Wendy'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.
Wendy Cilbrith, a lifelong Syracuse resident, says public transportation in Central New York continues to suffer from the same woes it did 20 years ago.
Cilbrith said the Centro bus service is still not frequent enough to provide convenient and timely rides. She takes the Centro Sy-48 Liverpool/Morgan Road bus to and from her job as a teaching assistant at OCM BOCES’ Crown Road campus, spending about 40 minutes per trip.
Her commute starts at around 6:15 a.m., when the bus stops near her house on Oneida Street in Southwest Syracuse. Cilbrith said this leads to her having to wait outside close to an hour and a half before work.
“I have to wait to even get in the doors every morning,” she said.
The life-long Syracusan said she doesn’t like waiting close to an hour and a half before work starts. Cilbrith said there are no buses arriving between 6:40 a.m. and 8 a.m. — when classes start.
She also waits for longer than an hour after clocking out.
“It is not convenient,” Cilbrith said, noting that the earliest she can catch the bus after work is about 4:15 p.m.
Issues with service frequency are only exacerbated during the winter months, Cilbrith said.
Missing the bus due to inclement weather, or experiencing delays and cancellations of service can result in a $40 Uber ride for Cilbrith. She said she is sympathetic to bus operators and transportation planners during tough breaks in service.
“It makes me very sad because the pandemic has made everything tighter,” she said. “It isn’t Centro’s fault that they have to manage the service with fewer resources.”
Despite struggling to provide more frequent service, Centro has implemented positive changes in the last 20 years, Cilbrith said.
“It was very different back then. It is a lot cleaner and safer now,” she said, adding that bus drivers have also been trained in customer service better, leading to more pleasant rides.
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