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Archive for the ‘Transportation’ Category

Green Party of Onondaga County Statement on CENTRO Cuts

In Transportation, UnCut on March 11, 2015 at 8:27 am

The Green Party of Onondaga County supports a robust public transit system serving Syracuse and Onondaga County.  For the 31% of the people in Syracuse who do not own cars or cannot drive due to health or disability, CENTRO is a lifeline to work, shop, recreate, and be an active member of our community.  For others, using public transit is a choice and CENTRO enables them to leave their cars at home, save money, and reduce our carbon foot print.  Students, in particular, ride CENTRO to our local public schools, colleges and universities.

These are not the first cuts that CENTRO has imposed on our community.  Many Syracuse and suburban neighborhoods currently have no CENTRO service in the late evenings and very limited service on weekends.  Cuts that are now proposed to close the $4.5 million  budget gap would further reduce evening and weekend service.  These cuts come at a time when Syracuse and Syracusans are facing hard economic times and would further exacerbate the situation.  People who rely on CENTRO to get them to and from work in the evening and on weekends might be forced to give up their jobs, causing economic harm to themselves and to the businesses that employ them, most notably hospitals, nursing homes, retail stores and restaurants.   Businesses would also lose the commerce from those who use public transit for evening and weekend shopping.  While losing CENTRO services will drive many back into their cars, these cuts have the most significant impact on households without the income to own and maintain a car, persons with disabilities and the elderly.  For these individuals, public transit is not a luxury, it is a lifeline.

The Green Party of Onondaga County proposes a number of alternatives to proposed CENTRO service cuts that would enhance revenue to not only maintain but also improve service over the short and long term:

  • Single Payer Health Care:   A long-term solution to CENTRO’s budget shortfalls is the implementation of a New York State single payer health care system.  CENTRO’s cost of employee medical coverage is projected at $11.4 million, a $1.9 million increase from FY15 to FY16.  A single payer system would reduce health care costs to all employers, including CENTRO.
  • Enhanced State Revenue for Public Transit:  while the Governor’s proposed state budget has a 2% increase, funding for public transportation has been flatlined.  At a minimum, the state budget should increase funding for public transit by 2%
  • Increased Gas Tax:  The state should raise the gas tax and dedicate it to public transit, or give Syracuse/Onondaga County local authority to raise the tax and dedicated the increased revenue to CENTRO.  This would not only enhance public transit revenue, but would also encourage those with cars to use public transit.
  • Local Income Tax:  CENTRO service cuts will hit residents hard, but will have the most negative impact on poor people who cannot afford alternative transportation.  If the state won’t meet its public transmit mandate and provide adequate funding to CENTRO to serve the transit needs of local residents, then the state should give Onondaga County the authority to tax ourselves to equitably provide this service with a local, progressive income tax, where the fiscal burden is shared equitably according to ability to pay.  

We need to take the fight to our NYS legislative delegation and demand that the state pay fully for public transit.  If they will not do that, then they need give us the authority to pay for transit ourselves in an equitable fashion, such as a gas and/or local income tax.    And the Assembly, where a majority of members say they support single payer health care in NYS, should take the first step toward single payer and pass the New York Health bill now.      

For More Info: Ursula Rozum, Green Party Secretary, (315) 414-7720,ursula.rozum@gmail.comwww.syracusegreens.org

EDITOR’S NOTE: Take the Next Step and Attend Today’s “Public Hearing on Cuts to Centro Service” at the OnCenter War memorial Arena in Syracuse from 4-7 PM – https://www.facebook.com/events/1406461616326386/ 

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Free The University Avenue Cycle Track in Syracuse

In Grassroots, Transportation on March 10, 2015 at 11:32 am

One block of the state-of-the-art cycle track on University Avenue has been covered over and blocked off for nearly a year, creating dangerous conditions for pedestrians, motorists, as well as cyclists. With construction halted and now stalled in litigation, there is little hope for it opening soon.

The first phase of the Connective Corridor was completed in 2012. The new bike infrastructure included a 2-lane cycle track on the East Side of University Avenue from East Genesee Street to Waverly Avenue. This first phase of the Connective Corridor cost millions of mostly-federal dollars.

In the spring of 2014, Cameron Hill Construction LLC, the developer of what was to be the new SU bookstore, covered and fenced off one block of the cycle track between Adams Street and Marshall Street. Orange signs now direct cyclists to dismount their bicycles and walk on the sidewalk on the west side of University Avenue, essentially destroying the functionality of the entire cycle track. It is unsafe, not only for bicyclists and pedestrians, but also for motorists, who must now contend with unexpected and somewhat unpredictable movement by these other users.

In June 2014, SU attempted to end their contract with Cameron due to lack of progress in construction. In July 2014, Cameron sued to block SU from doing so; and in August, the State Supreme Court granted a temporary injunction prohibiting SU from ending the agreement, simultaneously barring the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency from canceling a payment-in-lieu-of-tax agreement with Cameron pending the outcome of Cameron’s lawsuit against the university.

Since then, there has been no obvious progress. Seven months have passed while the cycle track has remained closed. This is unacceptable.

BikeCNY is a newly-resurrected Bicycle Advocacy Group in Greater Syracuse that advocates for the safety of bicyclists and the installation of new bicycle infrastructure.

BikeCNY calls on city leaders to step up and resolve this issue so that the cycle track is functional in time for bicyclists to use it when spring weather arrives.

