The Student News Site of State University of New York at Brockport

The Stylus

The Stylus

The Stylus

From Rochester to Brockport: public transportation is inefficient 

RTS OnDemand Vehicle; photo credit: Sarah Killip

College students, whether 17 or 21, shouldn’t be expected to own a vehicle and pay to keep it on campus. Simple as that. But how are students supposed to travel from place to place, get groceries, attend internships or go downtown on the weekend? They’re not walking, that’s for sure. 

SUNY Brockport offers a great means for transportation around campus and within the village through the Eagle Run shuttle, but what about transportation to Rochester? The city is not only the hub of nightlife, weekend activities and outings with friends, but it also presents the opportunity to enhance students’ studies. Rochester offers many internships that give Brockport students real world experiences, professional connections and insight to which direction they may wish to take their career. 

To test out the ease of this system and see if it’s actually useable for Brockport students, I decided to travel from my home in Webster to Brockport’s campus via bus. Brockport does not provide a direct route from campus into the city, or vice versa, however, there are some options available to piece together this route. Rochester’s RTS (Regional Transit Service) provides a network of buses that can shuttle individuals around downtown. 

The central hub, where all frequent and local bus routes begin and end, is the RTS Transit Center, located on St. Paul Street in Rochester. From here, the buses disperse over 25 available routes throughout the city and into most of Monroe County. They eventually reach one of the 10 available connection hubs, which allow passengers to schedule and board an RTS On Demand vehicle. Essentially, it’s the end of the line for the bigger scheduled buses and an opportunity for passengers to travel further in a smaller vehicle. These vehicles will take riders to any destination they desire within one of the seven On Demand zones: Brockport, Henrietta, Greece, Irondequoit, Lexington, Pittsford/Eastview and Webster.  

It sounds pretty simple and well thought out. RTS offers detailed maps and instructions regarding all routes and shuttles on their website. They also recommend that users download the Transit app for real-time scheduled bus updates and the RTS On Demand app to schedule shuttle vehicles and watch for arrival updates.  

My initial thoughts were, “ya know, it’s going to be nice not putting the miles on my car and using all that gas.” Those thoughts soon changed.  

1:24 p.m. I parked my car at the Walmart a mile down the road from my house and waited on a park bench for RTS route number 7. Baytown Plaza to the transit center downtown. When the bus arrived, the driver informed me that a day pass cost three bucks or each ride cost a dollar. Knowing I’d be on more than three buses, I bought the day pass.  

“You got enough money, ma’am?” the man boarding with me said. “Oh yeah, I’m all set,” I replied. He continued, “I was going to say I could help you out if you needed. I don’t drink no more.”  

It smelled like spices. I don’t know how else to describe it. I smelled oregano and chili flakes. I sat in the middle, and the man I boarded with sat in the back singing a tune for a little while. We picked up a few others along the route; one individual approached me and told me I looked like someone she knew named Norma. I admired the lady as she sat holding a couple of flowers in her hands–the kind of flowers that most would consider to be weeds.  

2:00 p.m. It would have taken me 17 minutes to drive from my house to the transit center. I was on the bus for 30 minutes. Not bad considering I didn’t have to find parking downtown or use my own vehicle. It wasn’t hard to navigate the center. The Transit app told me my next bus was at gate 11, so to gate 11 I went. I boarded the number 19 route to the Rochester Tech Park connection hub (this is the closest connection point to Brockport). 

A RTS bus; photo credit: Sarah Killip

The first thing I did was try to schedule RTS On Demand, (which I’m going to refer to as the on-demand van), for pickup at the Tech Park. Number 19 was scheduled to arrive at the connection hub at 2:30 p.m., and using the app RTS recommended, the earliest I could book an on-demand van was 2:45 p.m. I scheduled the ride, and it told me I’d be picked up at 3:15 p.m. I’m not sure how it jumped 30 minutes in time, but at least it was scheduled.  

2:30 p.m. Whatever the Rochester Tech Park is, I had made it there. It looked like an abandoned parking lot, and I sat there alone waiting for the van. Usually, it takes me 40 minutes to get to campus, so if I drove, I would have been there 20 minutes ago.  

3:07 p.m. An on-demand van arrived! I walked up to talk to the driver, and she told me that the van wasn’t for me. She looked at my scheduled ride and informed me she didn’t know where it was. Very helpful. Back to the curb I went. 

3:14 p.m. I finally received a text through the app saying my van will arrive in 30 minutes. 30 minutes?? 

3:30 p.m. At this point, there have been three vans and none of them were mine. The app boasts that passengers can schedule in advance, but it doesn’t seem to work that way. I tried to schedule my ride back home to make sure this debacle wouldn’t happen again, and the app wouldn’t allow it because I already had one ride booked. 

3:38 p.m. Finally, I’m in a Chevy van numbered 2081. The driver had to make three stops along the way to Brockport. Touchdown in front of Holmes Hall: 4:06 p.m. 

While I enjoyed the ease of the RTS buses, scheduling a van was not efficient whatsoever. If I had scheduled a firm meeting time or was going from Brockport to Rochester for an internship, I would have been late. Honestly, I probably would have missed the entire appointment. It took me two and a half hours on public transportation compared to what would have been a 40-minute drive. I decided against getting stranded in a parking lot again on the way back home, so I had my mother come pick me up from school. 

Navigating these routes would have been challenging without a smart phone, which doesn’t seem fair to require of college students either. According to Brockport’s Parking and Transportation services, the college used to offer a shuttle that ran regularly into Rochester.  

“There weren’t enough riders and there didn’t seem to be enough need for the shuttle, and then COVID-19 happened, and it wasn’t brought back. We also used to offer bus passes for RTS, but students weren’t using them,” Chris Martinez, Parking Systems Support Specialist, said. 

Brockport does offer a program called Eagle Lift Assist which helps provide students with funding to seek means of transportation.  

“BSG is in charge of Eagle Lift Assist, but we help fund it; it’s a scholarship for students who need assistance getting downtown for any academic reason– internships, class, academic assistance, mentors, that kind of stuff,” Martinez said. “Anyone can apply for the scholarship, it’s just an application. You just have to explain why you need it, and recipients receive 100 dollars to use toward RTS, Uber, Lyft, carpooling or whatever service they use to get downtown.” 

The funds from Eagle Lift Assist can be used within a 40-mile radius of Brockport and within the time frame of 6:45 a.m. to 10 p.m. Brockport also offers Rideshare, a statewide program. Students, faculty and staff can sign up through Brockport’s Rideshare Portal to be connected with other individuals on campus who share similar schedules. These programs can be accessed through Brockport’s transportation page.  

“If you think there would be interest for a shuttle, we can put out a survey again to gage how many students would use it. If there is a lot of interest, it’s something we can look into bringing back,” Martinez said. 

Expressing interest in public transportation services from Brockport to Rochester would not only ensure more efficient and reliable transportation for those who need it but would widen the opportunities that are accessible and available for Brockport students. 

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Stylus

Your donation will support the student journalists of State University of New York at Brockport. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Stylus

Comments (0)

All The Stylus Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *