• Two ways to do a downtown circulator - Centro’s new CEO, Brain Schultz, wants to start running a “Downtown Circulator.” That could mean two different things—one good, one bad—and what form this plan takes will say a lot about whether or not this new CEO is up to the task of building the kind of public transit system that Syracuse needs and deserves. … Continue reading Two ways to do a downtown circulator
  • Treating riders with respect - Public transportation is a public service—like libraries and municipal water—and riding the bus shouldn’t feel any more degrading than checking out a book or drinking from the tap. Too often, it is. There are so many small things that make riding the bus unpleasant—things that are unnecessary, that don’t really save any money or make … Continue reading Treating riders with respect
  • Who will ride BRT? - Talk to non-bus-riders about Centro, and eventually they’ll say something to the effect of “you know a specific challenge that we have in Syracuse is that bus ridership is associated with socio-economic class, and so the question is how do we get people of all classes to ride the bus. How does Centro get me … Continue reading Who will ride BRT?
  • A Countywide Bike Network - Syracuse is getting a huge improvement to its transportation system. Three interlocking projects pursued by three different levels of government are making it safe, easy, and convenient to travel by bike around the metro area. The Creekwalk, Loop the Lake Trail, and Erie Canalway are fantastic projects that will make Syracuse a better place to … Continue reading A Countywide Bike Network
  • Sidewalks: Necessity or Amenity? - How can City Hall say that it’s preserving municipal services that “impact public health and safety” at the same time that it’s cutting the sidewalk plowing program? On the face of it, this makes absolutely no sense. Leaving snow on the sidewalks pushes pedestrians into the way of oversized vehicles that predictably kill and maim … Continue reading Sidewalks: Necessity or Amenity?
  • Frequency and Speed - In public transportation, service frequency depends on bus speed. The faster buses go, the more times one operator can make a run in a single shift. Since the vast majority of operating cost is taken up by operator salary, that means higher service frequencies for little to no extra money. And since higher frequencies are … Continue reading Frequency and Speed
  • Frequency and Spines - Frequent service frees transit agencies to run better, more efficient networks. Centro’s current network is designed around the lineup—a tool that facilitates transfers in when the buses don’t run very often. But there are other design tools—like the spine—that can turn that infrequent service into the high-frequency, high-quality transit system that Syracuse needs. A spine … Continue reading Frequency and Spines
  • Frequency and the Lineup - Frequent bus service makes more of the City more accessible, but it also saves money. Citywide transit systems only work when people can easily switch between different buses to reach any point in the network, but low-frequency service—like what Centro currently offers—requires enormous inefficiency in order to facilitate transfers. More frequent service can pay for … Continue reading Frequency and the Lineup
  • Frequency and Access - When the people in power think about making opportunity accessible by bus, they focus too much on where the buses run and not enough on when the buses run. Centro runs bus lines to every urbanized part of the County, so just about any factory, school, or home is within walking distance of a bus … Continue reading Frequency and Access
  • 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 … Continue reading The Recipe for BRT
  • Trolley Tracks and Bus Lines - I used to catch the 58 bus at Burnet and Teall. In my head, this was the Burnet Ave bus—Burnet’s a big street, it’s one of the few that stretches from Downtown all the way out to the city line, and the 58 does run straight along its eastern half from Beech Street to Thompson … Continue reading Trolley Tracks and Bus Lines
  • Coronavirus and the Bus - Crises reveal what really matters. Work that used to be forgotten is now understood to be essential. Workers who used to be taken for granted are now recognized as heroes—fighting on the frontlines against this global pandemic—the hospitals, the nursing homes, the garbage routes, the checkout counters. Renewed appreciation for these people and the work … Continue reading Coronavirus and the Bus
  • The Captive Rider Myth - Centro likes to divide its riders into two groups—‘captive’ riders that have to use the bus because it’s their only option, and ‘choice’ that choose to use the bus because it’s the best option available to them. But the idea that anybody has to ride the bus—that people are ‘captive’ to transit—is a myth. It’s … Continue reading The Captive Rider Myth
  • Free to Choose the Bus - People ride Centro when it’s the most practical option for getting where they want to go. Problem is, Centro’s not a very practical option for getting to work in a lot of the County, so a lot of people who don’t own cars miss out on a lot of opportunities for employment. Instead of just … Continue reading Free to Choose the Bus
  • The Case for Regional Rail - Central New York’s villages and cities are all places where people can live cheaply and easily without the need for a car. They are places where daily necessities are within walking distance, places with a variety of kinds of housing, places where full participation in the community’s economic and social life is possible for people … Continue reading The Case for Regional Rail
  • Getting to the Train Station - You arrive in Syracuse on a brand new high speed train. The trip back from Buffalo was less than 90 minutes—way faster than the 2 and a quarter hours it used to take before New York State built high speed rail. You caught up on some tv on the ride and are ready to get … Continue reading Getting to the Train Station
  • Trouble with the Curb - In the 2020 State of the City address, Mayor Ben Walsh announced that City Hall is going to try and find a way to take full responsibility for sidewalk maintenance and snow removal, and he announced that City Hall is going to repair a lot more pavement. These two promises have the potential to remake … Continue reading Trouble with the Curb
  • Buses for the Suburbs - Route 31 is going to need better bus service. That was obvious in May when Centro had to change its coach service to Oswego after so many people demanded stops at the apartments, businesses, and schools on 31 near 481, and it’s only going to be more true if County Executive Ryan McMahon actually manages … Continue reading Buses for the Suburbs
  • Trains Handle Snow Better Than Cars Do - 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 … Continue reading Trains Handle Snow Better Than Cars Do
  • Making James Street Better - When a car ran over 13-year-old Zyere Jackson on James Street his mother called it a ‘freak accident.’ It wasn’t. Cars regularly run into things and people on that street, and every day sees dozens of near-misses. People keep trying to walk across it, bike along it, and drive on it, though, because it’s the … Continue reading Making James Street Better