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Transportation study shows future could bring shift away from cars

Doug Kerr

A study of how individuals in the region travel the area shows a shift could be coming away from the traditional car-centric culture.

A yearlong study by the Onondaga Citizens League, called “How Central New York Moves,” shows a “back to the city” movement. An increasing aging population, as well as the tendencies of millennials, is creating more interest in walkable, bikeable and transit-based transportation.

The study’s co-chair Heidi Holtz said the area’s main transportation company, CENTRO, can’t be the answer to all the issues.

"It means being multimodal,” Holtz said. “CENTRO can have modifications like bus rapid transit but things like Uber [and] private transportation systems helping support companies that want to run their own shuttles to accommodate times as well. [Also], companies maybe need to be more flexible about shifts.”

Holtz said the biggest challenge in the area is a lack of density, which makes it more difficult to expand mass transit and create infrastructure for walking or biking. She says the trend is not going toward expanding the public transportation system into rural areas for families of five or six people.

“We’re not dense enough to really support a really robust public transit system, to really support as many of the bike lanes as we might have,” Holtz said. “There are certainly weather considerations, but what we discovered was that actually doesn’t get in the way of a lot of people.”

Holtz said that different stakeholders will need to work together on untangling a transportation conundrum, and she says some of that has already sprung from the study’s final report that’ll be released in a few weeks.

“We already know there are people who have connected who had not connected before,” Holtz said. “Sometimes we find that just the process of the study is as valuable as the printing of the document.”

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.