Public transit plays a critical role in our community. Every day, thousands of people take the bus to work, school, medical appointments, retail outlets and recreational activities. This means that public transit is a key contributor of success in our economy, the classroom, the workplace and in our medical facilities.
The public transit system in Monroe County has essentially been the same for decades, designed when downtown Rochester was the center of our community from every perspective. Since then, the demographics of our area have changed, the locations of employment centers have changed, new technologies have emerged and people now have more mobility options to choose from than ever before. This transformation created a new reality for public transit that we will not ignore. We launched Reimagine RTS in September 2017 in response to this new reality.
Reimagine RTS is a five-stage, multi-year process that RTS is going through to make the changes to our public transit system that are necessary to better meet your needs.
We recently completed the first stage of the process. During this stage, we worked with a consultant to determine what the fixed-route component of our transit system should look like. The fixed-route system is the network of routes that our 40- and 60-foot buses follow today. Stage one lasted one year, involved more than 150 meetings and events throughout the community, and resulted in a recommendation from our consultant for a new fixed-route system that is based on extensive customer input.
Part of the consultant’s recommendation includes providing service differently to certain areas of our community. These areas are called Community Mobility Zones (CMZ). This would be done by embracing the new technologies and mobility options that are driving the change in our industry. This is where the reimagine of Reimagine RTS comes into play.
Stage two, which will begin in October and run through late winter/early spring, will focus on identifying the mobility options for each CMZ that make more sense than the big buses we have on the road today. Stage three will begin in the spring of 2019. This is when we will determine the solutions for paratransit service. Stage four will take place in summer 2019 when we will present to our board of commissioners, and the public, our final plan for the reimagined system and its implementation. The final stage of the process will begin in the summer of 2020 when we implement the new system.
The new transit system will be easier to use and understand, and because so many in the community have been involved in its reimagining, we know it will be successful for many years to come. Thank you for your support. We look forward to our continued work together to bring our reimagined transit system to life.
Velazquez is chief operating officer of Regional Transit Service.