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This article is about the New York commuter train line. For other uses, see Ontrack (disambiguation).
Ontrack Logo.png
Locale Syracuse, New York
Transit type Commuter rail
Number of lines 1
Number of stations 3 (full time)
2 (flag stops)
3 (seasonal)
1 (proposed)
Daily ridership 75
Began operation 1994
Ended operation 2007
Operator(s) New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway
Number of vehicles 4
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
System map
Central New York Regional Market
Alliance Bank Stadium
Walsh Transportation Center
Carousel Center
600 Erie Place(flag stop)
Armory Square
Syracuse University
Colvin Street(flag stop)
Rock Cut Road(seasonal flag stop)
Jamesville Village
Jamesville Beach(seasonal)

OnTrack was a regional rail line that operated in Syracuse, New York from 1994 to 2007. During much of its operation, Syracuse was the smallest city in the United States to have regional train service. The line ran from Colvin Street on the city's south side via Syracuse University and Armory Square to the Carousel Center, using four Budd Rail Diesel Cars (RDC-1) built in the 1950s. It was operated by the New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway.[1]


When service began in 1994, the trains ran between Syracuse University, Armory Square and Carousel Center ten times a day, seven days a week. In 2005, service was limited to Saturdays. The fare was $1.50.

Financing was approved in April 2004 to build a bridge that would allow OnTrack to reach the William F. Walsh Regional Transportation Center, Central New York Regional Market, and NBT Bank Stadium. These stations had been built and most of the track had been laid, with simply the bridge link missing.

OnTrack was heavily subsidized with roughly $8 million of state money spent on the system. In order to be profitable, OnTrack needed 500 riders a day; at its height it received 75. In July 2007, OnTrack ended service indefinitely.[1]

Ambitious plans for the future of OnTrack included:

  • Completion of the bridge mentioned above that would have made the line much more useful as many people arrive in Syracuse through the Transportation Center and may need public transportation to travel further into the city. This plan was plagued by construction problems.
  • Increased ridership from the long overdue construction of Destiny USA, a multi-billion dollar tourism attraction, which is supposed to draw millions of tourists a year.
  • Increased ridership as a result of more strategically placed stations. All but Colvin Street Station were in non-residential neighborhoods. Colvin Street station mostly failed to attract ridership. This could be attributed to OnTrack's operating hours, which did not include morning rush hour service.

OnTrack also ran the "Orange Express" shuttle during Syracuse University Carrier Dome events. This shuttle was more successful.

OnTrack was the subject of criticism for failing to re-paint its railroad bridges over Erie Boulevard and South Geddes, West Fayette and West Genesee Streets. Congressman Jim Walsh appropriated $3 million in 2002 for OnTrack, although the company insisted the money was earmarked for structural rather than cosmetic improvements.[2]


Syracuse University Carrier Dome Station today

From north to south:

Stations planned for an expanded Salvation Army facility downtown were cancelled when the Syracuse Salvation Army received word in January 2006 that it had not been selected as one of the recipients of a grant from the Kroc Foundation, run by Joan B. Kroc. The foundation had donated $1.6 billion to be used for 48 new community centers nationwide. The grant proposal had requested $36 million for a facility offering recreation, arts, education and work force development.

Only NBT Bank Stadium, Carousel Center, Armory Square and Syracuse University stops had platforms. All were outdoor with a small covered area.


All OnTrack cars were owned by New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway and returned to NYSWR upon the demise of the commuter rail service. By 2008, the RDC's were either sold or out of service.


  1. ^ a b "Syracuse: When Rail Fails". Metro Jacksonville, 2008. Retrieved February 14, 2011. 
  2. ^ "$3 Million Set Aside for Bridges Sits Unused" Sean Kirst, Syracuse Post-Standard. August 8, 2005


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