The Regional Transit Service (RTS) Transit Center opened effortlessly Nov. 28, offering special comforts like heated floors, trip planning kiosks, and ticket vending machines to customers, as well as free rides from the center through Dec. 31, officials said.
And, according to RTS Transit Center Director Jim Ramos, from the beginning, he anticipated nothing less.
“I do anticipate a smooth opening,” Ramos said during a tour of the $50 million facility prior to its grand opening. “It’s a new facility. It’s all new to everyone. I’m sure there’re going to be a lot of questions, and we’ve been getting a good amount of folks walking through, so we’ve been able to help them with all of that.”
The center opened its doors at 4:30 a.m. Friday morning, with the first bus departing from a shelter on Mortimer St., the block the building spans between Saint Paul St. and N. Clinton Ave., at 5 a.m.
RTS employees had been on-hand to help customers navigate the new center, which has been equipped to accommodate 100 buses per hour, and more than 20,000 RTS customers daily, Ramos stated.
In addition, the center featured large electronic displays of departure times; customer information desks; on-site security; and ADA compliant features for customers with disabilities, among other services.
RTS CEO Bill Carpenter had also been on-site to welcome customers from 4 a.m. until 12 p.m., while the company offered giveaways to its first 500 passengers.
According to Ramos, RTS also held several open houses the week prior to the center’s Black Friday opening, in order to give customers a chance to become familiar with the new facility, as well as to find out how changes to schedules and bus routes would work.
For example, since RTS’ schedules and routes had been revamped in accordance with the opening of the new center, all bus routes would now begin, and end, at the terminal, he stated.
As a result, customers who may have previously been able to ride a bus from one end of its route to the other, for one dollar, would now have to transfer to a new bus, and, ultimately, Ramos said; pay an additional fare at the center, instead.
But, according to Daniele Coll-Gonzalez, chief operating officer of the Rochester-Genesee Regional Transportation Authority, only a small percentage of customers should end up having to pay the extra fare, which doesn’t go into effect until January 2015.
“We know that about seven percent or less of our customers rode from one end of the line to the other,” Coll-Gonzalez stated. “We know that 93 percent of the people we serve don’t have that issue. We’re encouraging people who have that issue to buy an all-day pass, which is $3 per pass. So, we are trying to offer them solutions that will help mitigate that.”
Coll-Gonzalez also said RTS currently has no plans to increase bus fares to offset costs for the center, which has currently been operating under RGRTA’s total $84 million operating budget this year.
“We’re planning on operating the transit center within our existing means,” she stated.
Nonetheless, Coll-Gonzalez said riders can enjoy traveling fare-free from the transit center for the rest of this year, as they continue to become accustomed to the new facility.
And, as people become more familiar with the new center, she said RGRTA plans to begin work on its next project, the RGRTA Administration building, by early next year.
“Our plans have pretty much been completed, so at this point we’re ready to just get everything up and running in a smooth way,” Coll-Gonzalez stated. “Next, we will begin our campus improvement projects at 1372 E. Main St. We’ll begin that work in January 2015. We have several improvements that we’ll be making, including expanding the campus, a new service building, and the renovating of our operations building. There are substantial amounts of improvements planned that will take several years to complete, but we’ll begin that work in January.”
For additional fare and schedule information, or to download the RTS app, visit http://www.myrts.com/transitcenter