CAPITAL REGION — The Capital District Transportation Authority will resume both front-boarding and fare collection on all of its bus routes on Wednesday, Aug. 19, CDTA officials announced on Tuesday.
The regional mass transit agency has prohibited front boarding and waived all fares since early April, as part of the changes implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Passengers have been required to board buses through the rear doors.
The fare boxes are located at the front of the buses near the drivers, and one of the goals of stopping fare collections was to protect drivers from COVID exposure. Protective plexiglass barriers are being installed on vehicles across the system to protect both drivers and passengers.
CDTA officials said last month that the fare boxes would return once all the buses in the system had been retrofitted. Most rides cost $1.50, though the BusPlus route between downtown Albany and downtown Schenectady costs $2. CDTA CEO Carm Basile last month estimated the authority’s losses from having to waive fares at more than $5 million.
Like transit agencies across the country, CDTA saw a steep decline in ridership when the pandemic began in March, from an average of 55,000 riders per day last winter to just under 25,000 per day. Since April, ridership has climbed back to about 35,000 per day, and a series of service changes made in mid-July — including more frequent service on trunk routes — are based on 40,000 riders per day, as more people return to workplaces, but fewer people can ride on each bus.
The authority has been helped through the drying up of fare revenue by $42.7 million in federal grant money incuded in the CARES Act novel coronavirus relief legislation. That money was intended to help cover the customer revenue losses transit agencies across the country are experiencing, as well as the higher costs for cleaning and other measures.
The CDTA ticket sales center at 85 Watervliet Ave., Albany, will re-open on Wednesday, Aug. 12. It will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Riders of the bus system are required to maintain social distancing and wear masks while riding the bus.
CDTA officials have also emphasized the amount of additional cleaning being done on buses, including daily cleaning and disinfection.
CDTA services Albany, Saratoga, Schenectady and Rensselaer counties with a fleet of about 250 vehicles.
Reach staff writer Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086,