SCHUMER ANNOUNCES, IN EFFORT TO BRING RIDERS INTO NEW DOWNTOWN RTS TRANSIT CENTER, FREE BUS RIDES WILL BE AVAILABLE FROM TERMINAL OPENING IN NOV. UNTIL END OF YEAR – SCHUMER SECURED OVER $10M TO HELP MAKE NEW INDOOR BUS TERMINAL A REALITY; TERMINAL IS POISED TO TRANSFORM DOWNTOWN ROCHESTER & REVITALIZE MAIN STREET
Schumer Announces Free Fares From November 28 Until December 31 For Those Departing From or Transferring At New Transit Center – Will Allow Commuters, Travelers, Residents to Become Familiar With New Transit Center & New Bus Routes
Schumer Secured More Than $10 Million in Federal Funds for Transit Center Construction & More Than $500K Fed Grant to Convert St. Paul Street & N. Clinton Avenue into Two-Way Streets, Which Open to Two-Way Traffic Today – Both Projects Set Stage for Downtown Revitalization; Schumer Continuing to Push For Funds to Redevelop Main St.
Schumer: New Transit Center Means State-of-the-Art Transit Options for Residents & More Economic Activity Downtown
Today, at the Regional Transit Service (RTS) Transit Center in Downtown Rochester, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that, in an effort to help Rochester-area riders become familiar with the new transit center as well as the new bus routes, free bus trips will be offered for all riders boarding buses at the new transit center from the day it opens in late November until the end of the year. In addition to announcing this opportunity for local commuters, Schumer also discussed his role in making this new transit center a reality. Schumer noted his efforts to secure over $10 million in federal funds for the construction of the station – a key piece of funding that helped get the project off the ground – and his work to secure a $562,000 federal grant that helped convert St. Paul Street and North Clinton Avenue into two-way streets, which are now open to two-way traffic as of this week. Schumer said that this transit center will transform the local transportation system and help revitalize downtown.
“Whoever said there’s no such thing as a free ride need look no further than the brand-new, downtown indoor RTS Transit Center. I’m pleased to announce that from the day the new Transit Center opens through the rest of this year, all riders who catch the bus or transfer at the Transit Center will get a free ride,” said Schumer. “Just two years ago, I stood here as we first broke ground on what would become this Rochester Transit Center, and I could not be more proud to stand here today as we celebrate the opening of the RTS bus terminal and this opportunity to welcome residents to the new center and help them get familiar with new bus routes. This transit center will serve as a hub for both transportation and economic development for the entire Rochester area, and the free bus fares being offered will allow residents and travelers to experience this center’s ease and efficiency first hand.”
Schumer explained that the RTS Transit Center will open on November 28 and offer free fares to riders until December 31 so that residents, commuters and travelers may become familiar with the new transit hub as well as the new bus routes and options. Schumer explained that this terminal is poised to transform and revitalize downtown Rochester, and attract greater economic activity and development to Main Street. Schumer explained that the RTS center’s indoor facilities will provide passengers with a safe, warm, and comfortable place to wait for buses and transfers. According to the RTS, the 87,000 square foot building will have all of the amenities of a modern transportation hub, including electronic displays of bus departure times, ticket vending machines, public rest rooms, and an information center staffed to assist customers in navigating the Rochester area.
Schumer said, “Over the years, I have worked with the RTS to secure over $10 million in federal appropriations funding to construct this terminal, which has put over 400 Rochester construction workers on the job to make it a reality. Then two years ago, I stood here with local residents and City officials to push and then secure over $560,000 in federal funds that the City of Rochester needed to convert St. Paul Street and North Clinton Avenue into two-way streets, a new traffic pattern that will help this terminal thrive. I am honored to have been a partner in this endeavor and will continue to fight for the funding needed to keep the RTS terminal expanding and on the forefront of transportation innovation for years to come.”
Schumer has long supported redevelopment of Rochester’s downtown, particularly through its transit system. Schumer played a significant role in the initial stages of the RTS project and secured funding that helped make this transit center possible. Schumer secured $10.9 million in federal appropriations through the Federal Transit Administration for the approximately $50 million RTS Center project, which made the construction of the terminal a reality. Schumer also secured $562,000 in federal funds in 2012 to convert St. Paul Street and North Clinton Avenues into two-way streets, a critical investment that serves to better facilitate traffic patterns and access to the new station for bus riders, residents, and downtown businesses. By making each street two-way, the project will helped pedestrians, visitors and shoppers gain better and safer access to storefronts, businesses and more of the downtown area. Construction began last month to convert the streets with St. Paul Street opening to two-way traffic on October 16 and North Clinton opening to two-way traffic today, October 17. In addition, transit users will now have better access to Downtown Rochester. The Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority provides transportation services to tens of thousands of Rochester residents daily, as well as overseeing public transportation in Monroe, Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, Wayne, Wyoming and Seneca counties.
Schumer was joined by RTS CEO Bill Carpenter.
“The opening of the Transit Center will completely change the way our customers travel through Downtown,” said Bill Carpenter, Chief Executive Officer of Regional Transit Service. “We want them to take time to become familiar with the Transit Center and their brand new bus experience—and this fare holiday will make that easier. We also hope it will be an incentive for Rochester residents who are not regular customers to come in and hop on board RTS to get to their destination.”
Schumer explained that this RTS bus terminal and downtown redevelopment are necessary to better serve the more than 18 million customers that utilize RTS and Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority bus services each year. Schumer said that there are an estimated 20,000 customers that will utilize the transit terminal on a daily basis. According to RTS, beginning on January 1, 2015, regular bus prices will resume, but at $1 for a single-use trip, customers are still receiving the lowest bus fare in New York State.
During his visit, Schumer also renewed his push to secure further funding to continue improving the redevelopment of Rochester’s Main Street now made possible with the opening of the RTS bus terminal. Upon the opening of the new RTS indoor bus station, six outdoor bus shelters along East Main Street will be removed, along with the near-consistent bus traffic that caused congestion and long bus queues along Main Street that now block off customer access to storefronts on Main Street. Schumer explained that having the bus staging ground on Main Street meant the City of Rochester could not create on-street parking, which any retail outlet looks for when deciding if it will open a location. Now that these barriers are being removed, Schumer said it is the perfect time to install on-street parking to facilitate further economic development downtown. Schumer said he is currently pushing for the City of Rochester to receive a $1.6 million federal Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant to fund a major $2.4 million overhaul of Main Street from the Liberty Pole to the Genesee River that would include up to 50 new on-street parking spaces that are estimated to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of new retail sales opportunities for Main Street businesses and help attract new retail and commercial activity to Main Street.
Securing funding from TAP would also support development of existing Rochester sites now under renovation, like the Sibley Building and Midtown site in the downtown area. This would help to attract new businesses, pedestrians and visitors to Main Street. In addition to these new recessed parking areas, the plan would also construct new sidewalks, lighting, landscaping, bike racks, and a new system of pedestrian wayfinding signs and kiosks that would help hundreds of thousands of visitors to downtown Rochester navigate Center City and bring new customers to shops and restaurants that may otherwise have stayed in their hotel rooms and convention spaces.
Redoing East Main St. will also build on the other federal investments that Schumer has recently secured to redevelop downtown Rochester, including $4.3 million secured for new infrastructure, roads, and businesses at the Midtown site and $1.5 million for the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) to renovate and create a new business incubator in the historic Rochester Savings Bank building.
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