|Locale||Syracuse, New York|
|Transit type||Commuter rail|
|Number of lines||1|
|Number of stations||3 (full time)
2 (flag stops)
|Operator(s)||New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway|
|Number of vehicles||4|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in)|
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.
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.
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 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.
From north to south:
- William F. Walsh Regional Transportation Center: Amtrak, Greyhound and Trailways station. Station would have served nearby Central New York Regional Market (regional produce market) and Alliance Bank Stadium (formerly P&C Stadium, home of the Syracuse Chiefs minor league baseball team). A fully covered platform and link to transportation center was completed.
- Carousel Center: Syracuse's largest shopping mall.
- 600 Erie Place (flag stop): for the Westside neighborhood.
- Armory Square - Downtown Syracuse: Downtown station, on Armory Square, a major nightlife area that also has many small shops and restaurants.
- Syracuse University - Carrier Dome: for the University Hill neighborhood, close to the Carrier Dome.
- Colvin Street (flag stop): for the Brighton and Outer Comstock neighborhoods.
- Rock Cut Road (seasonal flag stop)
- Jamesville Village (seasonal flag stop)
- Jamesville Beach (seasonal destination)
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.
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.
- M5 Budd RDC-1 built for New Haven Railroad (NHRR) #23 built in 1952; later served with Penn Central Transportation Company (PC) as #68; Metro-North Railroad (MNR) as # 18, Amtrak as # 18; sold to Conway Scenic Railroad of New Hampshire in May 2008
- M6 Budd RDC-1 built in 1953 for NHRR as # 37; later served with PC (#37); MNR (#11); Amtrak (#11); still owned by NYSWR
- M7 Budd RDC-1 built in 1953 for NHRR as # 43; later served with PC (#43); MNR (#43) and now with Southern Railroad of New Jersey since 2008
- M8 Budd RDC-1 built in 1953 for New York Central Railroad as # 465; later served with PC (#65) and MNR (#65)
- "Syracuse: When Rail Fails". Metro Jacksonville, 2008. Retrieved February 14, 2011.
- "$3 Million Set Aside for Bridges Sits Unused" Sean Kirst, Syracuse Post-Standard. August 8, 2005
- Brieaddy, Frank (17 September 2005). "Salvation Army center plan grows". The Post-Standard.
- "OnTrack is lacking passengers in Syracuse". News 10 Now. 2004-05-24.
- "No grant for Syracuse Salvation Army". News 10 Now. 1/6/2006. Check date values in:
- "$400,000 for a train that never came". The Post-Standard. 2007-11-11.