RGRTA Pushes Ahead with Bus Terminal

RGRTA Pushes Ahead with Bus Terminal

This article was scraped from Rochester Subway. This is a blog about Rochester history and urbanism has not been published since 2017. The current owners are now publishing link spam which made me want to preserve this history.. The original article was published June 09, 2010 and can be found here.

Proposed transit center looking northeast along Saint Paul Street.

   According to     an article    in today's Democrat & Chronicle, RGRTA has decided it does not need to produce an environmental study for it's proposed bus garage on Mortimer Street. And the project that was despised by the public and the City when it was part of Renaissance Square looks like it will be embraced warmly at next week's City Council meeting.

Let's be honest, this is more than just a project...

The development of this bus station is a critical test of our city's commitment to transit. Every project that might follow this, including bike plans, rail plans, even the bus system itself, could be damaged if we mess this up. Unfortunately we may have already failed this test. Why? Because we've sat on our hands for decades, believing that transit planning was RGRTA's job alone. And now we're all in reaction mode over this one bus terminal.

If Rochester really wants to dust off the rust it will follow the model set by forward-thinking cities like Portland and start taking a more active approach to transportation planning. The reason Rochester consistently finds itself having to choose between lesser evils is evidence that our laissez-faire approach has run its course.


Bus routes and streetcar lines converge on Portland's transit mall. Bikes, autos, buses, and streetcar share these streets and the area is referred to as Portland's living room because of the constant activity.

   Were I a city planner I'd design a public square where buses could meet and people could transfer between lines. It would have dedicated bus lanes, bike lanes, and pedestrian thoroughfares going into it and out of it. Vendors would be invited to sell goods there in an open air market. Coffee shops and bars would be encouraged. Food trucks would be permitted to park there. One corner might be dedicated to a skate park or playground. A small police substation would sit at another corner. I'd try to create an area where there were ALWAYS people around -- different things to do, pleasant places to sit, lots of places within walking distance, etc. AND I'd invest heavily in that area as a permanent transportation hub. I'd be thinking and planning the placement of future streetcar or light rail routes in and out of this area. I'm thinking of Portland's transit mall in particular but there are plenty of other examples across the country.

Rochester hasn't planned or really THOUGHT about any of this. And so all we're all in a frenzy over a "bus barn" from RGRTA. Who's fault is this? It's mine. It's yours. It's the fault of every member of City Council, the Mayor, our city engineers and planners. We all deserve a share of the blame and we deserve what we get if we continue to do nothing. At what point will Rochester finally commit to doing something 100%? Not a half-assed temporary solution, but a permanent commitment that we can continue to build on and use to grow our city.

The City of Rochester... NO... Monroe County AND the City should assemble a task force and assign them the job of drawing up a comprehensive transit-oriented development plan. This way future transportation projects like this will drive us toward a common vision, and will hopefully not be so controversial.


If you're thinking to yourself, "Gee what can I do?" Here's something... Why not ask your     City Council    representatives to ride the bus for one day, or even one week, each year. Challenge them to do so and ask questions of them at public meetings and election time. This is important. I mean how can we expect City Council to cast an educated vote on this bus terminal if none of them use the bus system? It's outrageous really. If Council experienced first hand what their constituents use everyday and talked to fellow riders about their frustrations and their ideas, I guarantee Rochester would have a comprehensive transit plan real quick.

Chris Gemignani

Chris Gemignani

Rochester, NY, USA