At the Central New York Regional Transportation Authority, we define service to the community far more broadly than the official core mission of providing Centro’s public transit service effectively each day.
As with any of our sister properties nationwide, public transit in Central New York is heavily underwritten by the taxpayers at all levels of government. It is, then, incumbent upon us as a public servant to make every effort to bring “extra value” to our constituencies.
Among the ways in which the Central New York Regional Transportation Authority brings this added value are 1. organizational initiatives that touch the lives of citizens who otherwise may not be users of public transit and 2. the involvement of employees individually and collectively in community-based activities which are a critical part of the local fabric.
Examples of the former are many, and include an ever-expanding network of public routes, often operated on a regional basis, which support recreational and public service events that drive the local economy and enhance community life.
Centro park-and-aide services, which we have developed over many years, annually bring scores of people to festivals across the region, including the Oswego Harborfest, the Utica Boilermaker Run, the Syracuse JazzFest and WinterFest, to name a few. In addition, Centro’s development and continued expansion of regional park-and-ride routes to the New York State Fair provide access to this twelve-day event for thousands who would otherwise not be able to enjoy this statewide attraction. Of the nearly one million fair attendees each year, more than 300,000 of them use Centro to beat traffic congestion and arrive right at the main gate.
At a more “micro” level, Centro frequently enhances holiday events in its local communities, among them being celebrations of Juneteenth and St. Patrick’s Day, along with a festive holiday “Santa Bus” operating throughout Syracuse each December.
For its part in addressing community-based needs, Centro has long been a non-traditional and reliable partner. At the organization level, we have been a leader for 25 years in local efforts to combat drunken and impaired driving by motorists, hosting, promoting and leading an annual awareness program known as the “Lights On Caravan” in several of our member counties.
Working in close partnership with the local 9-1-1 Centers, Centro is frequently on the scene of various major incidents, providing shelter to our fire and police forces, as well as to victims of fires and other major mishaps. When a passenger train collision occurred in Syracuse, Centro buses were en route to the scene for rescue and shelter services even before being called to do so by the local emergency management center.
Employee participation in local volunteer efforts is encouraged and supported by Centro management. Employees at all levels are active participants in various aspects of many charitable / non-profit organizations. Centro rank-and-file employees annually team up with management staff to conduct fund-raising raffles within the organization to benefit various local charities and families in need.
Within the past year, I had the privilege of serving as chairman of the annual fundraiser for the local chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Through the generous donation of time and money by many Centro employees, their families and friends, Centro raised in excess of $24,000, a record for the greatest single contribution to an event which locally raised more than $300,000, also a record.
In sum, Centro and its family of employees embrace the role of public service every day in many ways.