CENTRO and the City of Utica have taken the next step in their partnership, as they celebrate the opening of the City's new Multi-Modal Transportation Center.

In 2005, former Congressman Sherwood Boehlert secured nearly $5 million in funds for the building of the center through the SAFETEA-LU transportation bill.

The Elizabeth Street hub has nine covered bays for the City's downtown buses and a 2,600 square foot waiting area with an information booth, ticket center and restrooms. The area is also climate controlled with easy access to both the city buses and to an additional bay operated by Birnie Bus Lines.

Ron Bucciero, General Manager for CENTRO of Oneida, says the new hub will decrease the city's downtown congestion.

"As the mayor indicated in his statements, we're going to be reliving downtown of where our bus would normally pick up and drop off passengers," Bucciero said. "That can be opened up to public parking for our downtown businesses, which is definitely greatly needed."

Brian Thomas, Commissioner of Urban and Economic Development, agreed.

"This is one central location where all the routes come together several times an hour," Thomas said. "It's a manned facility and a secure facility. Riders can purchase tickets here, check on bus schedules and make their transfers."

The new hub does remove some of the former stops normally made each day by the City's buses. Among them are the Radisson Hotel, Franklin Square and APAC Center stops, along with the corners of Elizabeth/Genesee Streets and LaFayette/Genesee Streets. Riders at those locations will have to go to the Centro Transit Hub to be picked up.

The new terminal opens for business on February 4th, and expects more than 300 arrivals and departures from the transit hub each weekday.

According to CENTRO, the city's ridership is north of 1.1 million, with about 180,000 customers transferring at the hub each year.