If you own land within a mile of Northway Exit 12 and have a few acres to spare, the Capital District Transportation Authority wants to talk to you.
Demand for its bus service from Saratoga County into Albany has grown so much in recent years that a CDTA official said it needs a bigger park-and-ride lot at Exit 12 — and preferably a parking lot of its own, somewhere nearby.
“We don’t have a new site selected. We are talking to a lot of different property owners,” said Ross Farrell, CDTA’s director of planning.
Having a CDTA-owned park-and-ride lot would be a first for the regional authority, which normally establishes park-and-ride lots by leasing spaces on the perimeters of big mall or shopping center parking lots.
At Exit 12, CDTA leases 50 spaces at the Malta Commons Business Park. But ridership demand has been growing for the past five years; there are more typically up to 85 cars parked there on any given day, and sometimes more.
“Right now, today, we need 100 spaces,” Farrell told the Malta Town Board last week. A new lot would be designed for 150 vehicles and perhaps hundreds more, Farrell said.
DCG Development of Clifton Park, which owns Malta Commons, plans to put up a new hotel where the parking lot is located, and relocate the park-and-ride to a smaller area. That’s what has prompted CDTA’s search.
Commuter coach buses and their customers may not be the only users, though.
CDTA is talking internally about a “Malta shuttle” that might travel between, let’s say, GlobalFoundries, the Saratoga Hospital urgent care center, the Ellsworth Commons apartments and other central-Malta destinations — a ride that would make sense for people like the GlobalFoundries workers who live in those apartments. They’re barely a mile from work — too far to walk, but barely worth warming up the engine for.
A couple of years ago, an effort to launch a Clifton Park-to-Saratoga Springs bus service fell flat, but now CDTA officials think a local shuttle might be a successful starting point for central Saratoga County bus service.
Once off the ground, Farrell said, a shuttle service could expand to link Malta to destinations in Clifton Park, Halfmoon, Ballston Spa or Saratoga.
The Northway XPress service runs only to and from Albany. Because the commuter buses and the customers will be the primary users of a new lot, Farrell said it’s critical that it be within a mile of the exit, both for bus service efficiency and the convenience of riders.
“If you want to have the demand, it has to be close to the exit,” Farrell said.
ESSEX CHAIN HEARING
When I wrote last Sunday about the state’s Essex Chain Lakes lands and the very Adirondack debate about their use — about snowmobiles and “primitive” lands — I noted the calls for public hearings to be held not just in Newcomb and Indian Lake, as planned, but in places closer to where most New Yorkers live.
It made sense. Most people who hike in the Adirondacks love them but don’t live there — and all New Yorkers have a stake in publicly owned lands, even if they never intend to venture into the black fly country.
The Department of Environmental Conservation has listened, at least enough to schedule a new public hearing, this time in Albany.
The new hearing will be held Wednesday, July 22, at DEC’s headquarters, 625 Broadway in downtown Albany.
DEC will still take written and emailed comments on the plan through July 27.
Stephen Williams is a Gazette reporter. Opinions expressed in his column are his own and not necessarily the newspaper’s. He can be reached at 885-6705, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.