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orionbuslover

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  1. The remodeled CNG tank is a nice improvement.
  2. This is ushering a new era for the fleet. They've always maintained a very diverse fleet. When the fleet was mostly Orions they still had Nova RTS's, New Flyers, and Gilligs. With the oldest Orions and MCIs to be replaced with Gillings, only the 2012 Orions would remain. The multi year contract with options for Gillig presumably means they'll have a 100% Gillig fleet in a few years.
  3. The Nova's look great! Their design has stood the test of time. I'm OK with the all white look. The size and placement of the side letters definitely clash with the look. Smaller letters placed at the top of the bus near the bus number would, and only once for 60 footers, would keep more in line with the all white look.
  4. Centro has announced a new fare structure: https://www.centro.org/about-Centro/meetings-and-events The big changes are transfers have been eliminated, the fare is reduced to $1 (all cities now have $1 fare), the day pass has been reduced to $4 (the cost of a round-trip now that transfers have been eliminated), and the fare from SYR to/from Auburn and Oswego is now $3. Great simplification of the fare system overall. Steps in the right direction to entice riders back.
  5. Centro's operator shortage has stabilized enough that they are moving from the enhanced Saturday schedule to a modified weekday schedule on 11/8. Some level of service will return to all routes as well as earlier AM service on existing routes. Midday service on "core" city routes will also be increased. The normal Saturday schedule always made use of short turns to have mostly 20min headways late morning through early evenings on some city routes. This was maintained in the enhanced Saturday schedule. The new modified weekday schedule expands upon that service model with the addition of short trips to more city routes. There's even a new short turn for route #52 Court St. - the #252 that ends at Grant Blvd. As they recover their staffing levels, hopefully Centro can continue the service model of offering 20min headways on city routes well into the future. It's a good start to a more frequent system.
  6. Very nice pictures! I spent the last week of August in the Twin Cities. One of those days, I took the Blue Line to MoA. When arriving at the Bloomington stop, a young kid maybe 7 or 8 and traveling with his father, got so excited seeing all the "old" buses lined up.
  7. I think most American transit system offers some type of extra service for students. In more robust systems, they can simply add an extra trip or two on routes that serve schools. In smaller, less comprehensive systems, you'll see a network of special transit routes that zigzag all over the city that start/end at the school. Some agencies have a mix of both approaches. Either way, the driver shortage that's affecting both yellow bus companies and transit agencies won't simply be solved by shifting drivers from one employer to another. A very real limiting factor for both school districts that hire drivers directly and transit agencies is the background check. It's strigent. I know no public official will publicly admit this, but those willing to work part-time for roughly $15-20/hr., tend to have a greater chance of a checkered past that would disqualify them from employment.
  8. In business, management needs to do way more than complain about their constraints/hardships. Especially, if the issue is a dwindling workforce. The "busy" routes run every 40min midday, but many routes run every 80mins. With all routes running 80mins after 6PM. When they can't fill all the runs on any particular route, there could easily be a 1hr20min or 2hr40min wait for the next bus. I originally posted on here about the issue before the "enhanced" schedules came out and was operating under the assumption some level of service would operate on all routes and reliability would improve. Now I know that's not the case. The decisions that Centro has made over the years have caused them to become irrelevant. Centro leader's haven't changed their thinking to keep up with the times, but that's Syracuse in general. Being a rust belt city, in decline for so long, a lot of people there don't think they should have nice things. I was there for the Fair this year, and driving on 81 & 690, I realized how outdated and substandard those roads really are. Syracuse deserves to have an interstate system built to modern standards and if the viaduct has to come down as part of the upgrade, then so be it. It's disconcerting because Syracuse is a high poverty city and a quality public transit system would improve the quality of life for so many people. Instead, for many people no matter their income, having a car is a necessity in Syracuse. Let's not even get into the fact that one must travel to the outskirts of town or suburbs for a decent grocery store, Walmart, or Target. I'll be fair to Centro and admit that a lot of the duplication is due to the geography and the built environment of Syracuse. The main streets all pretty much lead downtown, so it's only natural Centro runs parallel routes that overlap closer to downtown. But there's nothing stopping Centro from introducing more direct/crosstown routes in the city. The real inefficiency comes from the obsession with the line-up. Forcing all the buses to arrive downtown at the same time inherently causes inefficiency due to the long layovers needed for the routes to sync up downtown. I've had several friends and family members drive for Centro over the years. I've seen their paddles. A 20min layover after a 25min in-service trip is ridiculous. That heavy padding of the schedules is literally pouring money down the drain, as drivers (the biggest cost) get paid whether they're driving or sitting around doing nothing. All in the name of being back downtown at some arbitrary time. Centro could provide immensely more in-service trips if it tightened up its schedules and gets rid of the line-ups. That's how CDTA vehicles are able to travel almost double the annual vehicle miles for the same budget as Centro. If someone has to transfer downtown and wait for their next bus, atleast there's a transit center to wait at nowadays. SU pays full price for their routes. And the shuttles only exist to address their bonehead decision to build South Campus in the first place. So, if SU wants to shell out that money for shuttles, I can't really complain. 50 - It's an express bus to the mall that saves like 5-7mins over the N Salina bus. Moving those resources to another route that lost service is the right move. 76 - serves Lemoyne College and a low income housing complex located across the street. It makes more sense to continue to serve those populations then the more affluent population near E Genesee in the city and suburbs who really don't ride the bus anyway. 52/80 - The northside of Syracuse has always been where immigrants coming to Syracuse land. For the last 20+ years, refugees from Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa have called the northside home. On a map those routes look duplicative, but they are both very much needed.
