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Credit; City of Rochester

Credit; City of Rochester


Recently-released census data shows some small changes in commuting over time.

There were more people driving alone to work in 2000 than 2013. In 2000, 82 percent of workers – 283,062 people – drove alone to work. That compares to 80 percent in 2013, or 280,819 people. This is interesting because we’re spending $100 million to revamp the Rochester-Brighton-Henrietta 390 corridor, even though there do not appear to be more cars on the road.

Carpooling was more popular in 2000 than 2013. In 2000, 8.4 percent of workers. In 2013, 7.8 percent shared rides to work. But carpooling was only at 7 percent in 2006, so perhaps it’s picking up speed.

Commute times are the same. In 2000, the average commute was 19.6 minutes. In 2013, the average commute was 19.7 minutes.

Credit: City of Rochester

Credit: City of Rochester

More people are taking the bus to work. In 2000, 2.7 percent of workers took public transportation. In 2013, 3.4 percent of workers – nearly 12,000 people – took the bus to work.

More people are walking to work. In 2000, 3.4 percent of people walked to work. In 2013, 3.8 percent of people – more than 13,000 – got to work on two legs.

More people are biking to work. The number of people who bike to work is at a paltry .4 percent. But that’s 1,544 people riding their bicycles to work, up from 1,099 in 2006. Nearly half live in the city. (Before you question bike lanes, consider the fact many more people ride purely for recreation and exercise.)

More people work at home. In 2000, 2.7 percent of people worked at home. In 2013, 3.4 percent – nearly 12,000 people – work at home.

In our car-centric city, it’s worth noting that 1 in 8 people gets to work by walking, biking or riding the bus. That means more than 26,000 people will likely have to cross the road in front of your car and share the road with your car. Let’s be sure to watch out for them.

Update: Some are asking whether the workforce was bigger in 2000. According to the census, there were 345,019 people 16 and over commuting to work in 2000, compared to 349,802 in 2013.


Links of the Day:


– Throwing money at developers doesn’t create new business. It moves business around. Here’s a good Rochester example.

– American sports franchises are selling their cities short. Stadiums are not good investments!

– Wow. Cuomo and Hochul spent $5.9 million on the primary.

– A University of Wisconsin fraternity is suspected of drugging women at a party.

– This essay from New York Times columnist Charles Blow about sexual abuse, sexuality and learning to love himself is painfully honest and quite beautiful.


Help Fight Poverty:


Women's Foundation logoIf you like my blog posts, we can chat about them in person! Consider joining my team on October 26 for the Women’s Foundation of Genesee Valley 5k and Walk. Donations of any amount – no matter how small – would also be appreciated. I am the honorary chair of this event. The Women’s Foundation helps women and girls become economically self-sufficient. It’s a great organization that deserves more attention for its important work in Rochester.

Would you take the bus to work if it was easier? How about free?

People don’t use public transit because it takes too long to reach a destination, they have to transfer buses, the times are not convenient or the bus stops are not near their homes. People also like to run errands before and after work. Those are all very legitimate reasons not to take the bus.

But not everyone can feasibly drive to work at the University of Rochester. It has more than 20,000 workers and it’s growing. Parking is finite. Roads are jammed. Not everyone has a vehicle. Not everyone wants a vehicle. Gas is expensive. It hurts the environment.

The College Town project on Mt. Hope Ave. was supposed to have a transit center. But it was scrapped. Meanwhile the college is pushing for its own personal $100 million exit ramp on 390. Given that heaps of (unnecessary?) tax dollars are going into College Town, I called the transportation priorities a travesty.

My faith has been somewhat restored, although I still think the onramp project is ridiculous. The U of R and RGRTA are partnering to get more workers to take the bus. I did this story for 13WHAM:

“We’re partnering with them to make the destinations easier to get to and to make a way to view public transportation much more attractive,” said RGRTA CEO Bill Carpenter.

RGRTA visited the University of Washington in Seattle, which pays for workers to use the bus. RGRTA and the U of R are studying where workers live and where routes make the most sense. It’s possible some routes could bypass the downtown transfer point.


“What we will be doing is making it easier for them, whether it’s how our routes are designed or how the fare is paid,” said Carpenter. “We like people to get to work. We’re going to try to make it more convenient. We will make it more convenient for them.”

This is a positive development. It make sense to make public transit more user friendly for the area’s largest employer. Not everyone will choose to take the bus. But there could be an arterial in the city or suburbs where it makes sense for RGRTA to run a direct route to the college. At this point, the entities are figuring out demand. It’s a smart way to approach how to service the customer.

The suburbanization of jobs means public transportation is not an option for many workers.

The Brookings Institution found only two-thirds of jobs in the Rochester metropolitan region are in places served by buses. Even worse, fewer than one-third of residents can get to a job within 90 minutes on a bus. The study found people have an easier time getting to jobs in the city than in the suburbs.

Brookings did a similar study last year showing the disconnect between public transit and jobs. If people don’t have access to jobs, they their options for employment and upward mobility are limited. Companies also risk not having access to a wider pool of labor.

The Rochester Genesee Transportation Authority has worked with suburban employers on routes. Some companies and nursing homes pay RGRTA a share of the cost. But RGRTA has been clear that if a route isn’t economically feasible, it won’t run. That’s provoked a lot of criticism from riders, but RGRTA is also solidly running in the black and has maintained fares at $1.

The authors recommend locating jobs in denser areas and improving access to suburban jobs. The study also suggests incentivizing companies to locate in areas served by public transit. Government and business should talk about jobs access when relocation issues come up.

Links of the Day:

– Leo Roth brings up an old debate (if you listen to Bob Matthews’ show) about whether Rochester has too many sports teams. If the market will bear these teams, who cares?

A former state lawmaker says Cuomo should go for it in 2016.

– Take note, Rochester Police Department. Courts are increasingly skeptical of “stop and frisk,” also known as “Cool Down.”

– This might be the most obnoxious thing you read today. A young woman laments being so successful so young. And her idol is Carrie Bradshaw. Don’t worry, baby, your hard times will come.

– Last night I struck up a conversation with a British man who says he holds the patent on armored underwear worn by soldiers. The items are made by people with disabilities at the Seneca Army Depot. Who knew?