What is Reimagine RTS?

Reimagine RTS is a planning process that is exploring changes to the RTS transit system to better meet the changing needs of the region. This project focuses on transit service within Monroe County, NY, including Downtown Rochester and the surrounding suburbs. 

Why is RTS doing this now?

The region’s economy and the needs of the community are changing. As a result, RTS is reimagining public transit in Monroe County to promote growth and better meet the mobility needs of the community.

The public transit system in Monroe County was designed decades ago when downtown Rochester was the center of our community from every perspective – economically, residentially and culturally. Since then, the demographics of our area have changed, the locations of employment centers have changed, and the number of available mobility options has changed. Demands from senior citizens, millennials, individuals with disabilities, and those working to escape poverty continue to grow. More businesses are locating to areas of our region that we do not serve well, if at all. With the emergence of new transportation options such as bike sharing, car sharing, ride sharing and vanpools, it is no longer the case that public transit and the personal automobile are the community’s only options to reach their destinations. This has created a new reality for public transit that we will not ignore.

Who is involved in Reimagine RTS?

During Stage 1 of Reimagine RTS, we ensured the involvement of a wide variety of stakeholders. This included RTS customers and employees, business partners, community and neighborhood organizations, advocacy groups, elected officials, business owners, community members, potential future customers, and residents of Monroe County. 

To assist with technical analysis and community engagement during Stage 1, RTS engaged the services of a consulting team comprised of Transportation Management & Design, Inc. (TMD) and Highland Planning.

Will my bus route change as a result of Reimagine RTS?

Many routes will be improved and some routes will be replaced by something other than the standard 40- and 60-foot buses in areas known as Community Mobility Zones. We have just finished Stage 1 of Reimagine RTS, which produced our consultant’s recommendation for fixed-route service in Monroe County. During Stage 2, which will begin this fall, we will study the various transportation options that will work best in the Community Mobility Zones. The complete and final improvements to the transit system will be proposed for approval in the summer of 2019.

What is the Reimagine RTS Timeline?

  • September 2017 – August 2018: Stage 1 – this involved getting a recommendation for the fixed-route transit system from our consultant Transportation Management & Design, Inc. Complete
  • Fall 2018 – Late Winter 2019: Stage 2 – this will involve a study of the various transportation options that would work best in the Community Mobility Zones.
  • Spring 2019: Stage 3 – We will then determine solutions for Paratransit Service.
  • Summer 2019: Stage 4 – We will present the finalized transit plan for approval. We will also present the implementation plan.
  • Summer 2020: Stage 5 – We anticipate implementation of the reimagined public transit network.

What are Reimagine RTS’ Guiding Principles and Goals?

The guiding principles are the themes of the reimagined system and the goals detail what we want to accomplish to make the themes a reality. The five guiding principles and related goals are as follows:

  • Maximize Ridership
    Goal: Increase the total number of boardings
  • Enhance the Customer Experience
    Goal: Decrease customer wait time
    Goal: Decrease customer travel time
  • Ensure System Sustainability
    Goal: Decrease the net cost per customer
  • Expand Public Transit to Include More Mobility Options
    Goal: Increase the diversity of services available to customers
  • Coordinate with Community Initiatives
    Goal: Encourage community development around the frequent transit network

How were the Guiding Principles and Goals developed and why are they important?

The guiding principles and goals are based on analysis of data and public input provided during phase one. They are important for two reasons. First, because we want to ensure changes to the transit system include significant input from the community. Second, because any proposed changes to the transit system will be linked directly to the guiding principles and goals. The guiding principles and goals are the part of the process that link community input to the changes that will be made to the transit system.

How did you decide that this is what the new transit system in Monroe County should look like?

RTS has not yet made a decision on what the new transit system in Monroe County should look like. We just completed Stage 1, which ended with a recommendation from TMD for the fixed-route component of the transit system. We still have two stages to complete before presenting our final plan for approval in the summer of 2019. You can view TMD’s recommendation at reimagine.myrts.com/transit-plan/.

What is a "Short Line," "Long Line," "Crosstown Route," "Connection Hub," and "Community Mobility Zone?"

TMD’s recommendations incorporate some new features:

Short Line: trips that only cover a designated portion of a route. Short lines are used to provide increased frequency on higher-demand segments of a route, for example, on the 1 Lake between the RTS Transit Center and Eastman Business Park.

Long Line: trips that cover the entire portion of a route. For example, the 1 Lake runs from the RTS Transit Center all the way to Charlotte Beach.

Crosstown route: a route that connects communities without traveling downtown. These routes do not serve the RTS Transit Center but connect with many routes that do.

Connection hub: a designated point where customers may transfer between multiple RTS routes or make the connection between the RTS fixed route system and other modes of transportation in order to get to their final destinations. Some of these other modes may include vanpool, carshare, bikeshare, or Uber/Lyft. RTS will begin identifying these other modes of transportation during Stage 2 of Reimagine RTS.

Community Mobility Zone: areas to pilot more cost-effective mobility solutions (for example, shared-ride trips, destination shuttles, vanpools, etc.). These solutions will be developed in conjunction with the community during Stage 2.

How was TMD’s recommendation developed?

TMD’s completed report and recommendation is the result of a four phase, year-long study – Stage 1 of Reimagine RTS. During Phase 1, we gathered input and set goals. During Phase 2, we analyzed data and developed the guiding principles for the reimagined system. During Phase 3, we shared the draft of TMD’s recommendation to get feedback from the community. During Phase 4, we released TMD’s completed report and recommendation. We conducted outreach to the community throughout Stage 1 to ensure customers, employees and stakeholders were involved, and that their priorities were represented in TMD’s recommendation.

If the recommended transit system is what RTS implements, what impact will that have on the paratransit service area and supplemental area?

RTS is not able to answer that question at this time. Complementary paratransit service will be provided as required by the ADA. RTS has a history of providing service levels beyond what the ADA requires. Our goal for paratransit service is to continue to provide service levels beyond what is required. We plan to determine the solutions for Paratransit Service in the Spring of 2019, during Stage 3 of Reimagine RTS.

Is Reimagine RTS just an excuse to cut routes, eliminate staff and save money?

No. The purpose of Reimagine RTS is to study what the community needs from a public transit system that faces a new reality. Rapidly changing demands, new technologies, and the emergence of more transportation options have created this new reality. Reimagine RTS is how we will ensure RTS is able to provide public transit that is safe, reliable, convenient and relevant for many years to come.

If different transportation options are incorporated into the system, would RTS subsidize those options?

The financial model used for different transportation options would depend on whether RTS expands the products we offer or partners with private companies to provide those options. This is something RTS will explore during Stage 2 of Reimagine RTS.

If routes will be discontinued in the new system, what criteria will be used to make those decisions?

Decisions about the new system and its routes will be made after the completion of the Reimagine RTS study. If the new system does include the discontinuation or combination of routes there are a number of factors that would go into those decisions. These include ridership, the per-customer subsidy cost, and whether or not the customers on that route would be better served by other routes or transportation options. Stage 2 of Reimagine RTS will study potential solutions for customers in these areas.

Who is responsible for figuring out what the Community Mobility Zones will look like?

RTS is in the process of hiring a consultant to study the various transportation options that could be implemented in the community mobility zones. This will be Stage 2 of Reimagine RTS and will run from fall 2018 through late-winter 2019.

How will the new system affect transfer time at the RTS Transit Center?

If we implement a new system that is similar to what TMD recommends, customers will not have to wait as long to transfer, especially if transferring to routes that are part of a frequent network.

How would a transit system like the one proposed by TMD influence connections with surrounding counties?

We do not yet know how the reimagined transit system would influence connections with surrounding counties. The implementation of connection hubs and efforts related to Community Mobility Zones have the potential to improve connectivity in Monroe County and between Monroe and surrounding counties.

Why doesn’t TMD’s recommendation utilize a grid-based design?

The draft plan recommends that the public transit system move from what has historically been a radial network where everything comes downtown, to one that reorients the network toward a grid, with the introduction of two new crosstown routes. The current street network and natural barriers like the Genesee River limit our ability to implement a true grid system.

The proposed network respects current travel patterns while creating new opportunities for faster trips using new transfers available in the radial/crosstown connections.

If the recommended transit system is implemented, what impact will that have on the service provided to RTS’ business partners?

RTS partners with multiple organizations to provide safe, reliable, affordable transportation to the organizations’ employees, students, patients, and customers. It is too early in the process to know what impact the new system will have on individual business partners. They are invited to participate in the Reimagine RTS process to learn about potential changes and provide feedback on what would work best for them. Stage 2 of Reimagine RTS will involve identifying transportation options that would work for them besides a 40-foot bus.

How will you determine what transportation options will be available in the Community Mobility Zones?

We are going to conduct a study of the different transportation options beginning in the fall of 2018 (Stage 2 of Reimagine RTS). We anticipate the study will end in late winter/early spring of 2019. We will be reaching out to the community to ask for their involvement and input.

Are the transportation options for the Community Mobility Zones funded? If not, when and how will they be funded?

RTS will be able to answer those questions when we complete Stage 2 of Reimagine RTS.

Do you have additional questions?

Please contact us.