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Ticket To Ride: Albany Keen On Public Transit


Transportation is the buzzword in many mid- to large-sized North American cities. Albany is no exception as commuters seek out alternatives to driving to work.

A new America THINKS survey from infrastructure firm HNTB Corporation finds people are getting on board with public transportation as the cost to own and operate a vehicle rises and consumers look for ways to save money.

According to the study, 76 percent of Americans are open to taking public transportation instead of driving, up from 69 percent in 2010.

Albany 10th ward Council Member Leah Golby says alternatives make sense as the population continues to grow. "The writing is on the wall and we need to plan our cities for less cars and more public transit use, more people choosing to walk and ride bicycles."

Jonathan Scherzer is Director of Marketing for CDTA,  the Capital District Transportation Authority. He emphasizes the relationship between CDTA and the region's cities has never been better.  "We're all working toward the same goal. Complete streets. Clean streets. Good, walkable, livable cities where our people can get around and have public transportation options, whether its public transit, whether its biking or whether its driving an automobile."

There has been some flack since CDTA dropped the number 9 Whitehall Road bus service.  Ninth ward City Councilman James Sano told WAMC via email - quote - "... we raised many objections to changing the route all to no avail." but Scherzer defends the decision.  "The Quail Street bus is one of our more successful routes. It's route number 100 and it really is our most successful neighborhood route since our restructuring back in 2011. The service itself is running fine so much as we can tell. It has really been able to pick up some of the old number 9 along with route number 6 and route number 10. Between those three, we're very comfortable with the service in the area."

Community advocate Marlon Anderson agrees.   "They do  a pretty exemplary job in the service they provide to the public."  Anderson joins a host of others who see bus transit as a way to relieve congestion, reduce pollution and support job growth. Scherzer says CDTA is listening to riders’ concerns and trying to give them the service they want.   "We're gonna be hiring more operators and trying to find the ability to put more vehicles on the road to meet demand. CDTA is looking at having its highest ridership since the mid-1980s here as we come to the end of our fiscal year which will be March 2014."

CDTA rolled out its BusPlus rapid transit service in April 2011 along the Central Avenue corridor, connecting Albany, Colonie, Niskayuna and Schenectady. Plans to expand that service were announced in October, with U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer pledging to find federal funding in support of the project.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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