Addiction recovery groups hold vigil at RTS Transit Center

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Members of addiction recovery groups Monday night held a vigil at the RTS Transit Center to honor those who died from an overdose.

They say those deaths could have been prevented.

Organizers of the vigil say the downtown bus station on St. Paul Street has become a place where people come to use drugs.

VOCAL-NY, Recovery All Ways, and New York State Alliance of Recovery Residences say more than 200 people lost their lives to "preventable" overdoses in Rochester in 2020.

RTS officials say NARCAN is available at the transit center and staff on site are trained on how to use it, but Breyana Clark with VOCAL-NY says it’s not working, and that just last week, there were three overdoses at the station, so the groups wants NARCAN boxes outside the terminal as well.

"Not every drug user wants to call RTS transit staff because that could be attached to RPD and that can further the stigma, so stigma overtakes what’s going on so what’s best and more realistic for our community and this crisis is that RTS provides a NARCAN box outside where community members can NARCAN folks if they don’t want to talk to (RTS transit staff) or if (staff) fails to respond."

The groups handed out NARCAN and talked to people inside and outside the terminal Monday night.

RTS sent News10NBC the following statement Monday night:

“RTS joins with our neighbors in honoring the lives lost to drug overdose. It is a huge issue in our community, which is why NARCAN is available at the RTS Transit Center. We work closely with Monroe County and the City of Rochester to address issues like this. In fact, it was in coordination with Monroe County several years ago that many members of our team at the Transit Center were trained on the use of NARCAN and started keeping it on hand. Because of these partnerships, we have been able to help people experiencing medical emergencies, and that includes reviving people who have overdosed.”