During his portion of the State of the Town address at Colonie Center, Capital District Transportation Authority CEO Carm Basile unveiled a new program called Busplus, or Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) that will to make a 17-mile trip down the Route 5 from Schenectady to Albany in only 18 stops. It would be similar to that of a railroad service, he said.
We’re studying the same thing on Western and Washington avenues, he said. `I think over time, in the next 10 or 15 years, that’s really our big thing for the future. Bring bus service that looks like and mimics rail service, and I think development and job opportunities will follow that.`
The program will be implemented on April 4. Basile said riders can expect it to be a more comfortable and efficient route. He said because there are fewer stops, everyone on the road will have a more fluid travel experience.
CDTA Spokesperson Margo Janack said the estimated cost for the BRT is expected to be $36 million, with $16.5 million already invested in infrastructure.
`We estimate that it will cost $2 million to operate the service annually,` she said. `We are seeking additional funding to install the additional phases, which will take a few years to happen. It’s not going to happen overnight.`
The red and grey CDTA bus stops around town are part of the basic run of the service along with limited stop service. Janack said they are hoping to install wireless Internet on the buses and at the stations, along with real-time information for travelers so they know when the bus will arrive.
Janack also said CDTA is also hoping to implement fare kiosks, where riders can purchase their tickets right at the station instead of having the buy them on the bus and holding people up as they are receiving their change.
`All these elements are going to make for a better customer experience for them,` she said. `If they’re coming from downtown Albany or downtown Schenectady, they’re only stopping no more than 18 times, and it may be less if people aren’t at the stations.`
There will be a local service that will complement the main service, Janack said, where routes will be split between the main transfer station, Colonie Center mall, with one line going to Schenectady and the other going to Albany. The BRT service would be traveling straight through.
With Colonie Center being the main transfer station, General Manager Ken Huge said the mall will provide whatever information is necessary to patrons at the mall at their Guest Services department.
`We always have information here at our guest services regarding bus stops and the routes so people can get from here to wherever they need to go, and vice versa,` he said. `So we’ll do anything we can do to help in getting the word out. Especially as far as the stops are related along Central Avenue and whatever impact it might have of the Wolf Road side. We’ll be glad to help CDTA out with that.`
Colonie Town Supervisor Paula Mahan said the new service presented by CDTA will not only be good for residents but also the environment.
Mahan said the town is working closely with CDTA in implementing this program.
`We have to make sure people are aware so they can travel safely and so our police department will be aware of the traffic patterns,` she said, adding that this is a result of stimulus funds being used to improve travel between Albany and Schenectady. `It’s a whole collaborative effort between all of the communities as well as the Department of Transportation and CDTA.`
Janack said CDTA encourages people to purchase pre-paid passes as they will still be paying the normal $1.50 a ride or less depending on their amount of travel. CDTA will also be offering the new BusPlus service for free from April 4 to April 18.
`We encourage everyone to give it a try during that two-week free period,` she said. “