The no. 10 bus that runs from Elmira to Owego used to drive past Tioga Downs, but now it stops there six times a day. It’s called the “Tioga Downs” line on the bus website. Chemung County added the stops to help people who work at the casino.
The county is working with the human resources department at Tioga Downs to learn when work shifts are as they consider how to expand service.
“When do your employees need to get in for shifts? What’s gonna work for you?” said Tina Hager, the county’s transit specialist. “If it turns out it’s the weekends – the route currently only runs Monday through Friday – then we will look into expanding on the weekends because that may be the time when those jobs have a higher need.”
Hager is planning for hundreds more food service workers and housekeepers to potentially take the bus to Tioga Downs once the hotel is finished. That’s expected by the end of 2017.
Planning bus service around employees’ work shifts isn’t new for the county. They’ve worked out a similar agreement with Demet’s Candy Company in Horseheads. The county changes bus times when work shifts get longer ahead of candy rushes around Valentine’s Day and Easter.
“We have to be flexible, and it’s not an easy thing to be as a transit agency. But they communicate with us and we get everything in place … when they go back and forth between the 8-hour and 12-hour shift,” said Hager. “We have had some days, when they’re in their busiest season, we’re taking 80 people on the bus to work at Demet’s.”
The bus transports people from more populated areas in Elmira to the suburban, industrial park where Demet’s is located. The factory is not easily accessible on foot or a bicycle.
The county wants to model this in their relationship with Tioga Downs.
Even though transporting gamblers isn’t the county’s goal – the round trip from Elmira to Owego is three hours long – Hager said, some people use the bus for that.
“I had someone say to me, ‘well, I could get the 11 o’clock bus, get off at 12:05, go in and have my lunch, go in and do some gaming, and then I can get the 3:10 bus and come back to Elmira,'” said Hager. Homes for senior citizens are also interested in bus service to the casino, she said.
The casino is paying the county a small amount to drive up to the main entrance. The county has applied for state money to expand service.