Citing ongoing violence in and around the downtown transit center, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said today that students should no longer be bused through the center. The latest incident, which occurred early this morning, resulted in the arrest of a 16-year-old city resident and injuries to a female bystander. The suspect, Ezekiel Panton, faces two counts of assault.
Warren sent letters today to Rochester schools Superintendent Bolgen Vargas and RTS CEO William Carpenter, demanding that they get a handle on the problem, no matter the cost. The most effective solution, she said, is to stop transferring students through downtown.
“If that solution increases the cost of providing transportation for city school students, so be it,” she said. “You must put safety ahead of cost.”
Citing “inaction” by Carpenter and Vargas, Warren said that extra police resources will be devoted to the center until a permanent solution is found, even though the center is not the RPD’s responsibility.
But a two-phase strategy to significantly reduce
the number of students who transfer downtown is already in progress. It was announced by Carpenter and Vargas last month.
Carpenter and Vargas have not responded publicly to Warren's letter, yet.
Youth disturbances are not a new problem: Violence has been an issue over the years in other places where large numbers of young people gather, including the old Midtown Plaza and the Liberty Pole area. There have also been issues at Seabreeze Amusement Park, Ontario Beach Park, the Lilac Festival, and a fair in Greece.
Many people worried that the violence that plagued the Liberty Pole — then the main bus-transfer point — would infect the new transfer center, and their worries have been borne out.