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Montgomery County Leaders Seek CDTA Service

WAMC File photo of a CDTA Bus
Dave Lucas

As budget negotiations continue, local officials and New York state lawmakers are seeking state dollars to bring the Capital District Transportation Authority to Montgomery County.

Montgomery County is without a regional public transportation system. And the City of Amsterdam, the largest community in the largely rural county, has been without bus service for a year after the city’s bus service was dissolved in 2018.

Amsterdam Mayor Michael Villa is one of several local officials is hoping to bring the Capital District Transportation Authority to Montgomery County.

“It makes perfect sense to me that CDTA, to come to Amsterdam. And the proximity that we are to Schenectady…”

Schenectady and Amsterdam are about 15 miles apart along the Mohawk River.

Amsterdam last fall received a $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative state grant, which could give a boost to several projects in the city. Among projects the city is considering for its long-term planning goals is a multi-modal transportation hub.

Villa, state Senator George Amedore, Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, County Executive Matt Ossenfort, and others are seeking $3.5 million in the state budget to help bring CDTA bus service to Montgomery County.

Senator Amedore says local employers and educational institutions like Fulton-Montgomery Community College would greatly benefit from CDTA services. Connectivity is key.

“If we can transport employees to the employers, if we can transport the students to the workforce development classrooms like FMCC, it’s a win-win for the county, for the residents and for everyone who really wants to see Montgomery County grow.”

Currently CDTA serves Schenectady, Saratoga, Albany, and Rensselaer Counties.

CDTA CEO Carm Basile says when the Authority was created, its founders gave the organization flexibility to add adjoining counties into the mix.

“We then need to meet with community leaders, stakeholders and sort of match up what we see as a service plan, an operating plan, to what the community sees as the real need for service. For us to just go in and  plop down a service plan, in my mind, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. And then, of course, what does that service plan cost? What are the available revenue sources in the county? From the state of New York through the county? And then what’s the gap and how do we fill it?”

Montgomery County is considering a proposal to use a quarter of a percent of the county’s mortgage recording tax to fund the bus service.

The support from local and state leaders could boost the plan to bring in CDTA a boost. Again, Carm Basile.

“And then the major employers along Route 5S just outside the City of Amsterdam are already contacting us saying, ‘Hey, what can we do to help you?’ So, I see this as the beginning of some partnerships to make service more attractive to more people,” said Basile.

Representatives from St. Mary’s Healthcare, Beech Nut Nutrition Company, the Fulton-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce, and Fulton-Montgomery Community College are all seeking expanded public transportation services in the region. The state budget is due April 1st.

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