Town bus users air concerns

Fewer buses, overcrowding, lack of notification create headaches on Route 18

— A group of Bethlehem commuters are unhappy with recent changes to their bus route, but it’s unlikely the adjustments will be reversed.

About 25 town residents met with Capital District Transportation Authority officials on the night of Thursday, Dec. 13, to discuss problems they have witnessed along Route 18 since the changes went into effect on Nov. 11. Complaints ranged from buses being off schedule, overcrowded or having unsafe riding conditions.

The meeting was also attended by Town Supervisor John Clarkson, councilman-elect Bill Reinhardt and representatives from the Albany County Legislature and Rep. Paul Tonko’s office. The CDTA was represented by Director of Marketing Jon Scherzer, who is a Delmar resident, and Director of Transportation Gary Cook.

“We wanted to give residents a chance to talk to CDTA, and we’d like to see a good resolution from this,” said Clarkson. “A lot of times in town government we have no powers whatsoever other than moral persuasion, and in this case there are difficult issues with resources.”

Route 18 runs from downtown Albany along Delaware Avenue into Delmar, where it then turns down Cherry Avenue into Slingerlands and the Vista Technology Campus. As part of CDTA’s restructuring, Route 18 was reduced from four buses each hour per stop to three each hour, every 20 minutes. Commuters asked for the fourth bus to be restored.

Scherzer explained part of that decision was based on allowing buses to travel farther to stop at the new Vista Technology Campus as part of their partnership with the town for campus employees. A portion of the parking lot has also been included as a park-and-ride location.

Riders said for the past several weeks buses have been early or late, throwing off the schedule and making them miss their buses to work. Paul Tick, a resident who spearheaded the meeting, said many commuters have been waiting nearly 30 minutes in the cold for a bus because schedules do not reflect the actual arrival times of buses. He said the late buses mean there are actually two buses stopping an hour, rather than three.

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