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CDTA Hails New Funding In Federal Infrastructure Bill

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Dave Lucas / WAMC
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U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer with CDTA Chief Executive Officer Carm Basile at Albany International Airport, August 18, 2021.

Albany County's transportation infrastructure is in line for a significant upgrade.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says the bipartisan infrastructure bill makes record funding available for transit systems like Capital District Transportation Authority.

Schumer, a Democrat, stopped by Albany International Airport Wednesday, a week after the Senate passed the bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill.

"This is really a major shot in the arm. And it's more money than this region has received for infrastructure in decades and decades and decades, and maybe forever, maybe forever. "

He says the bill makes record funding available for CDTA – which will help reduce poverty, boost the economy and get more people riding the bus.

"$113 million for the CDTA over the next five years. The CDTA, which does a great job, I point to it, I pointed to it on the floor of the Senate, you may remember, because the bus commutes, the rapid bus commuting between Troy and Albany and Schenectady, that triangle, is something the rest of the nation is now copying."

Schumer says CDTA estimates the bill will increase its annual funding by 30% every year for the next five years, and the deal has $8 billion for the programs that have funded CDTA’s Bus Rapid Transit initiatives. Two BRT lines, the Red and Blue, are already in service. Schumer says he'll continue to work with the CDTA to secure the funding needed to implement the Purple Line along the Western and Washington corridor in the city of Albany.

CDTA Chief Executive Officer Carm Basile: "We're trying hard to change how people think about public transportation. Electric buses, bus rapid transit, bikes, scooters, carshare. Anything that has wheels on it, we want to manage it. And anything that requires people to move, we want to be part of it. "

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan: "Well, if we're going to hit our climate goals, we need to get serious about transit. And so investments in CDTA with respect to making those routes faster and able to serve more people, as well as electrification of the buses is important. I would love to see a multimodal center down at the new Liberty Park area where the current Greyhound bus station is, so, looking at the potential for some investments there that would link very easily to the train station and to the airport. And so we are very close partners we work closely with CDTA and you know, really are looking to help to enhance those transit options here in the region because that really helps the city of Albany. The fewer cars coming into the city, the better it is for us as far as trying to reach those climate goals."

CDTA currently has four electric buses in service, with four more on order, and an ultimate goal of 25% of its fleet. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes over $5.6 billion for clean buses. The bill has passed the U.S. Senate and awaits action in the House.

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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