By Jim Krencik
Medina Journal-Register — ALBION — On a day where such structures would be highly beneficial, officials from the Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority discussed the progress made to add bus shelters and a new maintenance facility in Orleans County.
The regional transportation provider plans to add four shelters along highly-trafficked bus stops in the coming months, with the $1.8 million garage complex scheduled to begin construction in two years.
RGRTA CEO Bill Carpenter was among a cavalcade of officials to come in from the nasty late-winter weather to speak with county legislators before the board’s regular meeting. Carpenter told legislators that the authority is seeing more riders across it’s seven-county kingdom as both baby boomers and young workers opt to live without cars.
”We’ve had record ridership across our markets as the cost of driving a car increases,” Carpenter said.
Locally, the decade-old Orleans Transportation Service set a new single-day ridership record earlier this month and has seen March ridership increase by 19 percent compared to last year. The service’s seven buses are projected to have brought more than 35,000 riders to work, school, shopping or medical sites.
The authority is planning to construct a new building near the county highway department in Albion that would provide indoor bus maintenance and storage as well as offices.
RGRTA Director of Engineering Mark Ballerstein said the authority has received grant funding for preliminary design work, which will begin next month, as well as environmental review and final design work. Ballerstein said the environmental review should be completed next year, with the project commencing in the spring of 2015.
Bus shelters will arrive sooner. Legislator and OTS Commissioner Henry Smith Jr. said bus shelters at the county administration building and on Route 98 outside of Rite Aid will be in place this spring. Additional sites are being examined in Medina and Holley.
”They’ll be very well received,” said Smith, who noted that the growing ridership is allowing the service to operate more efficiently. “Our ridership is increasing, but the challenge is to get to all of our customers. There’s still some people who don’t know about the service.”
OTS provides fixed-route services in both Medina and Albion and regularly-scheduled transportation between the two villages in addition to specialty services to transport riders on a requested route at a negligible cost.
Legislator George Bower questioned the financial viability of routes that service a limited number of riders across the county.
”How can you afford to pick up one person and take them to work for 10 years,” charged Bower, who noted that costs to provide the service come in part from residents who may never use it.
OTS Manager Patterson noted in response that the dial-a-ride service is designed to provide the same availability to all county residents. He said using smaller vehicles for the service, which is used by around 20 people each day, is being considered to reduce costs.
Patterson said the service is looking to add more partnerships with local businesses and enhance the compacts it has with county agencies.
Those actions would increase local revenues, which are dwarfed by contributions from regional and state sources. According to RGRTA CFO Scott Adair, OTS covered a $483,000 operating deficit through funding from the regional authority and government subsidies.Contact reporter Jim Krencik at 798-1400, ext. 6327.