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      New CENTRO hub about to change bus travel

      Construction's almost done on Centro's new hub--bus service from here will start in June

      CENTRO is almost done construction on its new transportation hub. The building is on the south side of downtown, just south of Hotel Syracuse and across from the old Central Tech, and it's designed to be the signature entrance to Syracuse from the south.

      CENTRO's Steve Koegel took us on an exclusive tour. 'It is big,' he says. "We have to have enough room to have 22 buses here all at once, to take them off the street."

      When the center opens, the bus traffic jams downtown will be a thing of the past. And that won't be the only change for bus riders. Koegel says that the new building will protect riders from the elements, with a roof, dropped eaves that block the wind and even heated outside sidewalks to melt snow. "It's a lot better than standing in a shelter on the corner of Salina and Fayette, absolutely," he says. Riders will also have an easier time of finding their buses---each route will leave from the same platform, each trip.

      Besides the bus area, the new hub has a spacious, and heated, waiting area with restrooms. "We have it with as many windows as possible," says Koegel. "We want it light and inviting, and we want people to feel safe and secure everywhere in the facility."

      As the construction wraps up, there are already handmade signs in the building advising workers of nearby food sellers.And, it's expected that once it opens, the hub will also generate new business in the vacant storefronts across Salina Street, much like the food and drug stores at the current downtown transfer point.

      Construction should wrap up in about a month, then bus drivers will 'practice' getting in and out of the new facility, which should open to bus riders in June.