
I was near the airport when Vice President Biden’s plane came in a few weeks ago. Held up by a road block, I happened to find myself near a junk yard full of old RTS buses. I knew traffic wouldn’t be moving for a while so I pulled over and got out to take a closer look. It was little bus graveyard…
Welcome back, readers – it’s been a while! But now that summer is drawing to a close, and we’re starting to stock up for the long winter ahead (wouldn’t want to be THIS guy ), it’s time to start Filling In again. For our first discussion, let’s revisit Aldi. When we last wrote about it, Mike was advocating for getting good design, and I was putting forward a couple ideas about how the store might improve its relationship with the neighborhood . “Fine,” you say, “where is this going?” Well I’m glad you asked.
Next month Rochester’s transportation authority, Regional Transit Service (RTS) will open a new $50 million transit center at Mortimer Street in downtown Rochester. According to a D&C story RTS has requested that the City change the name of Mortimer Street to “RTS Way.” Mortimer Street has quietly existed between N. Clinton Ave and Saint Paul Street since Rochesterville was incorporated in 1817.
I’ve spent the last five years of my life advocating for Rochester’s public transit system and building a good working relationship with folks at RTS. That’s why I know they will take what I’m about to say as constructive criticism, and nothing more. Here it goes:
Renaming Mortimer Street after yourself is a bad idea. Don’t do it!! Now, let me explain…
Many transit loving Rochesterians, put off by the RTS “hub and spoke” system, have long clamored for the convenience of crosstown routes. The new Route 52 answered those calls by connecting the Park Ave neighborhood with the University of Rochester Medical Center (via Goodman and Elmwood) without having to stop and transfer downtown. The new route had many of us excited .
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…
In 2012 we were surprised to learn that RGRTA had dug up the foundation of the RKO Palace Theater while excavating for the new transit terminal. This week, Jim Memmott reported on some more fantastic treasures that were unearthed at the same site. Some time last year seven heavy stones (some weighing a ton) were pulled up from depths of up to 30 feet below street level. Each stone bore a symbol of the Freemasons…
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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…
A year and half ago I managed to convince RGRTA to try something new. I said, “let me give away free bus rides for one day.” I imagined most people would say “no thanks, the bus isn’t for me.” But I also knew my mom was right when she said, “try it, you might like it.” That year I think maybe 200 people participated and left their cars at home for the day.
What began as a fun little experiment, has turned into ROC Transit Day – a full blown Rochester holiday from our cars. This year ROC Transit Day will be on Thursday, June 20.
In this, its second year, the volunteers at Reconnect Rochester are giving away 1,000 special edition RTS fare cards – designed by yours truly. And we’re asking Rochester’s business community to get involved too…
Sorry it’s been so quiet in the subway for the past week. It got crazy busy with many things happening on many different fronts, and I had to force myself into a self-imposed digital detox program. But here’s a quicky update…
I just got back from the Genesee-Finger Lakes Active Transportation Summit; a conference (held in downtown Rochester) where mobs of cycling and transit advocates gathered for a day of discussion about moving Rochester forward… literally. Believe me, Spiderman isn’t the only one sporting the spandex lately. There’s an undeniable groundswell of support for walkable, bike-friendly streets, and transit options in this town. Maybe you were following the tweets coming out of Reconnect Rochester throughout the day? But if you were at the conference, you understand what I mean. The excitement was palpable, and contagious.
In case you haven’t heard, plans for a transit center at University of Rochester’s College Town have been scrapped. The project is set to receive $20 Million in public loans but the D&C reported that plans for an enclosed transit center—which would have had 10 to 12 bus bays—no longer fits the developers’ needs.
There are few places Rochesterians talk about with such fondness as the old RKO Palace Theater that once stood on Clinton Avenue. Looking at old pictures, I can see why. The place was all dressed up and sparkled inside and out like a glitzy Vegas showgirl. But like many of Rochester’s brick and mortar beauties, she grew old, was chopped up into little pieces, and buried where she stood. All in the name of “urban renewal.” Fast forward fifty years. RGRTA breaks ground on a new bus terminal. And guess what shows up? That’s right – the skeleton of Rochester’s most beautiful movie theater…
The City of Rochester has contracted with Laberge Group of Albany, New York to determine the feasibility of converting the one-way street couplets of St. Paul Street/South Avenue and North/South Clinton Avenue between Byron Street and Cumberland Street to two-way traffic to improve neighborhood accessibility and walkability. Key considerations are expected to include impacts to traffic congestion, safety, parking, bicyclists, pedestrians, transit, and service provision.
On Thursday, June 16 Reconnect Rochester and the people of Rochester NY, will join the rest of the country for National Dump the Pump Day. We will leave our cars in the driveway and instead use public transit. Share this on Facebook and let your family, friends, co-workers, and employers know.
While visiting Seattle a few years ago something occurred to me. Here I was on the other side of the country in a city I had never been to before in my life, and I was navigating their bus system like seasoned Seattleite. There were no fancy digital real-time signs, I had no smart phone, no GPS anything… I didn’t even have a printed schedule. I didn’t need any of those things because I had this…
I just read an article in Sunday’s Albany Times Union that has me scratching my head. Mark Aesch, CEO of the Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority, wants to consolidate the four big transit authorities of upstate New York—Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo. On the surface it seems to make sense. They each do the same thing in relatively similar cities in a single state. But does Aesch really believe consolidating operations across a 250 mile wide region will lead to better public transit service for all four regions? Or are we witnessing the beginning of a power grab?
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.