The issue of sustainable transportation has become a central force across the country and has played out in Rochester as well. The most recent go round concerned the approval of $52 million dollars to build a bus garage barn on Mortimier St.
Much of the limited thought given by the majority of city council members was geared towards just spending the money, period. There was indication that if they had pursued the issue with greater interest that $52 million could have been spent towards other transportation needs including the more sustainable model of using inter-modal transportation to provide a variety of types of service (bikes,light rail, high speed rail, buses) at one service location. The Amtrack location and to include the Cumberlain post office would have made an ideal spot. There was strong community support with many speakers at the series of public hearings held voicing positive and very enlightened ideas.
A survey was developed by Councilperson Carla Palumbo which was first referred to as a petition then later as a survey which would have no signatures. It merely asked if bus riders would want a place to go for shelter in bad weather. (Of course the inter-modal station would have had a central building likely the old Cumberlain post office for shelter.) This writer obtained a copy of the survey but no information as to exactly who distributed, collected the surveys or where they were placed.
Note: a freedom of information request was used. When asked about whether the respondents were told about other options that were likely to be in the works, the answer given was voters did not have to know about that because that wasn't the subject at present.
It is important to note that while New York failed to submit a recent request for fast rail that just this week money for both fast rail and intermodal transportation was granted for Rochester. The Mayor has stated that there will be connectability to the newly approved Mortimier bus garage but has failed to indicate exactly what that connecting piece will be. Also, the newly built ESL building costs the same amount of money that has been approved for the Mortimier bus garage which is only a fraction of the size.
The issue of transportation is critical to both a cleaner environment and to community development. Much of the past sprawl which has served to separate good community development that consists of diversity of income, of race and ethnicity, environmental health and livability has been the result of poor transportation options and planning. Rochester ranks number 2 in poor air quality due to levels of ozone. This is to say nothing about the current spill in the Gulf of Mexico and a series of wars fought to sustain our oil consumption.
It may be possible to have some of the testimony given at the public hearings available on line. The bus fareness coalition has been working on several concerns expressed by bus riders in our meetings with the Commissioners from RGRTA. This was also referred to at the public hearing on June 15th. There were two council members who voted against the Mortimier plan --D. Miller and C. Conklin. Three were need to stop the project. - Bonnie Cannan