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Regional Transit Service - Rochester NY (R-GRTA)


RailBus63
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Service changes are coming on Labor Day: https://myrts.com/preview

  • New route #23 to the Airport and Wegmans Distribution center
  • #18 Chili reduced to a local service route - most likely to make the #23 possible
  • Earlier start of service on inbound trips for some routes - no list was given but a schedule spot check looks like some routes gained an earlier AM trip, while others lost an early AM trip
  • Routes #11, #21, & #22 - last trips leaving downtown will now operate the full route
  • Commuter routes #93, #94, & #95 have been cancelled to repurpose the buses for use in On Demand zones 

There's a fair amount of 'this is what we've always done' thinking in transit planning and operations. It's good to see the staff being responsive to customer feedback and making decisions to steer the ship in the right direction. In the case of the #18/#23, some riders end up with less service but other riders have access to a whole new area that was left out of the system redesign. I think that's a fair tradeoff; a judgement call that undoubtedly will upset some, and those type of decisions can be hard to make.

They also posted detailed RCSD extra routes. They did this last school year, for the first time ever I think, with the one charter high school that had students attending in person. It's a long way from the days when these special routes were operated on a hush-hush basis. Like secret menus you'll find at fast food joints.

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50 minutes ago, orionbuslover said:

Service changes are coming on Labor Day: https://myrts.com/preview

  • New route #23 to the Airport and Wegmans Distribution center
  • #18 Chili reduced to a local service route - most likely to make the #23 possible

Didn't think that they would get away without service to the Rochester Airport for long.  Was surprised that this went on as long as it did.

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8 hours ago, map.man (Darrin) said:

Didn't think that they would get away without service to the Rochester Airport for long.  Was surprised that this went on as long as it did.

The redesign was finalized in 2018 or 19. It's surprising to me that this particular change just flew under the radar.

I'm sure Airport and Wegmans workers rallied for fixed service to be reinstated. I would've expected Wegmans and the Airport, especially, to be considered stakeholders during the planning of the redesign. They certainly should've made a bigger stink about not having fixed route service on behalf of their employees.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 9/4/2021 at 4:21 PM, edison said:

In the news, Rochester City Schools plan on starting school late for their high schools due to a shortage of school bus drivers. Does their school district no longer use RTS to transport high school students? Or is the shortage with RTS?

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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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?

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15 minutes ago, orionbuslover said:

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?

Feel bad for them, since they had just implemented their fall schedules within the past seven days.

Centro announced they are reverting to an "enhanced" Saturday schedule this weekend, too.

Just now, map.man (Darrin) said:

Feel bad for them, since they had just implemented their fall schedules within the past seven days.

Centro announced they are reverting to an "enhanced" Saturday schedule this weekend, too.

Locally (Buffalo), First Student allegedly had 30 drivers quit the day before classes, however, the number was dropped to 18 according to them.

Curious if Metro may have to help out in some form, eventually.

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28 minutes ago, map.man (Darrin) said:

Locally (Buffalo), First Student allegedly had 30 drivers quit the day before classes, however, the number was dropped to 18 according to them.

Curious if Metro may have to help out in some form, eventually.

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?

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11 minutes ago, orionbuslover said:

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?

There's a separate tier of routes with limited service in the 100's range.  Added service from the schools is also available in conventional routes and is supposed to be open door to conventional passengers too.

Metro's got it's share of troubles with many cancelled trips daily, and I'm betting they're struggling to meet the schedules when they can.  One recent weekday had nearly 60-70 trip cancellations for whatever reason.

With that being said, I've seen Metro attempt methods that other state agencies have implemented, and am curious if they just might a drastic drop in service to minimize lost runs from the schedules.

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44 minutes ago, map.man (Darrin) said:

Metro's got it's share of troubles with many cancelled trips daily, and I'm betting they're struggling to meet the schedules when they can.  One recent weekday had nearly 60-70 trip cancellations for whatever reason.

With that being said, I've seen Metro attempt methods that other state agencies have implemented, and am curious if they just might a drastic drop in service to minimize lost runs from the schedules.

The timing of all of this just really sucks. When things are inching toward normalcy, the changes in the workforce are creating new hardships.

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I world be very surprised if RTS isn't facing the same driver shortages that seemingly every other TA is dealing with.  This is an industry-wide problem affecting almost every agency and employer for bus and truck drivers.  The need to run a network of school services for one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon certainly doesn't help, especially when schools sometimes have half-days which would make a mess of any attempt to use those operators to run regular service in between the school runs.  

I'm also surprised to see that RTS requires new bus operator candidates to have a CDL already and isn't offering paid training to candidates with CDL permits like most other transit agencies. 

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2 hours ago, RailBus63 said:

I'm also surprised to see that RTS requires new bus operator candidates to have a CDL already and isn't offering paid training to candidates with CDL permits like most other transit agencies. 

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. 

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22 hours ago, map.man (Darrin) said:

Saw that it "could".

I'm curious if the new governor would do that, and it's worth mentioning, since another state has done it.  That makes it a "not unheard of" situation.

The Massachusetts example involved the guard personnel picking up school kids in smaller vehicles (10 passengers or less) to cover an acute shortage of school bus drivers.  Transit agencies in those same cities (notably Lawrence, which is MVRTA) have been canceling runs as well but are not receiving help.  The same shortages are happening on the school bus side in New York state.  I do not see Governor Hochul sending drivers to Centro or any other transit authority to help pick up suburban riders when school kids are going without rides.  Just my opinion. 

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  • 1 month later...

Oct 27 - NFI Group Inc.  announced a new order from Regional Transit Service (“RTS”) in Rochester, New York for 10 forty-foot Xcelsior CHARGE NG™ battery-electric heavy-duty transit buses. The purchase, made from a five-year contract established in 2019 with RTS, follows RTS’ 2020 order of 10 zero-emission Xcelsior CHARGE® transit buses and is supported by the Federal Transit Administration (“FTA”).

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