RTS celebrates opening of new transportation facility in Orleans

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 September 2018 at 8:02 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Officials cut the ribbon on a new transportation facility for RTS Orleans on Wednesday afternoon. The new 13,000-square-foot building is behind the Orleans County Highway Department at 225 West Academy St.

Pictured from left include: Chuck Nesbitt, Orleans County chief administrative officer; Assemblyman Steve Hawley; Geoff Astles, Board Chairman of the Rochester-Genesee Regional Transportation Authority; Bill Carpenter, Regional Transit Service chief executive officer; Henry Smith Jr., RGRTA commissioner from Orleans County; Lynne Johnson, chairwoman of the Orleans County Legislature; Eileen Banker, Albion Mayor; John LeFrois, vice president of LeFrois Builders; and Justin Vollenweider, architect with Passarell Associates.

About 50 people attended a ribbon-cutting celebration for the building.

The facility has eight indoor bus bays, three bus maintenance bays, a vehicle wash bay, storage for parts and materials, administrative office space, a break room with kitchenette, and designated parking.

The new facility cost about $4 million. Federal aid funneled to the state is covering 80 percent or about $3.2 million of the cost, while the state pays 10 percent and RTS pays the other 10 percent. It took about 15 months to construct the building.

Henry Smith Jr., center, shakes hands with Bill Carpenter, CEO of the Regional Transit Service through RGRTA. Smith, a former county legislator, has been the county’s representative on the RGRTA board for about a decade. He is stepping down from the unpaid position on Dec. 31.

He praised the RGRTA for providing public transportation in Orleans County since 2003. RTS Orleans serves about 40,000 riders a year. (Before it was RTS Orleans, the local agency was originally called Orleans Transit Service or OTS.)

Smith said the agency has tweaked bus routes and added bus shelters. The new $4 million facility shows RGRTA’s commitment to public transportation in the county, Smith said.

Lynne Johnson, right, also praised the partnership between RGRTA and the county. She is hopeful the agency will expand ride options to include Saturday service and more connections with neighboring counties.

The county will provide mechanics to work on RTS Orleans buses. The agency is in a 50-year lease for the county to have the transportation facility on county-owned land.

A tour of the site followed Wednesday’s ribbon cutting. RTS Orleans previously kept its buses outside by the county highway garage. Now the buses can be stored inside. RTS bus drivers previously had to arrive to work 20-30 minutes ahead of bus runs to clear off buses in the winter. Keeping the buses inside keeps them more secure and will get them on the road sooner in the mornings during inclimate weather.

RTS Orleans currently has six buses in the county. The transportation facility was built with eight bays to accommodate future growth for the service if it expands to eight buses.

The site includes new offices, bathrooms and a conference room.

Dave Belaskas, director of engineering and facilities management for RTS, gives a tour of the building. He is shown in the maintenance area, which includes lifts and three bays.

The facility has a wash bay to keep the buses clean after they have been out on their daily runs.

RTS Orleans staff started moving into the building Wednesday evening. RTS Orleans should have the operations fully shifted over by Monday.

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