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Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council exploring future needs of Centro in Onondaga County

Ava Pukatch

Centro and the Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council are exploring the community's needs and expectations for public transit — especially as Centro gears up toimplement bus rapid transit.

Syracuse University junior Isabela Couoh rides the bus almost daily for class, going to a laundromat or getting groceries.

"I do not have a car on campus and I rely a lot on friends to drive me to Walmart and get food," Couoh said. "I think that if the transit system were easier to predict and you could plan it out ahead of time more easily then a lot of more students would be using it."

With bus rapid transit, service could be easier to use and more reliable. James D'Agostino, director of the Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council, said buses will make fewer stops but will run more frequently.

"With the idea that if you can find a stop on the BRT system, you stand there 15 minutes, no matter when you're there within 15 minutes, the next [bus] is going to come," D'Agostino said.

Meghan Vitale, principal transportation planner with the Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council, said outreach is focused on what else people want to see as BRT is implemented. She said a previous survey of Centro riders found people were using the bus service not just to commute to work but to go to school, appointments, shopping and even just to visit friends and family.

"When we're thinking about this future of our transportation system, we absolutely need to think about access to jobs," Vitale said. "But we need to think more holistically about how people need to get around in our region."

D'Agostino said they understand BRT is not a solution for everyone mentioning Centro is also exploring on-demand service and scooter share in addition to the standard fixed route service.

"People tell us all the time that 'I don't care what you do, I'm never going to ride a bus,'" D'Agostino said. "I get that, that's a certain percentage of the population. But if we can chip away at that and reduce that number a little bit, every time you reduce that number a little bit, it translates to a lot of transit rides and a lot less vehicles on the road. That's the goal."

Centro said implementation of BRT is not scheduled until 2026.

The Exploring Tomorrow's Transit survey is open until May 16. A virtual open house will be held on April 26 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. via Zoom. A second in-person open house will be held May 2 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Carman Community Room at Liverpool Public Library.

Ava Pukatch joined the WRVO news team in September 2022. She previously reported for WCHL in Chapel Hill, NC and earned a degree in Journalism and Media from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Ava was a Stembler Scholar and a reporter and producer for the award-winning UNC Hussman broadcast Carolina Connection. In her free time, Ava enjoys theatre, coffee and cheering on Tar Heel sports. Find her on Twitter @apukatch.