CAPITAL REGION — Military veterans will be able to ride Capital District Transportation Authority buses for half-price, CDTA officials announced Tuesday.
"It is CDTA's way of saying thank you to the men and women who have served our country," CDTA board Chairman David Stackrow said.
The standard bus fare is $1.50, with the BusPlus service between Albany and Schenectady costing $2. Veterans who have been honorably discharged will be eligible for half-price on both and on all other CDTA services.
The new program was unveiled at the Joseph Zaloga American Legion Post in Albany. It expands on an existing program that has offered half-price fares to veterans who have an established disability.
The transit authority is working with the state Division of Veterans Affairs to coordinate the program. To qualify, veterans will need to be able to provide some proof of honorabe discharge or one of the Return the Favor cards that several counties now offer so veterans can receive discounts on purchases at local businesses.
There are about 60,000 veterans living in Albany, Schenectady, Saratoga and Rensselaer counties, the four counties served by CDTA. How many are currently bus riders was unclear; the authority provides about 17 million rides per year. The county veterans' services agencies in each county have agreed to help promote the program.
"Half-fare on all CDTA buses will offer a real-world solution for more mobily to fit their active lifestyle and connect them to work, shopping and entertainment in our region," Stackrow said.
With rider revenue accounting for only about 20 percent of CDTA's revenue, officials said they don't expect any major impact on the authority's financing, while the discount offers the possibilty of increasing system ridership.
The system will be administered by offering each veteran a CDTA Navigator card, which will include a photograph and a mark designating the owner is a veteran. Those measures are intended to reduce the possibility of fraud, CDTA staff said when the board voted to authorize the discount at its October meeting.
The cards are available for sale at the CDTA sales center at 85 Watervliet Ave., Albany; the Saratoga Springs train station; the Schenectady County Department of Social Services by appointment; or CDTA's Troy division.