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Going Your Way

CDTA announces plans to expand their popular BusPlus bus rapid transit service—but first they need the money

by Shawn Stone on October 24, 2013

Schumer announced big money and bus plans at the College of Saint Rose. Photo by Erin Pihlaja.

 

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York) was at the College of Saint Rose for a press conference on Oct. 21 to announce that the Capital District Transportation Authority had developed plans to expand the BusPlus service to two new routes. More to the point, he said that he would fully back the effort to secure Federal funds for this project. Joined by CDTA’s CEO Carm Basile and a host of local elected officials, Schumer said that this expansion would “Polish the jewel that is CDTA.”

Schumer was instrumental in securing the $18 million in funding to create the current BusPlus service along the Route 5 corridor. It is the success of this line that makes expansion possible.

The two new lines would build on existing services. The Washington-Western, or Purple Line, would travel more or less along the existing route of the No. 10 Western Avenue bus between downtown Albany and the Harriman State Office Campus. (It will, of course, make many fewer stops—15 instead of 40, according to CDTA.) At that point, however, the service would travel along newly built, dedicated bus lanes through the Harriman Campus to the adjacent University at Albany and on to Washington Avenue, where the service would continue to the College of Nanoscale Science and terminate at Crossgates Mall.

These new bus lanes, Basile said, will be the real time savers—and the reason the project will cost between $30 and $40 million. This is also why Sen. Schumer’s efforts will be key to the project’s success.

There was skepticism that Federal funding would come through for the project, given the fractious relationship between the Democratically-controlled Senate and the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Schumer, however, said “One of the few areas where there has been agreement” is on transportation issues.

Still, securing these funds through the Department of Transportation’s competitive Small Starts program will likely take a few years and be a “heavy lift,” Schumer said, but added that “I’m confident we can make this happen.”

“I am going to bring my influence—and some creativity—to the effort,” Schumer said.

The Albany-Troy, or Blue Line, will travel between the Port of Albany through Troy to Waterford and Cohoes. This builds on one of CDTA’s most traveled buses, the No. 22, adding areas that would benefit from the increased service.

CDTA’s Basile said that the Blue Line is on a “different funding track,” separate from Schumer’s efforts, and may come into service before the Purple Line.

CDTA will hold an “open house” in Milne Hall at the University of Albany’s downtown campus (135 Western Ave., Albany) from 5 to 7 PM on Nov. 12, for the purpose of seeking public input on the proposed Western-Washington BRT (Purple) line. For more info, visit cdta.org.