Joy's story is part of a series on the region's public transportation set to publish on centralcurrent.org this week. Reporters will be riding buses to collect residents' perspectives. Do you use public transportation and want to be part of the series? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Decked out in a green headband with clover antennas for St. Patrick’s Day, Joy Bonspille-Bushey, 54, prepared to board the bus for PEACE, Inc., where she works as an advanced reviewer and tax preparer.
Joy, who has lived in Syracuse most of her life and grew up in the Strathmore neighborhood, uses the city’s bus system to go nearly anywhere and has for much of the time she’s lived in the city.
She rides the bus to work, to her home on the North Side, and to shop, despite what she described as a stigma around using public transportation in Syracuse. Joy called the stigma “ridiculous” and noted even celebrities use the subway in New York City.
Joy uses the bus because it is more affordable and convenient than filling up a gas tank and finding parking, she said.
While she likes the service, there are a few things she would improve: timeliness, attention to health concerns and ride pass options.
The nearest stop to her home is often delayed, so Joy walks three blocks uphill to the stop she feels is more timely. When it snowed recently, she had to take a slightly later bus to avoid the danger of walking uphill in bad weather, which cost her fifteen minutes on the time clock at work.
Joy has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and other riders’ occasional use of e-cigarettes and vape pens can cause Joy discomfort. Sometimes people ask riders to stop vaping, she said, but others will refrain from stirring conflict for fear that they may have a safety issue.
“The bus drivers do their best, but we’re all still just human beings,” she said. “I can’t imagine that you want to be in a job where you feel like you have to constantly confront people or be confronted.”
She misses Centro’s monthly passes that are no longer available. Instead, she buys a $12 max pass that gets her unlimited rides for the week. Each week Joy has to get a new pass, which can be tedious. She likes how affordable the $1-per-ride bus fare is.
“Syracuse doesn’t do too shabby with connecting point A to point B,” she said. “You can pretty much get wherever you want to go.”
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Centro and SMTC want to better understand how they can serve Central New York with your help.
The expansion would allow Veo bikes to travel outside Syracuse and into Onondaga County.
Centro will present its plans for BRT to the Common Council on Tuesday.
BRT is expected to be implemented by 2026.