Starting in Spring 2020, SUNY Cortland students and employees should be able to hop aboard a First Transit bus from one of three bus stops on campus. The regular fare will apply, but the hope is that the entire SUNY Cortland community; staff, students and faculty will benefit from increased access to public transportation, says Zach Newswanger, Associate Vice President for Facilities Management at SUNY Cortland.
This arrangement will particularly affect Routes 2, 4, 6 and 7 and the campus bus stops at the 281 Parking Lot (just off the 281 entrance to campus),the Park Center Bus Stop (just off Folmer Drive by Park Center), and the Corey Union Bus Stop (just off Prospect Terrace/Neubig Road closest to the Corey Union Building).
Signage will be posted and the changes will be marketed extensively to all of SUNY Cortland’s employees and students students ahead of time, says Zach Newswanger. He wants to make sure the changes are beneficial to all potential users from campus, not frustrating.
In particular, students will be told where to expect the routes to take them once they get on. For example, once a rider gets on Route 2, from the 281 Parking Lot bus stop, they should expect to travel toward the Tops supermarket plaza and then down Groton Avenue. This could be helpful to students who live on off-campus housing along Groton Avenue and need to go shopping.
And a student boarding the Route 4 bus from the Park Center Bus Stop on Folmer Drive, would then be riding the loop toward Walmart, Price Chopper and Aldi's. That route would also take them back down Tompkins Street on the return trip, where they could get off at the railroad tracks near campus if desired.
As is the case with every passenger, students could also choose to ride the bus all the way to the County Office Building-a transfer point to other routes, or they could request to stop anywhere along the route.
Routes 6 and 7, which serve TC3 and Cornell and run past the SUNY Cortland campus library, would be pulling into the Corey Union bus stop. These buses currently run through the campus but stop only as needed when flagged down, rather than pulling into a bus stop. This has sparked complaints about traffic backups along that route, a problem First Transit General Manager Ryan Oakley hopes this new arrangement will alleviate.
The discussions came about in recent weeks between First Transit, SUNY Cortland, Seven Valleys Health Coalition's Mobility Management Coordinator and planning department officials. Talks focused on how best to increase public transit ridership while also improving service to the public.
Details still need to be worked out, such as what the easiest scenario will be for students and campus employees to purchase a monthly or semester pass.
But Zach Newswanger and Ryan Oakley are hopeful that the simple changes are the start of a productive partnership that will benefit students, the public transit system and all the traveling public.
"This fits with the college's mission to promote sustainability and to try to increase use of public transit over personal vehicle use," said Newswanger. "It could also help address the parking problems on campus."