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Centro to seek public input as it plans to reshape public-transit systems

Centro says it wants to review its Syracuse route system and implement a bus rapid transit (BRT) system. It plans some public-outreach sessions and other public meetings later this year to gather input. (Eric Reinhardt / CNYBJ file photo)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Centro says it’s looking to “reshape” its public-transit systems and diversify transit options for its customers.

“The commuting habits within the communities we serve are rapidly evolving and we need to evaluate and respond accordingly,” Brian Schultz, CEO of Centro, said in a statement. “Part of our assessment will be the most comprehensive review of our Syracuse route system in more than 20 years and the implementation of a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system.”

Centro recently received $3 million to help fund BRT as part of the recently approved 2023 federal budget. The organization will use the money to pay for buses and BRT stations as part of the overall $35 million capital costs for the BRT project.

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Centro’s system retooling will begin with a series of public-outreach sessions focused on the Syracuse bus system. The sessions, which Centro is calling Exploring Tomorrow’s Transit (ETT), are a cooperative effort between Centro and the Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council (SMTC), which will begin this month.

The organization will initially ask community members to fill out a survey on transit concepts. A series of public meetings will follow later this year to gather more information.

“We will be reaching out to Centro customers, as well as those that don’t currently use our system, to see what types of services and bus routes might be attractive in the future,” Schultz said. “There is a lot to consider. We are seeing significant changes since the pandemic. More people are working remotely, but at the same time we are seeing a growing demand to reach employment centers in non-traditional locations. As we look into the future, we must also consider the I-81 plan and the addition of Micron to our community.”

Centro will also assess its bus routes in the other cities and communities it serves. In all locations, Centro says it will “continue its commitment to transportation services within thriving downtown employment centers served by our transit hubs.”

In addition to BRT, Centro will also explore on-demand transportation and bike/scooter share services. Centro has hired a transportation consultant, IBI Group, to assist with the design and implementation of BRT, system reshaping and new transportation options. IBI Group performed the SMTC Smart1 study that outlined the framework for a BRT network in Syracuse.

About BRT

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is described as a “high-quality bus-based transit system that delivers fast and efficient service that may include dedicated lanes, busways, traffic signal priority, off-board fare collection, elevated platforms and enhanced stations,” according to the website of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), which is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

BRT has advanced throughout the U.S. in the last decade as congestion has increased and community leaders have sought “affordable transit alternatives,” the FTA website says. BRT systems operate in big cities like Los Angeles and is “growing in popularity” among mid-sized metropolitan areas like Eugene, Oregon.

 

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