Schenectady County

CDTA: Route won’t change

Capital District Transportation Authority officials assured a gathering of anxious bus riders that t

Capital District Transportation Authority officials assured a gathering of anxious bus riders that the 63 route will remain unchanged, even if plans for an overhaul of Schenectady County’s service move forward.

About two dozen bus commuters attended CDTA’s quarterly outreach meeting at the Schenectady County Public Library Tuesday to protest any changes to service between downtown Schenectady and Albany via Route 20.

But CDTA Executive Director Raymond Melleady assured them there will be no changes to the route, even if the authority moves ahead with its $3 million service expansion.

“There will be no changes to the 63,” he said to a round of applause. “Everything else is on hold pending funding.”

Though the plans for the service expansion were never fully divulged, many riders in the city and Rotterdam heard through their bus drivers that the 63 route would be eliminated. Many feared the change would leave them walking long distances to catch buses along CDTA’s main ‘trunk lines’ instead of the bus loops traveling near their neighborhoods.

“I’d either need to walk a mile-and-a-half downtown or walk a mile in the other direction,” said city resident Ginny Zenefski, who uses the bus line to commute to work in Albany. “I’m glad they’re listening.”

CDTA determined last summer the overhaul would be indefinitely postponed after a $9 million gap in its 2009 operating budget was projected.

Many riders remained skeptical of the authority’s initial assurances. Some bus riders turned out to the meeting Tuesday sporting colorful buttons reading “save Route 63 in Rotterdam” and “keep 63 as it is.” One rider produced a flier announcing the meeting and advocating that the public attend to help save their bus line.

Zenefski said nearly 60 riders also signed a petition to save the line. She said another was circulated regarding the 53 route.

“It was a group effort,” she said.

Melleady said keeping the 63 the way it is doesn’t really fit into CDTA’s overall plans. However, he said the public outcry was enough that the authority didn’t see the justification in changing it.

“It’s not ideal, but it’s what we heard the community wanted,” he said.

Melleady also discussed CDTA’s “four-tier” approach to closing it’s budget gap. Next spring, the authority plans to hike fares from $1 to $1.50, marking the first increase since 1995.

The authority will attempt a 4.5 percent “net decrease” in service hours. Melleady said areas witnessing decreases in ridership could face reductions.

CDTA is also planing to reduce internal expenditures — such as travel expenses — by more than $500,000. And $1.75 million originally budgeted for capital projects will be moved into the authority’s operating expenses.

Despite the bleak financial outlook, CDTA is still experiencing a period of strong growth in ridership. This year, Melleady said ridership is expected to reach more than 16 million.

“Ridership this year will achieve a record,” he said. “We’ve increased by numbers we haven’t seen since the ‘80s.”

Categories: Uncategorized

Leave a Reply