  9. While it is a nationwide, industry problem, I'm not aware of any other agency that has had to make such drastic cuts to address their driver shortage. I'm aware of several agencies that are apparently staffed well enough, that they restored Covid related service cuts with their recent Fall service changes. One local article reports Centro needs 190 drivers to operate normal weekday service and needs to hire roughly 60 drivers to be in the clear. The alarm bells should've been ringing loud and non-stop way before they were short 30% of their needed manpower. Increased pay and sign-on bonuses need to be a real consideration at this point. Otherwise, service won't realistically be restored this year. And, when service is restored, Centro will still operate roughly half the service of CDTA in Albany for the SAME price: https://www.osc.state.ny.us/reports/upstate-transportation-authorities-suffer-revenue-plunge. Centro's structural inefficiency/incompetence really is glaring; not hard to miss at all. The lack of concern from both community and elected leaders on this issue and so many other issues that affect life in Syracuse, really makes me wonder if there's anybody actually steering the ship?
  10. I noticed that too. Definitely makes them an outlier amongst other transit agencies. But they have plenty of company amongst employers who require their entry level candidates to be over quified.
  11. The timing of all of this just really sucks. When things are inching toward normalcy, the changes in the workforce are creating new hardships.
  12. Centro was forced to reduce service due to their own driver shortage. With mostly 40/80min base service, the random cancelled trips each day made the system very unreliable. Hopefully, they'll be able to fill all the enhanced Saturday runs. RTS hasn't publicly said they have a driver shortage and are basically responding to the yellow bus driver shortage. I read a Democrat and Chronicle article that explains lax enrollment boundaries (to encourage desegregation in the past and now due to so many schools being in state receivership with parents able to choose whatever school they like), unsafe walking routes, and a strong desire to not have high schoolers congregrating downtown all factor into the high number of buses, routes, and drivers needed. Like RTS operates an extensive number of trippers for each school, probably more than what's really needed. What's your take on the situation in Buffalo? I'm assuming they handle school trippers similar to Centro and RTS?
  13. The new schedules are posted. With trippers now being provided to all high schools; all but one regular frequent route lost its 15min frequency for the entirety of the day. I can understand those routes losing their frequency in the early AM & PM periods when the trippers are operating, but cutting the service outside of those times seems rather drastic. I wonder what the constraints are that forced the mid-day regular cuts? Maybe some stipulation of the union contract or management's way of slipping in a hopefully temporary service cut due to lower pandemic ridership?
  14. Centro will institute an "enhanced Saturday" schedule beginning 9/13 due to its driver shortage. New schedules aren't out yet, but school trips will stay and SU campus shuttles will end at 8PM. With ridership being down, I guess this isn't the worst move. Hopefully, the service becomes more reliable. It really speaks volumes to the times we're living through, dealing with the pandemic. Being a city bus driver has always been a tough gig due to both internal and external factors. Even before the pandemic, you had to have a true passion for the job to make a career out of it. For others, it was just a way to pay the bills. But now, people are clearly saying the pay isn't worth it.
  15. They still use RTS to transport many students: https://myrts.com/Secondary-Nav/Newsroom/Enjoy-the-Ride/Article/343/Get-to-School-with-RTS. I'm guessing this is a shortage of yellow bus drivers. Even with RTS direct routes, some high schoolers still qualify for yellow bus transportation for various reasons. Looks like the school district rather have remote learning for all, than a subset of students not being able to attend school. EDIT: this article gives more updated details: https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.democratandchronicle.com/amp/5745392001. Alot of things at play here: 1. High schools won't start remote, but the first day has been pushed for all students to this Thursday, giving officials a few more days to figure something out. 2. RTS historically provided transportation to all high schools. The school district felt they were being overcharged, so when the last RTS contract expired, they split the work between RTS and yellow bus companies for this school year. Very bad timing for that move given the nationwide driver shortage. That's why the link to RTS direct routes above doesn't list service for all high schools. Before hearing about this driver shortage and contract changes; I wondered why the smaller high schools didn't have direct RTS service. I figured those kids would get bus passes and use the regular routes. Now, I realize those smaller high schools were set to be served by yellow bhses. 3. Over the weekend, 20 more yellow bus drivers quit, causing issues for the younger students. In NY, the state reimburses the school district all transportation costs for students that live 1.5 miles or more from school. School districts are not obligated to provide transportation for students who live less than 1.5 miles from school. But many still do and Rochester seems to be one of them. From the article, younger students at select schools who live less than 1.5 miles from school are being asked to walk or dropped off by parents. 4. For now, RTS will provide direct service for the high schools that were contracted to the yellow bus providers.
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