During the pandemic, there was drop in ridership on public transportation throughout upstate New York, but it wasn’t as steep as you might think. 

In Rochester, for example, the Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority saw an approximately 50% decrease in usage. But the 50% of riders who continued using public transit were nurses, grocery workers, home healthcare professionals, and other essential workers – which transit advocates say illustrates just how vital public transportation is to our communities.

The CEO of the Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority, and president of the New York Public Transit Association, Bill Carpenter, discussed upstate transit’s funding requests with Capital Tonight host Susan Arbetter.

According to Carpenter, upstate transit agencies are looking for a 50% increase in funding over five years, or 10% per year.

“The generation of buses today is not your parents’ bus,” Carpenter explained. “As we move to electric it’s great for the climate, the technology gets on the buses so you can see where the bus is while you’re riding on it. There’s a touchless payment system. It’s a whole different experience.”