This article is about the New York commuter train line. For other uses, see Ontrack (disambiguation).

OnTrack trains at Armory Square in July 1995
Locale Syracuse, New York
Transit type Commuter rail
Number of lines 1
Number of stations 3 (full time)
2 (flag stops)
3 (seasonal)
3 (proposed but never opened)
Daily ridership 75 (2005)
Began operation 1994
Ended operation July 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 Amtrak
Park Street bridge (never completed)
Carousel Center
600 Erie Place(flag stop)
Armory Square - Downtown Syracuse
Syracuse University - Carrier Dome
Colvin Street(flag stop)
Rock Cut Road(seasonal flag stop)
Jamesville Village(seasonal)
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]


Map of OnTrack service, showing the unfinished extension to Walsh Transportation Center, but not the further extensions on either end

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. 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]

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 unrealized plans for the future of OnTrack included:


Carousel Center station in 2011
Syracuse University - Carrier Dome station in 2013

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


M-7 at Carousel Center in July 1995

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 RDCs were either sold or out of service.


  1. 1 2 "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
  3. "Binghamton-Syracuse train next year?". THE ESPA EXPRESS. Empire State Passengers Association. August 2002.
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