Bus ridership in the Capital Region is at record levels. There are many reasons for that, among them the high cost of gas, traffic congestion and growing environmental awareness.
But what shouldn’t be discounted are efforts by the Capital District Transportation Authority to attract more riders, including those who could drive if they wanted to, by making the experience more convenient and pleasant. CDTA’s plan for a downtown transit hub in Albany, and upgraded facilities in Schenectady and Troy, fits right in with that.
CDTA has been around since 1970. But for most of that time it was just your basic bus service, used primarily by those without other means of transportation. And while it connected the region’s cities, it had no major presence in them; they were just places to terminate and turn around.
That is changing fast, and it started with the introduction of BusPlus, an express service between Schenectady and Albany, in 2011. With new, more comfortable, Wi-Fi-equipped buses, fewer stops and attractive shelters, it has been a huge success, attracting many new riders. CDTA wants to create two more BusPlus routes, from downtown Albany to the Cohoes-Troy and Crossgates-University at Albany areas.
The proposed Albany hub, which would replace the old Greyhound station on Broadway, would be the main terminal for those and other routes, as well as an intermodal station. It would be part of a mixed-use, multistory urban building with retail stores and offices, and feature up-to-date route information, food, bathrooms and other amenities for passengers.
It sounds great. The only problem, as usual, is money. But a project that would further boost mass transit as well as downtown business should qualify for both federal transportation and state economic development funds. Now that CDTA has the plan, it can start making the case.