The Recipe for BRT

The recipe for good public transportation is simple: (1) run lots of buses (2) in straight lines (3) that connect lots of people (4) to the places where they want to go. Do that, and people will ride.

The Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council followed that recipe when it designed two new crosstown bus rapid transit lines (BRT) for Centro. One will run from Eastwood to OCC, and the other will run from Syracuse University to the Regional Transportation Center. Together, these two lines will make Centro much more useful to many more people, and they’ll make Syracuse a better City.

Run lots of buses…

When the bus runs every fifteen minutes, you always know that you won’t have to wait very long for the next one to show up. That’s incredibly freeing because it means you don’t have plan your day around the bus schedule. You can leave the house when you want, and you can head back home when you want. No more worrying about catching the one single bus that can get you where you’re going on time.

Centro’s new BRT lines will run every fifteen minutes minutes all day. It will be a huge improvement over Centro’s current service, and it will make the bus useful for people making all kinds of different trips at all hours of the day.

In Albany, the next Red Line bus is never more than 15 minutes away

…in straight lines…

A straight line is the shortest distance between two points. Buses that travel in straight lines get you where you’re going faster. There’s no need to zig and zag your way across the entire City when you’re just trying to get home.

And speaking of speed, BRT lines in other cities use a few more tricks to make their buses go faster: smart traffic lights, bus lanes, level boarding platforms, fewer stops.

All of this is on the table in Syracuse. The more high-tech options—like integrating the buses with City Hall’s streetlight network—will be a big win for the Syracuse Surge. But it’s the low-tech stuff—running straight down James Street without detouring onto Teall, stopping every ¼ mile instead of every block—that will really make these buses go fast.


…that connect lots of people…

If people are willing to walk about 10 minutes to catch the bus, then the number of people who can ride the bus depends on how many people live within a 10 minute walk of a bus stop. In neighborhoods where lots of people live near a bus stop, lots of people ride the bus.

Eastwood, the Northside, University Hill, the Southside—these are some of the most populous neighborhoods between Buffalo and New York City. Centro’s new BRT lines will be accessible to tens of thousands of Central New Yorkers, just a short walk from their front doors.

…to the places where they want to go

People get on the bus to go places. Good bus service has to pass the places that people actually want to go. It also has to serve a variety of different kinds of destinations if it’s going to attract a variety of riders over the course of the entire day.

There are plenty of places worth going in Syracuse, and these new BRT lines hit a lot of them. Whether it’s to get to one of the 50,000 jobs Downtown, at the Mall, or on University Hill, to get to class at OCC or SUNY ESF, to meet someone for drinks Downtown or on North Salina, to buy fresh food at Price Rite or the Farmers Market, to get to church or to see friends or family anywhere in the City, there will be plenty of reasons for people to ride these BRT lines.

This is a good plan to bring better bus service to Syracuse. It will serve a lot of people. It will get people through the City fast. It will take people to the places they need to go. It will make more opportunities more accessible to more people.