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State budget proposal includes funds to bring CDTA to Montgomery County

CDTA CEO Carm Basile
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
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CDTA CEO Carm Basile (file photo)

The Capital District Transportation Authority may receive the funding it needs to bring bus service back to Montgomery County. Governor Kathy Hochul’s budget proposal would support the bus service expansion that local and state officials have been seeking for years.

In 2018, Amsterdam’s city bus service was dissolved.

Since then, officials have teamed up to advocate for funding to bring the CDTA to Montgomery County. CDTA currently services the Capital Region communities of Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga, and Schenectady.

“This was right at the top of my list,” said Santabarbara.

Democratic State Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara of the 111th District said he advocated for the expansion in talks with Governor Hochul’s staff ahead of the legislative session.

Santabarbara points to workforce vacancies and a lack of commuter options to Fulton-Montgomery Community College.

Amsterdam has seen several upgrades to its transportation infrastructure, including a pedestrian bridge and a planned multi-modal transit hub.

“But without this critical piece of public transportation, it makes it very difficult to really fully realize the potential of what we’re trying to do out in the western part of my Assembly district,” said Santabarbara.

CDTA CEO Carm Basile has been working with state lawmakers to expand the carrier’s network.

“Honestly, this is the first concrete funding sign that we’ve seen. This is real dollars. So we’re very encouraged that this will all come together quickly, now,” said Basile.

Basile said the company is seeking about $5 million in additional investment to bring service to Montgomery County, with the same 40-foot buses making loops around other regional cities, adding Hochul’s budget proposes half of that.

But with a financial commitment already on the table from the governor’s office, Basile said CDTA could expand westward later this year.

“I think that’s a recognition that she and her administration understand this, the importance of connections. Now we have to secure the rest of the funding and move forward, and hopefully that all gets done and we’re operating service in 2022,” said Basile.

Santabarbara said the $2.5 million is a good starting point, but acknowledged there’s a long way to go as the session gets underway.

“And that’s where the work on the state budget becomes so critical, especially for my Assembly district, because the CDTA proposal is in there. This will certainly be a number one priority for me and I’ll be pushing for as much funding as we can before we have to look to other sources,” said Santabarbara.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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