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The Upstate Economy

CENTRO to receive record federal funding from federal infrastructure package

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Ellen Abbott
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WRVO Public Media File Photo

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D–New York, visited the bus company’s garage in Syracuse to announce the federal funding.

"The bipartisan infrastructure framework that I led through the Senate will deliver a record $74 million over the next five years for CENTRO,” said Schumer. “That’s more than CENTRO has ever received from the federal government."

This money is specifically is earmarked mostly for capital expenses– such as bus purchases and facility upgrades–according to CENTRO Chief Executive Officer Brian Schultz. With those capital purchases taken care of, CENTRO can work on reimagining its future. That includes the long-discussed Bus Rapid Transit plan which would allow buses to move much quicker on an X-shaped route through the City of Syracuse. However, it also allows for some other initiatives like on-demand service.

"So that actually works with smaller buses, you can probably operate them with vans and smaller call-a-bus sized buses,” said Schultz. “But it works kind of like an Uber. You call and say ‘I need a ride right now,’ and our schedulers work. You may have to walk two or three blocks to a stop because somebody else is coming from the other way."

Schultz says the bus company will also look at the fare structure in all four counties. CENTRO lost 50% of its ridership because of the pandemic. Schultz said this investment gives the beleaguered bus company some breathing room to make changes.

"The allocation from the [American Rescue Plan Act] will allow us to build a system that’s bigger, better and faster,” he said.