This snow storm kept people off the highways and local roads, it grounded planes at the airport, and it stopped all Greyhound buses from coming Upstate, but Amtrak kept its schedule just fine.
Trains can handle snow. Their steel wheels cut through ice and slush, so trains can keep chugging even when winter weather makes cars, trucks, and buses useless. Back in November 2014 when Buffalo got 5 feet of snow in 3 days, almost nobody could get anywhere, but the Metro Light Rail—”old reliable”—ran on schedule.
Syracuse would handle winter better with if it had more trains. When snow blocks roads, people could still get where they’re going safely without having to dig their car out or crawl along slick roads with their hazards blinking. While buses have to detour around steep hills, and they often get stuck when people park on both sides of the street, trains can keep running on a level unobstructed right of way in all but the worst snow storms.
New passenger rail service could take many different forms, from a single local line, to a metro system, to a regional intercity service, to nationwide high-speed rail. Anything, though, is better than what Syracuse has now—near total reliance on rubber tires in a part of the country where the weather reliably renders them useless for several months a year. Trains can do better.