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VanpoolMore Rochesterians carpool to work than you might think. According to the U.S. Census, 8 percent of workers in the region carpooled in 2013. That’s about 42,000 people. That’s more than take the bus to work.

That’s probably why Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority is studying the idea of a “vanpool.” RGRTA would contract with an operator who has a fleet of SUVs or vans. A designated passenger would have possession of the van and pick up people on the way to work. There are typically 5 to 12 people in a vanpool.

In Dallas, passengers split the charge of $335 a month. The service picks up insurance and vehicle costs. There are also tax incentives for commuters.

The census shows long commutes are not an issue for Rochester carpoolers; it doesn’t take them much longer to get to work. But Rochester’s carpoolers are poor, as two-thirds earn less than $35,000. Only 8 percent of carpoolers don’t have a vehicle available, suggesting a family member may need the car or they want to save on gas and car maintenance. Many carpoolers work in education, health care, social services and the service industry, according to the census.

The census didn’t ask if carpoolers how much they have to pay for parking at work. That’s an issue for workers at downtown garages and the University of Rochester.

RGRTA wants to know what you think of the vanpooling concept in this survey.

In a statement CEO Bill Carpenter said, “Transit agencies in the U.S. are finding that vanpool services can complement existing bus routes and expand transit services by offering a substitute method of travel to common destinations. The purpose of this study is to determine the feasibility of a vanpool program capable of linking commuters from similar origins to similar destinations throughout the Rochester area.”


Links of the Day:


– Assemblyman David Gantt’s bill would allow self-driving cars.

– This is what the new state senate boss is saying when he’s not saying anything.

What’s really ailing America’s cities?

– A Rochester charter school is under scrutiny for being too white and too middle class.

Buffalo only gives its schools $70 million. (Meanwhile, Rochester, a smaller city, is required by law to give its schools $119 million.)

– Rochester is slated to get a “pedal tour” this summer. It’s a bike party bus thing.

– Syracuse is getting a dinner-movie theater. (I wonder if this would work at Midtown.)

Credit: City of Rochester

Credit: City of Rochester

The U.S. Census came out with a report this week showing a greater percentage of Rochesterians walk to work than the national average. The data was based on census surveys between 2008 and 2012.

In the city of Rochester, 6.2 percent of people walk to work. That ranks us 15th among large cities in the percentage of walkers. In Monroe County, 3.3 percent of commuters walk to work. The national average for walking to work is 2.8 percent.

The report also shows bicycling is on the rise in Monroe County. In 2000, .2 percent of workers biked to their jobs. In 2012, .7 percent did. The national average is .6 percent. The number of bicycle commuters nationwide went up 60 percent over the last decade.

(Check out this cool interactive map of commuting in the U.S. You can drill down to census tracts.)

The number of people who bike and walk to work remains low around the country, but has increased steadily increased steadily in recent years. More than 80 percent of us still drive alone to work, but there are good reasons to support alternative modes of transportation. Walking and biking is good for your health and cuts down on pollution, traffic congestion and wear on roads.

Of course, not everyone can ditch driving to work. But there are people who want to. Studies show Millennials want to live in places where they don’t have to rely on cars. This generation wants walkable cities.

This has implications for Rochester, which is designing streets to be more friendly to bicycles and pedestrians. It has implications for where we build things, too. It also has implications for drivers, as they get used to sharing the road. (Drivers through Pittsford are now learning this.)


Links of the Day:


– Albany’s mayor wants red light cameras. Meanwhile, Assemblyman David Gantt submitted a bill to renew Rochester’s program.

– Governor Cuomo’s spokesman really stepped in it this week.

– The legacy of Rochester’s Ramon Santiago is caught up in a criminal case and family feud.

Secret fraternities at University of Buffalo.

– The number of “dead malls” has nearly tripled since 2006.

– Why Hooters wants Bob Duffy to pay them a visit.

– People name their kids after Game of Thrones characters.

The Genesee Transportation Council did a survey of local travel, including modes of transportation, number of miles, number of trips and attitudes about public transit.

The late-2011 Internet and phone survey of 3,671 households in Monroe, Livingston, Ontario and Wayne counties is rather fascinating.

Nine percent of respondents said they walked, biked or rode the bus regularly. Of those who did not, 40 percent said they would seek alternatives to cars if gas prices hit $4.00 a gallon. That would be 114,000 commuters.

Twenty percent of people said gas would have to get up to $8.50 for them to consider another means of transportation. That’s a lot of people willing to shell out huge bucks to keep driving!

Not surprisingly, the more money people make, the higher gas prices would have to go for them to ditch their cars.

The majority of people said their “car is king.” White people earning more than $200,000 were most likely to agree with the statement.


The survey also found women are the errand-runners:

Women account for most trips, and the disparity with men is greatest at shorter distances. The necessity of juggling trips, here and nationally, falls mainly to women. Women are far more likely than men to make multiple stops — called trip chaining — on their way to or from home. This is significant because we have been witnessing a feminization of poverty” in America over the past two decades, as more elderly women and single women with children of all races and ethnicities fall into poverty and the time and costs required by transportation become a significant burden.

 Links of the Day:

– None of the local political ads we’re seeing on television are up to snuff, according to this excellent fact-check.

– Only one thing is standing in Andrew Cuomo’s wayHillary Clinton.

– Buffalo college students keep getting beat up and robbed in late-night attacks.

– California is now allowing the sale of some homemade food.

The Genesee Transportation Council wants you to hitch a ride to work.

It has launched an online program called “Roceasyride,” designed to connect commuters interested in carpooling, bicycling and public transportation. Users create a profile to find matches and information. There’s a calculator to determine how much money you would save.

Fewer Rochesterians carpool these days, according to the census. Only 6.9 percent of us carpooled to work in 2010, down from 8.4 percent in 2000. Nationally, the carpooling rate also decreased in the last decade, from 12.6 to 10.1 percent. In 1980, 15 to 20 percent of Rochesterians shared rides.

Experts attribute the decline to jobs spread out in the suburbs, cheaper cars, flexible working schedules and more people working at home.

I think job sprawl is the factor that could make this carpooling initiative more difficult. Job sprawl has also made access to public transportation hard. Jobs used to be clustered in the city. A Brookings Institution study found 100 percent of city residents live near a bus stop, but only half can get to a job in a 90-minute-or-less bus ride. In the suburbs, only half of residents live near a bus stop and even fewer can get to work in a reasonable time period.

The average commute time is 19.1 minutes and it would likely get longer if we leave our cars in the driveway every morning.

Still, Roceasyride could be helpful for many people who want to save on gas and help the environment. Would you consider creating a profile?