Economy Politics

Intermodal in Rochester: We’re Giving Up a Big Audience

I think that, generally, most people in Rochester would be inclined to either fly or drive to a long-distance destination. That’s always been my impression, anyway, having spoken at some length with, you know, people and such. Shorter distances are almost certainly to be traveled in the comfort of your own car, or for want of a car, the Greyhound works just fine. But having only two days visiting the Rochester Amtrak station to base this on, my sense is that very few people are aware that there is a station in Downtown, and less actually use it for anything.

Out of a completely random sense of adventure, I took a trip to Kansas City, MO when I was 25. Just by myself, and only because I had a week of shut-down at my job as a machinist for Rochester Instrument Systems with nothing to do. Good times, lots of fun, but that’s probably for another article. What matters is: I discovered an entire ecosystem of passengers, porters and bartenders (loved the bartenders) that I’d never known existed.

And just how many of them there are might surprise you. According to the Department of Transportation website, the Empire Service which runs between New York City and Buffalo and is part of the Lakeshore Limited Amtrak service sees as many as 1.6 million passengers a year.

So, when we discuss intermodal passenger systems in Rochester, I think that the hardest sell is the most important one. While city fathers wring their hands, trying to come up with another festival to drag bored suburban residents into the city, we are turning our backs on a potential customer base for everything from garbage plates to jewelry to Rohrbach beer that is double the size of Monroe County. Can we really afford that?

By Tommy Belknap

Owner, developer, editor of DragonFlyEye.Net, Tom Belknap is also a freelance journalist for The 585 lifestyle magazine. He lives in the Rochester area with his wife and son.