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Could 'Bus Rapid Transit' change the way central New Yorkers get around?

Ellen Abbott
Officials say the Bus Rapid Transit system would get more people around the city faster

The Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council (SMTC) has issued its final recommendation on a transit plan that could change the way central New Yorkers get around.

The final report focuses on the idea of Bus Rapid Transit. It involves creating corridors in high traffic areas that are earmarked for buses that would travel more quickly, with fewer stops. Council Director Jim D’Agostino says the SMTC is proposing corridors that essentially make an X across the city, from University Hill to Destiny USA, and Onondaga Community College to James Street. 

And the cost?

“It’s in the order of the magnitude of over $30 million to build the whole thing out, which sounds like a lot of money. And it is, I’m not trying to understate that,” said D’Agostino. “But we’ve made similar investments in the community. The Connective Corridor is of a similar scale, and this would serve, theoretically, a lot more people than is currently served by the Connective Corridor.”

D’Agostino expects this kind of rapid bus service would help people in impoverished parts of the city who need to use it. But also he says it would attract choice riders, people who would use it because it’s quick and convenient.

“It would help people who have to use transit, but it might also make people say, ‘It’s so convenient, now, it’s so fast, it’s so easy. I’m going to use transit now.’ And so now we have choice riders in addition to people who have to use transit.  And that’s how you really build a system that’s going to work for the community,” he said.

The SMTC has presented the plan to the community, and now it’s time for central New Yorkers to decide if they want to add this to their transportation landscape.

“We need to hear from people. People need to say we need this in our community. And it’s not a mystery to how to make this happen. Just down the Thruway in Albany they have this. And it works great,” said D’Agostino.