Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Urban bus routes in Rochester

View Rochester City Lines urban routes in a larger map

I took a shot at converting Rochester City Lines' maps into something I could actually understand. They've got a bunch of maps for routes on their site, but most of them look like they were created with a drawing tool not much more advanced than Microsoft Paint. Therefore, I'm not entirely certain how accurate this map is. I didn't attempt to include the weekend, peak-period, or "direct" routes (limited stop/express routes).

Of course, there's also the problem that Google Maps doesn't have a facility for showing the direction of a line—not that I was really able to understand what was going on with some of the route maps... I'm sure it's adequate for people who have the time to try out a route. Not so hot for first-timers, however.

Anyway, like many smaller cities, Rochester's routes are mostly loops. They tend to intertwine with each other, so you may end up taking one route to the store, then a different one to get back to your trip's origin. Even more confusingly, many routes switch directions in the afternoon.

I feel that perhaps the craziest route in the system is the #6 bus—it goes down U.S. 63 (Broadway), pulls off the highway at 40th street, heads up the frontage road to the old Fleet Farm, goes back down to 40th, crosses the highway, and then goes up frontage road on the other side! Oh, and that's before the bus gets to the "Shoppes at Maine" sprawl-plex.

Rochester has made noises about building streetcar lines in and near its downtown area, though the city never had any streetcars in the past. Based on where the buses are most heavily concentrated, it would make the most sense along 2nd Street Southwest, North Broadway, and probably 3rd Avenue Southeast. I'm rather doubtful that any of them are justifiable. There are some steep hills and relatively limited crossings of rivers that might make it a tiny bit more feasible, but that's stretching it. Sprawl has definitely taken a toll on Rochester, though I think city leaders have begun to realize that. It's still not always clear when I see new buildings going up whether they have a "new urbanist" character because they are really trying to be urban for everyone, or if it's just a new senior center where non-automotive life is expected.

Oh yeah—If you haven't seen it, also check out my old post about Rochester City Lines commuter buses.


  1. Wow what a confusing bus system. Thanks for creating the map.

    Rochester seems like a town that could easily be on the forefront of transit-connected urbanism in this century.

  2. Assuming employment in Rochester’s relatively centralized, some kind of improved transit probably viable, though I’d think it would be designed more along the lines of Eugene’s BRT more than anything else.

  3. Sounds similar to the convoluted transit system in my (similarly-sized) hometown, Sioux Falls, SD.

  4. More proof that the free market produces rational transit systems...