WXXI AM News

transit

The local public transportation system is about to change. "Reimagine RTS" is a year-long effort to revamp Rochester's public bus system to match community needs and desires. RTS just released phase three of the study. Phase three shares with the public the recommendations of RTS' consultant, and gathers more feedback.

So what should we expect to change, based on phase three? More bus routes? A new system entirely? We find out with RTS CEO Bill Carpenter

We’re talking about road diets. If you aren’t familiar with the term, it refers to reducing lanes or roads in order to minimize traffic accidents, reduce the amount of traffic, and create more space for all modes of transportation. Transit experts say road diets "can be seen as one of the transportation safety field's greatest success stories,” but, despite the research, critics say the best way to reduce traffic is to create more lanes.

The state DOT says it is moving in a direction of road diets in places like Pittsford and Brighton, but bicycling enthusiasts are concerned about what’s going on along East Avenue, where there’s a debate about how wide the turning lane should be. Our guests weigh in with their perspectives. In studio:

  • Heather O'Donnell, Leadership Team for Transportation, Rochester People's Climate Coalition
  • Robin Wilt, member of the Brighton Town Board
  • Dr. Scott MacRae, president of the Rochester Cycling Alliance

Leaders in Upstate New York say they need more attention – and more funding – to bolster transit options. For most cities that are not New York City, that means bus lines. RTS chief Bill Carpenter says the money has remained steady, but the needs have increased, and Rochesterians want better options. So what could RTS do with a big increase in funding? What should they do? And what about other cities that are considering not just buses, but other ideas?

Our guests discuss it:

What can Rochester learn from a city like Birmingham, Michigan? The city – just north of Detroit – has been hailed for completely implementing a plan called New Urbanism. The plan led to the building up of Birmingham’s downtown, higher commercial rent and land values, “complete streets,” and one of the most walkable cities in America.

Birmingham’s commissioner is an urbanist, an architect, and the city’s former mayor. We talk to him about the revitalization of his city, and what he thinks can be applied in Rochester. In studio:

Are urbanists trying to push cars out of American cities? A recent piece in The Urban Phoenix, which was created by a Rochesterian, argues that cars will always be king in this country, but we need to strike a much better balance. The piece was hailed by urbanists and mocked by some who saw it as an attack on the automobile.

So what does a balanced mode of transportation truly look like, and are we close to achieving it? Our guests:

How would a more robust public transit system change Rochester? And what would it look like?

The Community Design Center's Reshaping Rochester Series continues next week with the theme, Transportation as a Leveler. Two of the event's speakers join us on Connections to discuss the strategies they've used to improve public transit in cities like Tucson, Chicago, and Memphis, and how these successes have improved access to jobs, healthcare, and education. Our guests:

  • Mo Duggan, executive director, Community Design Center of Rochester
  • Roger Brown, creative Consultant, Community Design Center of Rochester
  • Steve Farley, Arizona State Senator
  • Jacky Grimshaw, vice president for policy, Center for Neighborhood Technology

ROCHESTER GENESEE REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY

If you’re a person who frequently rides buses and subways, particularly during peak hours, then you may have been called the “S” word. You stand in the crammed aisle and hold on to a strap or handrail so that you don’t fall down. History has it you’re a Straphanger.

It’s an old term, from the 19th century, currently used in places like New York City and London. Straphanger is also the title of a book written by Taras Grescoe, a worldly, avid transit user. 

We're looking at the future of transportation as we look at what other cities have done -- and what might be possible in Rochester. It's the final lecture in the annual Reshaping Rochester series, and we'll preview it on Connections with our guests:

  • Norman Garrick, Ph. D., Associate Professor, University of Connecticut, Speaker for the final RRCDC lecture
  • Crystal Benjamin-Bafford, Director of Service Planning, RTS  
  • Jim McIntosh, City of Rochester Engineer
  • Howard Decker,FAIA , RRCDC Rochester board member