The developer has a permit from the city to close the cycle track. That permit should be revoked and the developer given a deadline to restore the cycle track and remove the fence.

There are a lot of smart, well-paid people involved with this issue from the City, the developer, and the University. BikeCNY requests that they work together to resolve this issue so the people who helped to pay for the cycle track can again use it.

Bike CNY’s next meeting is on Tuesday, March 17th at 7pm at Mello Velo Cafe, 556 Westcott Street.

https://bikecny.wordpress.com/contact-us/

Syracuse Common Council Meeting on Centro Proposed Cuts

In Government, Transportation, Video Documentation on February 19, 2015 at 9:25 pm

Syracuse Common Council committee meeting on alternatives to cutting service to Central NY’s transit system. Budget cuts threaten weekend and evening hour services.

PART 1 (0:14:57)

PART 2 (1:40:39)

Centro Cuts Capture

Please consider attending and testifying at an upcoming Public Hearing in your community, schedule here.

A “Convenient” Time for Community Feedback on Centro

In Government, Reader's Letter, Transportation on February 18, 2015 at 8:13 am

Note from the Author:

“Thank you for your work organizing writing for action. I look forward to the better letters of action and “yes! and!” mentality of the writers’ ideas, and your writing group meeting, and all of your experiences in political punditry (I just write and ride the bus. Thank you for understanding). I refused to wait until Centro found a “convenient” time for community feedback. Thank you for your time and attention. 

Sincerely, Amie St.Amour “

To Whom It May Concern:

I’m writing in response to the testimony of the Centro Executive of CNYRTA to the Senate Finance Committee & the Assembly Ways and Means Committee. I found the notice of the testimony posted on Centro’s website. I think that the community deserved notice to be actively involved in the prevention of Centro’s business model failure when there were clear warning signs. Was this not done in advance to protect the Executive’s job and pay in the disguise of protecting Centro employees’ jobs? Furthermore, did Centro fail to imagine resources that might be available, such as from Security, or Energy (having a “Green” building and some “Green” buses), or Destiny USA (as part of the settlement that led Destiny USA to continue), or even from Defense (the cross-county Centro routes serve many, and Veterans can only use the VA on Veteran’s Insurance)? Was he not interested in problem-solving if it meant accountability: the possibility of the Centro Executive’s personal losses? Now, the proposal to end service after 9 pm on weekdays and no service on Sundays is a form of racism and class warfare (whether or not there is proof that it was the Centro Executive’s intent).

I’m appalled that Centro’s announcement wasn’t one of increased service and commitment to righting wrongs in a city on the scale of Syracuse. In my opinion, the statement describes the Centro Executive’s complete lack of accountability, mentioning little of the City of Syracuse and the customers/riders. Each day people with budgets within “the skin of our teeth” depend on Syracuse having a transportation system. They had to buy bus parts? How many? Which ones? From where/who? Where are the receipts? Why should this be my problem after I paid fare to TAKE THE BUS? Now that emergency funds are needed, the community will be invited to respond, and they will update us as to when?!!

It should be reasonable in Syracuse to expect that in riding transit there will be lower risks than driving a car, and that the fares be less expensive than gas. The community was always there with questions. Although the transit isn’t as good, Syracuse, unlike New York City, had/has the opportunity to learn from the models of other cities like Charlotte, NC or Rochester, MN. The Executive had the opportunity to work with businesses, hospitals, and universities (some like SU with government contracts), to beg attention in advance to the needs of the community before this “Dead End” or pseudo ultimatum. Funds for Anti-terrorism, “Defense”, and “Security” seem to be the necessary fix for now, as other transit operations in the State are also struggling to be safe, let alone be of the 21st century and great minds of prevention.

Not only did the Centro Executive distract from his specific accountability or authority for apology, he didn’t use the opportunity, at the very least, to point to his “partners” in unaccountability in what happens to transit and why Centro is “safe” from bankruptcy, competition, and Anti-trust laws? He didn’t use the opportunity, at the very least, to point to anything that is working, from a skilled bus driver who makes sure everyone (including, but not limited to students) is safely off the bus before continuing to drive, or mentioning the statistics of on-time arrivals and departures.

This isn’t the best letter, but it has done more than the testimony of the Centro Executive that most likely made more in a year than I will in my life (some of it spent on Centro buses). Centro should be bailed out and it should be acknowledged by the City, or the State, or Federal governments (along with unpaid community voices), that this proposal is a form of racism and class warfare and also infringes on freedom of religion and separation of Church and State. And to add “insult to injury” of Centro raving over new maps! (at what cost?) on the website (while ignoring the simple confusion occurring when “buses continue on as other buses” and so don’t have the all the route numbers expected on the signs even after a rider doing the work of finding the way) Racism?!!! and Socio-economics?!!! is how the Centro Executive is now getting out of getting caught as the Centro Executive in charge of a failing business?! What a role model for how NOT to use time and records. Centro or CNYRTA should be held accountable in the future to make certain it is better.

Sincerely, A Citizen Bus Rider

Editor’s Note: Centro’s proposed changes are located at this link.  Please consider attending and testifying at an upcoming Public Hearing in your community, schedule here.  A Syracuse Common Council Committee Meeting about the cuts will also take place tomorrow, Thursday, Feb 19, 5:30 pm at City Hall.