The Capital District Transportation Committee this week officially launched its second Bus Rapid Transit line, a route that establishes an express route with limited starts linking the cities of Troy and Albany, extending as far north as Waterford.
The service, to be known as the “Blue Line,” or “River Corridor” line, follows establishment of the “Red Line” BRT service between Schenectady and Albany in 2011, which has become the single most-traveled route in the CDTA mass transit system.
The new route is the culmination of nearly a decade of planning, and includes about $42 million in improvements, including intersection improvements, upgraded bus stops, and new blue-and-silver buses, intended to be distinctive from local-service CDTA buses.
“The Capital Region is a growing regional hub and home to state government, technological innovation, small businesses, universities and thriving communities.” said Carm Basile, CDTA’s CEO. “The diverse urban centers and corridors in our region need evolving transportation infrastructure to support their continued renaissance. The Bus Rapid Transit service and the introduction of the ‘Blue Line’ is an innovative solution to help improve access throughout the region, while investing in our communities.”
The new route covers a 16-mile circuit with stops in Waterford, Cohoes, Lansingburgh, Troy, Watervliet, Menands and Albany. There are 31 stations, 20 branded vehicles, expansion of CDTA’s Troy garage, reconstruction of intersections with improved pedestrian amenities, and traffic technology upgrades to prioritize bus traffic.
The majority of the funding came from the Federal Transit Administration and the state Department of Transportation.
“Governor [Andrew] Cuomo’s wise investment in CDTA’s Bus Rapid Transit Blue Line will not only help Capital Region residents get to where they need to go quicker and more efficiently, but help reduce the region’s carbon footprint by reducing the need for cars on the road,” said state DOT Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez.
CDTA officials said the River Corridor area produces three million transit rides annually, since the area has a dense, urban core that connects downtowns and offices, universities, shopping centers, retail districts, and residential areas.
“Albany and Troy are two buzzing city centers growing on opposite sides of the Hudson River.” said Senator Neil Breslin, D-Albany. “The ability to connect these two hubs will open the gates for continued joint economic growth — connecting businesses, residents, employees and students across the river.”
Other state legislators, including assemblyman John McDonald, D-Cohoes, and Phil Steck, D-Colonie, said they expect small buses along the corridor to benefit from increased foot traffic due to the improved bus service, and it will be easier for their employees to get to work.
“The BRT Red Line, which created a high-speed connection from Albany to Schenectady, was transformational for people and businesses across my district,” Steck said. “The BRT service has eased congestion, provided reliable transportation for professionals and bridged two major city centers in the Capital Region. The new Blue Line will only continue to spur growth for the Capital Region, and I applaud CDTA for their continued investment in our community.”
Advanced planning is underway for a third BRT route, which will run from downtown Albany to the western part of the city and into Guilderland, linking the downtown with the uptown state office campus, University at Albany, and Crossgates Mall. Eventually, CDTA officials want to have 40 miles of BRT express service om the three routes in the Capital Region.