WXXI AM News

Commuters Give Up Cars and Warm Up to Public Transportation

Jun 18, 2015

Credit roctransitday.com

You may notice fewer cars on the road today.

It’s ROC Transit Day-an annual grassroots event that encourages all Rochesterians to try to live without their car for a day.

Some may be walking or biking to work and others will hop on the bus. 

Henry Fitts is a project manager in the city's Office of Innovation. He has coordinated efforts at City Hall to get about 30 colleagues to take the bus this morning.

He says it's not easy to get everyone to put down the car keys.

“There’s an identity connection people have with their car,” He said.  “The car symbolizes themselves as well as their position; to have a car and to be able to drive by themselves, I think. People also like to be in their own personal bubble where they can listen to their music in their own personal space.  I think there’s also a stigma riding the bus. I think that’s definitely changing for the younger generation. I’m one of the youngest people here (at City Hall). I hope that trend continues.”

But t's not just the younger generation that has realized the perks of public transportation.

Tom Wells is an environmental geologist who commutes to his office in the High Falls district from Pittsford. On days when his son needs to use his car, he takes the bus.  He doesn't need to give up his car today, but Wells is going to do it anyway, to be part of the event.

“One of the great things about taking the bus is it allows me to walk across the Pont de Rennes Bridge every morning to High Falls from the Transit Center. It’s such a gorgeous setting with the falls and the gorge.”

It's mostly the cost savings that have turned Kathy Hodges into a regular RTS bus rider.

She lives in Webster and has a half hour trip from her bus stop to her office at Thomson Reuters on Broad Street.  That includes the walk from the Transit Center.

Hodges says her co-workers pay more than $100 a month to park downtown.  She also likes the social aspect of public transportation. She has met people on the bus from her firm and other companies.

“It’s kind of neat how we look out for each other. If somebody hasn’t been on the bus for a few days people start asking around. Or if someone hasn’t been on the bus and they come back people ask, ‘Were you on vacation? Were you sick?’ "

There won't be an official tally on the number of people taking the ROC Transit Day challenge. Organizers say they handed out a thousand free bus fare cards. People who take them don't always use them.

But they hope more commuters are inspired to re-think their usual habits. Sometimes, co-workers can provide some inspiration.

“We have a fellow here (at Thomas Reuters) who rides the bus all the time now,” Hodges said.
 “And I think it was the result of those of us who do ride telling him about it and extolling the virtues of it. I think he’s on the bus just about every day now, except the days when he plays golf after work.”