The initial public reaction to the Capital District Transportation Authority’s new BusPlus service along the Route 5 corridor has been positive, CDTA officials said Wednesday.
“We’re well on our way to increased ridership,” CDTA Chief Executive Officer Carm Basile said in a report at the monthly CDTA board meeting in Rensselaer.
But it’s too early to know whether the service will really catch on, officials said, since it was only launched April 4 and the service was being offered free to a riders until April 18.
BusPlus is a $16.5 million effort to improve service on the busy 17-mile main corridor between Schenectady and Albany. The new service offers only limited stops at new or refurbished stations and is generally designed to have the look and feel of a commuter train rather than a bus.
“It may be the biggest change we’ve seen in my career,” said Basile, who has been with CDTA for three decades.
BusPlus buses make the trip between Albany and Schenectady in less than an hour and will be even faster later this year with plans to install “queue jumping” systems that give the buses a head start at traffic lights.
The fare for BusPlus is $2, though riders who use prepaid cards pay $1.50, the same fare as on all other CDTA bus routes.
“Early on, we found people who use BusPlus are using prepaid cards at a higher rate,” Basile said. “They are figuring it out.”
CDTA spokeswoman Margo Janack said it will be a month or two before the authority can get a real handle on whether people are changing their riding patterns and using the new bus service. Conventional buses that make multiple stops continue to travel on Route 5 as well.
The Route 5 corridor is CDTA’s busiest, with about 3.5 million riders per year.
If BusPlus is successful on Route 5, studies have already been done on how to extend similar service out Washington and Western avenues in Albany, which are also high-volume routes.
Basile also reported that for the operating year April 2010 to March 2011, total CDTA ridership was 13.8 million people, almost exactly the same as 2009-2010. In 2009-2010, CDTA saw an 11 percent ridership drop after the basic bus fare was increased from $1 to $1.50.
Basile said the authority hasn’t seen much increase in ridership since gas prices began rising over the winter and he blamed the harsh weather.
“Inclement weather hurts our ridership, impacts our reliability and safety targets and causes a general uneasiness within our operation,” Basile said.
Categories: Schenectady County