Repairing RIT's Connection to ROC

Photography by Alyssa Neff

​Students need transportation to leave the campus for a variety of reasons, including groceries and going out on the town. Options to venture beyond the campus are limited, especially for those without access to a car. Currently, there are no bus stops on the RIT campus that provide a direct path to the rest of the Regional Transit Service (RTS) routes around Rochester. 

An RTS bus stop existed on campus as recently as two years ago. However, the service ceased after RTS redesigned routes in 2021 to better accommodate the region it serves.

RTS provides buses to Monroe County and the surrounding counties, according to Tom Brede, the Public Information Officer. RTS operates on funding from the state government to provide transportation. 

John Connelly, director of Parking and Transportation at RIT, mentioned an option: "The RTS 14 connects with our one off campus shuttle over at the marketplace hub, and the total ride time in from downtown to here is about an hour."  

The transportation to campus from off-campus housing is a different priority. Joel Mazeika, the transportation services manager at RIT, oversees the shuttles RIT provides and hiring of bus drivers. Mazeika explained that his objective is to oversee "basically anything that has to do with the buses and the bus routes from an RIT Transdev point of view. I'm also responsible for our van charter fleet as well as drivers certifications."  Transdev is a company that runs public transportation and are in charge of hiring bus drivers.  

Buses are also provided to Park Point and Province under a contract with American Campus Communities, the company that owns the apartments. Mazeika elaborated that the contract is “to pay us to bring the buses to their complexes and what benefits them is they can say that it provides reliable transportation to and from the campus.”

The primary focus is "closing the gap between what RTS offers and how we get people to the campus from there," Connelly explained.  "Because a lot of our funding comes from student housing fees."  

Providing buses from RIT to the city is much more complicated, for reasons that range from finances to scheduling. Connelly shared that RIT has set up meetings with RTS recently to propose a possible route to relink the campus to the rest of Rochester through a partnership with local companies in the area.  "Hopefully if we can collaborate with them, and work with RTS to have a direct route from downtown to this area to include some of the facilities on John Street, if we can share those costs," Connelly said. John Street parallels the east boundary of the campus.  

“Those conversations [about reconnecting RTS] will continue progressing and we can start working together again sometime in the future,” said Brede.

There is no clear deadline for resolutions to arise based on these conversations. Many challenges are posed within the conversations, including how many days routes will run from RIT and the time of day they will occur.   These factors are important to note because RTS can only provide so many buses to run at one time as the other routes are working. 

"We are always receptive to ... hearing suggestions [for the routes]," Mazeika said. "We do take those under advisement."

"We're always willing to talk to anybody who needs help to see if we can find new and innovative ways of partnering together to try and find a way to meet people's transportation needs," Brede emphasized.  "We're not always able to, but we're always willing to talk to people to see if we can help be a part of the solution."

 "We're not always able to, but we're always willing to talk to people to see if we can help be a part of the solution."

In the meantime, RTS On Demand is an option for getting off campus. RTS On Demand is an app that offers rides similar to Uber or Lyft. The app is available for download on the App Store or Google Play. Users can also call RTS.

"Each ride costs $1 a ride, just like our regular bus services," Brede explained. RTS On Demand has a limit of $3 a day for a rider meaning any ride for that day afterward would be free. The maximum cost a month is 56 dollars

While a campus as isolated as RIT can offer some allure like quiet and a sense of security, a trip off campus every once in a while is necessary for a variety of reasons.  The current lack of immediate transportation to Rochester is unsurprisingly linked to the costs of providing buses.  Whatever the reason may be, students with no access to a car are deprived of the experiences the city of Rochester offers.