• BRT on South Salina - Centro’s recent announcement that they are planning Bus Rapid Transit service along South Salina Street is great news for public transportation in Syracuse. Since 2017, pretty much all discussion of BRT in Syracuse has been confined to the two lines  described in SMTC’s SMART1 report, but SMART1 itself assumed the eventual BRT system would include … Continue reading BRT on South Salina
  • How to build rail transit in Onondaga County - Onondaga County’s extensive freight rail network—and particularly the elevated viaduct running through Downtown—has long inspired dreams of rail-based rapid transit in Syracuse. It seems like we’re this close to having big-city transit without the hassle of having to lay any new track or building much infrastructure. Just run passenger trains on the rails that are … Continue reading How to build rail transit in Onondaga County
  • Right-sizing Almond Street - When NYSDOT tears down the viaduct and builds the Community Grid, Almond Street should have the narrowest right-of-way possible. Last summer’s Draft Environmental Impact State showed Almond Street much too wide, but the Final Environmental Impact Statement NYSDOT released last week showed a path towards making Almond Street a more reasonable width. A primary goal … Continue reading Right-sizing Almond Street
  • Housing and highways in Onondaga County, 1940-2019 - Central New York’s highways remade the geography of where people live in Onondaga County. A new dataset makes it possible to track change in the number of housing units in each of the County’s census tracks from 1940-2019. These numbers show heavy housing losses in the few highway-adjacent neighborhoods that had lots of housing in … Continue reading Housing and highways in Onondaga County, 1940-2019
  • The chronic financial stress of car ownership - Assemblymember Pamela Hunter’s and State Senator John Mannion’s proposal to subsidize car driving by defunding public transit will entrench the very problem they want to solve. They are right that household budgets are getting squeezed by a sharp and unexpected increase in the costs of operating a car. But they offer the same solution that … Continue reading The chronic financial stress of car ownership
  • Freedom from gas prices - Rising gas prices have politicians scrambling to find some way to mitigate the impact on car drivers’ pocketbooks. But because gas prices get set by multinational corporations, local politicians have pretty limited options for doing this. Most have settled on a per-gallon gas subsidy in the form of a gas tax cap or holiday. This … Continue reading Freedom from gas prices
  • The Hub of New York State - Syracuse is and has always been a crossroads city. Civic boosters used to call it “the Central City” and “the Hub of New York State” because it is so easy to travel from Syracuse to other parts of the state. Some highway enthusiasts have pointed to this history to argue that removing the I-81 viaduct … Continue reading The Hub of New York State
  • Two versions of the Grid - There are two possible versions of the Community Grid. The better version has safe streets, clean air, and quiet neighborhoods. The worst possible version of the Grid is one where interstate vehicular traffic drives through city neighborhoods instead of following I81 around Syracuse. NYSDOT risks building the bad version of the Grid because they continue … Continue reading Two versions of the Grid
  • The roundabout’s new spot - NYSDOT’s new proposal to place a highway offramp at Van Buren Street shows how their desire to maintain a high-speed highway through the City is incompatible with residents’ desire for safe, connected neighborhoods free of noise and air pollution. The offramp—designed as a large roundabout—was originally planned for MLK Boulevard on the Southside. When NYSDOT … Continue reading The roundabout’s new spot
  • New payment options will remove a barrier to bus ridership - updated February 10, 2021 in light of information shared during Centro’s public hearings on fare restructuring. New payment technology will allow riders to pay the fare with their phones but not, initially, with a credit card. There are different kinds of barriers that keep people from riding the bus, and Centro’s about to remove one … Continue reading New payment options will remove a barrier to bus ridership
  • Restoring the Community’s Street Grid - The Near Eastside needs more small streets. A fine-grained street grid with many small streets and many small blocks yields many different benefits to a neighborhood. The Near Eastside used to have one of the most finely grained grids in Syracuse, but urban renewal removed many streets and consolidated many blocks, and the result is … Continue reading Restoring the Community’s Street Grid
  • The case for bus lanes - Syracuse should build bus lanes on specific high-traffic streets as part of the I-81 project. Giving buses dedicated space on city streets makes public transit faster, cheaper, and more reliable, and it’s an important step towards building a transportation system that works for everybody. But bus lanes weren’t included in NYSDOT’s draft plans for I-81, … Continue reading The case for bus lanes
  • More and better bike racks - Syracuse needs better bike storage. It’s no good biking somewhere if there’s nowhere to put the bike once you get there. Right now, there’s almost no place in Syracuse with dedicated bike storage for more than one or two people at a time. Bike riders make it work by locking to street signs, fences, benches, … Continue reading More and better bike racks
  • Centro’s new path forward - Centro has had a rough go of it the last few months, but the transit agency is poised to transform its service and serve the City better. Covid has shaken up service patterns and freed Centro to explore new service strategies, and the federal government’s infrastructure bill will provide the resources to implement those strategies effectively. … Continue reading Centro’s new path forward
  • Bikeshare and the suburbs - In Sync’s short history, it’s always been a City-centric service, but bikeshare could make its biggest impact in the suburbs. That’s because Sync’s ebikes are particularly useful for travelling long distances, and—with a growing network of intermunicipal trails—they could remake the way people get around Onondaga County. The Empire State Trail, Onondaga Creekwalk, and Loop … Continue reading Bikeshare and the suburbs
  • Building the infrastructure to make bikeshare succeed - You’d be hard pressed to find a better metaphor for the sorry state of our bike infrastructure than the Mayor announcing the return of bikeshare by riding an e-scooter over the barely visible remains of a sharrow worn away by car traffic. So—as someone who enjoys metaphors and is often very angry about how dangerous … Continue reading Building the infrastructure to make bikeshare succeed
  • How tearing down I-81 will reduce traffic - The I-81 Draft Environmental Impact Statement put a lot of effort into explaining exactly how many minutes it would take to drive a car between different points in the County depending on what NYSDOT ultimately decides to do with the I-81 viaduct. NYSDOT estimates, for instance, that in 2056 during the morning rush it’ll take … Continue reading How tearing down I-81 will reduce traffic
  • The price of delay - Now that it’s clear that I-81 is coming down, the viaduct’s supporters have adopted a new tactic: delay. They’re done trying to influence the final outcome of the project—compare the in-depth 2-year tunnel analysis to the half-assed Skyway proposal—and they are instead trying to hold it off as long as possible. The Mall has hired … Continue reading The price of delay
  • False hope for the viaduct - Assemblymember Bill Magnarelli just wrote an op-ed arguing that we can’t move forward with the I-81 project until there’s consensus. This is wrong, and we need to move past the false hope that the I-81 project can possibly please everybody. The Assemblymember pointed to widespread criticism of the recently release Draft Environmental Impact Statement as … Continue reading False hope for the viaduct
  • The Grid and Bus Rapid Transit - The I-81 project can and should help build a Bus Rapid Transit system in Syracuse. BRT will make public transportation much more useful for current riders, it will attract many new riders, and it will reduce traffic congestion and improve traffic safety for everybody who uses Syracuse’s streets. In the DEIS, NYSDOT lists “maintain[ing] access … Continue reading The Grid and Bus Rapid Transit