All Capital Region residents have an interest in a good mass transit system, even those who don’t use it (because it makes the roads less congested for drivers, the air cleaner, etc.). And they’ve got one in the CDTA, which has been doing a lot of things right lately.
One has been to improve its image, with hybrid buses and promotions like partnering with media outlets on Earth Day to give free rides to people who wore green.
More substantively, it has restructured its route system, after years of planning and public outreach, with the aim of attracting additional riders. There will be more and later buses on popular routes, and better access to shopping, hospitals and workplaces like the new Golub headquarters in Schenectady and the under-construction GlobalFoundries plant in Malta. The restructured route plan debuts in Schenectady today.
Money continues to be a problem, with state aid reductions, and this has caused a delay in the long-awaited Bus Rapid Transit system between Schenectady and Albany.
But riders seem to be coming back after a drop in ridership when fares were raised last year from $1 to $1.50. Just before that, ridership was at record levels thanks to high gas prices (they are getting up there again) and heightened environmental consciousness.
Service and marketing are two keys to increasing ridership; and CDTA, to its credit, recognizes this and is doing what it can to improve them.