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Syracuse mayor asks Centro not to cut bus service

CentroBus.jpg
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A Centro bus at the main bus stop on Syracuse University's campus.

Syracuse’s mayor is calling on its regional public transit system to preserve its current level of service, even as the bus service faces budget shortfalls.

The Centro bus system is considering eliminating late night and Sunday bus service to close a large budget gap. Such cuts could make it hard for low income riders without a car to get to work or make other errands.

In a letter to the Central New York Regional Transportation Authority (CNYRTA), which operates the Centro busses, Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner says reducing public transportation is an unacceptable solution to its fiscal problems. She says public transportation is an important part of the region’s economic vitality.

"While I certainly understand having to manage the consequences of rising healthcare and operational costs, altering the role of public transportation in this community is an unacceptable solution for these stresses," the mayor writes.

The letter is to Frank Kobliski, executive director of the CNYRTA.

The transit authority says it’s dealing with rising operational and personnel costs. Miner says Centro should hold a public forum before deciding on cuts.

The authority’s next board meeting is Feb. 27. The board would have to sign off on any service cuts and Centro’s budget.

Mayor Miner's letter:

Dear Mr. Kobliski:

I read CNYRTA’s preliminary budget proposes eliminating all bus service after 9:00 PM on weekdays, 7:00 PM on Saturday, and all service on Sunday. While I certainly understand having to manage the consequences of rising healthcare and operational costs, altering the role of public transportation in this community is an unacceptable solution for these stresses.

Instead of expanding services to encourage economic growth at a time it is desperately needed, this proposal would drastically cut services, forcing the most vulnerable members of our community to find alternative ways to get to work. In this region, alternative modes of transportation can be difficult to come by and could ultimately form another barrier for people trying to keep or find a job. We must ensure members of our community who are willing to work have the ability to get to and from their jobs.

The Centerstate New York Agenda for Economic Opportunity acknowledges the important role transportation services have in our community by highlighting the need to “enhance transit services linking neighborhoods to job creators.” Maintaining the current bus schedule is an investment that is essential to the economic future of this region. I am in strong opposition to this proposal. I also urge you to hold a meeting open to the public to discuss the proposed changes and hear firsthand the adverse effect it will have on this community.