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Route 52 didn't have to die
Last fall, to much fanfare in the local press, RGRTA and the University of Rochester jointly launched a new bus route, Route 52, connecting Strong Hospital with the East Avenue Wegmans via the Park Avenue and Highland Park neighborhoods.
The route was touted as an example of UR's green credentials and was long overdue, given the university's status as the largest employer in town. At the time, UR employees were offered incentives to ditch their parking spaces. Many did so, and I know of one family that went from owning two cars to owning one because of the bus route. Ridership quickly came to comprise students, employees, and faculty from desirable city neighborhoods.
Now, after just 11 months and with no consultation from the ridership, the route has been cancelled. This move reflects a staggering degree of shortsightedness on the part of RGRTA and UR.
The cited reason is low ridership, which allegedly peaked at 260 per day. However, such figures do not tell the complete story. The route was well patronized during rush hours, and overall ridership was much higher during the winter, dropping off in summer as some riders chose to commute by bike or foot.
Perhaps if RGRTA and UR had bothered to survey the ridership, they may have discovered that a more limited service (peak hours, weekdays only, less frequent in summer) would be economically viable. Unfortunately, most riders only heard about the fragility of this route via rumor and hearsay from drivers. There was no formal consultation, and emails to both RGRTA and UR were met with "we're thinking about it, wait and see" responses.
Given the rising cost of parking at UR ($5 per day for visitors, and up to $1500 per year for an employee space), it is inconceivable that a simple price-hike on the $1 fare was not even considered as an option.
If Rochester is to differentiate itself from the dozens of other post-industrial cities trying to ride the education-healthcare bandwagon to economic vitality, public transport is a critical part of the equation. Transparent decision-making by corporate and government institutions is also something that young, talented, eco-minded workers seek out.
The combined myopia of RGRTA and UR in choosing to kill Route 52 will ensure the continued demise of the local economy and the flight of this most desirable segment of the population. But hey, at least we'll have a new multi-million dollar exit ramp on I-390; now if we could just figure out where to put all those extra cars....
The big news at the RPO
"...new music director"... "new position"... "new and vibrant"... "new and exciting ways"... ("RPO Announces New Music Director," News).
"New," yes, but let's not forget that for a world-class orchestra to be successful it must blend the new with the old. Too much new too quickly can lead to turmoil and trouble for director and orchestra. I think a case in point can be the recent RPO season of troubles.
Anyway, here's to success for Stare and the RPO!
GEORGE OF THE CITY
The children at the border
On Urban Journal's "This Christian Nation: the Immigrant Children":
Who should be ashamed is Mary Anna Towler for that blatant assault on the city and state she claims to love so much. Simply because hard-working, law-abiding citizens are tired of their tax dollars being used for, at best, dubious causes, and at worst, corruption at the highest levels does not mean we are the heartless people you have the insolence to portray us as.
I just came back from Mass. I prayed that the crisis at the border can get worked out, that these children can find peace and safety. But not on our backs and our dollars.
I've been made to pay enough over the years for a war I didn't want, for liquor and cigarettes for people who'd rather live on my dollar than make their own, for the rich to make money off the backs of everyone else, and for government bureaucrats to sit around watching pornography all day on their computer while getting full health care, paid vacations to luxury resorts, and money for pensions.
I strongly disagree with the characterization of Rochesterians in this article. Yes, there has been a good deal of objecting to bringing illegal immigrants to the area. However, I don't believe it is because people here are uncaring and lack compassion. Rather, I feel people are weary of taking on the problems of the world. And when we do step up to help, Americans are vilified – as evidenced by the comment in the article about Border Patrol agents.
After two untenable wars and countless other interventions that cost American lives and treasure, it's time to focus on what we need in this country, this state, and this city.
There is a statue in the New York harbor that beckons: "Give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses yearning to be free." Back in the early 20th century, tens of thousands of Italians and Sicilians passed beneath this statue, most undocumented: they had no papers. The immigration officers posted the letters "WOP" (without papers) on their applications.
The derogatory name stuck, but they came, they worked hard, they became good citizens and added to the American culture. I, of Irish heritage, ended up marrying one of the descendants of that mass migration of undocumented immigrants.
Perhaps the statue, if it has become irrelevant, should be torn down. Scrap copper is at a premium these days.
People can have compassion for people, as I do, but still believe that our borders should be more secure. Why is it our country's responsibility to provide a home for people who came here illegally in spite of the conditions in their home countries?
You can believe the borders should be more secure, but not swarm buses of frightened children with nasty signs and chanting. And I think religion does play into this, because you have this disgusting reaction from a majority of people who identify with the far right, politically. And these folks are often, quite loudly, Christian. Yet the vile way they've been attacking the plight of these kids is just about the most unChrist-like thing I could possibly imagine.
The costs of renewables
The results of Germany's move to renewable sourcing of electricity is much more complex than the author would have one think ("Germany Gains in Renewables," News Blog). Similar for Japan's efforts to shut down nuclear power plants. The cost of generating electricity from renewable sources is considerably higher, and in an effort not to lose jobs due to the move, companies are being exempted from the surcharges, so even more is paid by consumers. Somehow one does not hear about that.
AM sandwich search goes on
In "The Most Important Meal of the Day," food writer Chris Lindstrom highlighted five restaurants offering unique takes on the breakfast sandwich. Readers offered these additions:
Your discussion of the Public Market offerings should include VM Giordano Imports European Cheese Shop, located a few doors down from Flour City Bread. They have a few varieties of breakfast sandwiches and are absolutely delicious.
Zimmerman's at the Public Market has a sandwich called the "Bologna Supreme," which includes a fried slice of baloney and some meat sauce, along with the egg/cheese/bacon. Balsam Bagels also does bagels as breakfast sandwiches, including an option with vegetarian sausage.
South Wedge Diner's breakfast sandwich with the sausage patty is great; it's seasoned with rosemary.
I am a devotee of the Union St. Bakery at the Public Market. Best breakfast sandwich. Best no-frills Rochester atmosphere. Best coffee – dark roast, $1, free refills! Open every day!