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What you need to know for 07/21/2017

Schenectady trolley arrives, to delight of local leaders

Schenectady trolley arrives, to delight of local leaders

It is free to use; resembles transportation in Saratoga Springs, Albany
Schenectady trolley arrives, to delight of local leaders
County Legislator Gary Hughes speaks about the launch of a free Schenectady trolley service June 20, 2017.
Photographer: Brett Samuels

SCHENECTADY — Residents and visitors will, by the end of the week, have a free mode of transportation from Proctors to the casino and several stops in between, with the arrival of the Electric City Trolley.

The trolley, which is free to use and resembles shuttles used in Saratoga Springs and Albany, is the latest of several new transportation options in the region. Operated by the Capital District Transportation Authority, it will run 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Thursdays to Saturdays, providing service from State Street downtown to the Mohawk Harbor development along Erie Boulevard, making periodic stops on lower Union Street, in Little Italy and at local hotels.

Local leaders gathered Tuesday outside Proctors to celebrate the service as a way to link a revitalized downtown with a growing Mohawk Harbor development. Staffers launched confetti at the conclusion of the announcement.

“We’re the envy of the Capital District,” said Galesi Group CEO David Buicko. “To create connectivity to businesses and restaurants, it’s a great place to live, eat, work, sleep and drink.”

The trolley had been in the works for about a year, CDTA CEO Carm Basile said Tuesday, hailing the partnership of local government and businesses that made the project possible. Schenectady-based company Transfinder created an app, called Cityfinder, to provide real-time information on the trolley’s whereabouts.

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Two trolleys will operate at a time, Basile said, arriving at each stop every 20 minutes. 

"The service will run through the end of the year, and resume around Memorial Day next year, said Jaime Watson, a CDTA spokeswoman.

The route will feature 13 stops in all, including access to the Amtrak station, Rivers Casino & Resort, the Courtyard by Marriott at Mohawk Harbor, Proctors, the downtown library and more.

The trolley will launch on Thursday, one week before ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft can legally begin operating in the region. In addition, CDTA is rolling out bike-sharing stations this summer around the Capital Region, including seven in Schenectady.

Basile said he believes the increased availability of transportation is beneficial for all involved, adding that he isn’t worried about oversaturation.

“What people tell us is they want a menu of mobility options,” Basile said. “What’s best for someone on a Friday (for transportation), may not be what’s best on Saturday.”

The service was initially slated for a March rollout but was delayed. Basile said those involved wanted to wait for good weather, which makes it easier to familiarize people with the trolley and effectively implement it, he said.

“We didn’t miss it by much,” he said of the projected March launch.

To make the trolley more convenient and accessible, Transfinder developed the Cityfinder app. The technology will provide users with the estimated arrival time of the next trolley at a given stop, or directions to the nearest trolley stop from their location, said Transfinder CEO Antonio Civitella.

The free app, which also provides the same information for the recently launched Albany trolley, is available on the App Store and Google Play.

Basile added that the service will fill a significant void in the city, where residents might previously not have had a way to get a short distance from downtown or the train station to the casino.

“It’s not going to be for everybody, but we see this as an easy, convenient way to get around,” Basile said. “It’s got community support, which makes the chances of success greater.”

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