Proposed shuttle for Syracuse city employees receiving praise, criticism
Syracuse common councilors are considering a plan that would provide a shuttle for employees who park at a parking garage a half mile or more from their workplace. The $100,000 agreement with LAZ Parking includes the cost of a shuttle and transportation to city hall, the public safety building, and other locations. Chief operations officer Corey Driscoll Dunham says it’s a safe and accessible option.
"There are a number of people that have the privilege of parking around city hall, and CSEA came to us and said on behalf of our employees who don't have that privilege and don't have the level of comfort to make that six-block walk in wintery conditions," Dunham said. "We would like to have a better accommodation for them."
Dunham says department heads tell her the shuttle service can serve as a recruitment and retention tool for some of the city’s lowest earners. CSEA local 834 Vice President Darcy Burgen says the conversation started with a different idea but evolved into a shuttle.
"We had originally asked in negotiations for a discount at Fayette Garage, which is the midpoint for PSB [public safety building], city hall commons, and city hall instead of walking 5 blocks to the free parking that we have that is actually during the winter in in-climate weather is a wind tunnel and very dangerous," Burgen said.
But Burgen learned the Fayette Street garage is at capacity, so that’s why the shuttle from the Washington Street garage near West Street came up. Councilor Michael Greene says spending $100,000 on a shuttle is not a responsible use of taxpayer money. He would like the city to consider another idea: Giving free Centro bus passes to the workers.
"I think when the city provides free parking to employees but not public transit, that sets a message, that sets the message that the city of Syracuse has a car culture and we are not looking at investing in other things," Greene said.
Greene says six different bus routes run along Washington Street and serve downtown. He hopes the Walsh administration reaches out to Centro to weigh its options. Barring a different agreement, councilors could vote on the shuttle plan at their Monday meeting.