Capital City Shuttle

Capital City Shuttle bus

CDTA is staring up a free shuttle service this week that will run from the Warehouse District through downtown Albany to Lark Street. The "Capital City Shuttle" starts this Thursday, June 8 and will run Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights through Labor Day.

"People come here without a car. People live here, who don't have a car. People work here who don't have a car. And they need a menu of options," said CDTA executive director Carm Basile while introducing the program Tuesday. "This is just another notch on our menu of options."

Here are a few more bits about the shuttle service, along with updates about the planned regionalization of taxi service and the upcoming bike share...

Capital City Shuttle

Here are the quick details about the Capital City Shuttle service that starts up this week:

Capital City Shuttle map

+ That's the route above.

+ The shuttle will be operating Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 5 pm to 12:30 am.

+ Pick-ups will be every 20 minutes.

+ It's free to ride.

Cityfinder app

cityfinder app screenshots
Screenshots from the Cityfinder app.

There's also a mobile app to accompany the shuttle, built by the Schenectady-based company Transfinder. The app includes a map of pick-up points, realtime tracking of where the two shuttles are, and points of interest along the route that are drawn from Yelp.

The app is available for download for iOS and Android.

One of Transfinder's main businesses is routing and tracking school buses, so this sort of app was right in its lane.

The idea behind the shuttle

Capital City Shuttle Carm Basile
That's Carm Basile in the foreground.

The idea for the shuttle is that it will allow people to easily move from one entertainment spot to another within the greater downtown Albany area -- without driving or worrying about parking.

"It's really a part of a concept that we've been working on called The Downtowner," Carm Basile said after Tuesday's announcement. "Most of our service here in Albany goes into the city and out of the city. There's a need for a connector-type concept within the city. So we've been toying with that, thinking about it, and working on it."

Basile said CDTA also has plans to roll out a similar service in Schenectady.

The route for the shuttle was chosen in a collaboration among CDTA and partners such as the Albany Parking Authority and the business improvement districts for downtown Albany and Lark Street, according to Basile.

"There's growth [in the Warehouse District]. There's growth [downtown]. How do you bring them all together? I think that routing does that nicely," he said, adding that he sees eventual expansion of the route into some sort of loop encompassing more of downtown, if the shuttle is successful.

The cost of the shuttle service this summer will be $80,000, according to CDTA -- about half of that coming from the transit org, the other half from partners such as the Albany County Sheriff's Office and the beer distributor DeCrescente.

Taxi service

The unfortunate state of taxi service in the Capital Region has been a hot topic for years and now there are two things poised to potentially shake things up: the arrival of ride hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft later this month -- and regionalization of taxi service under the the watch of CDTA.

"I know it's not moving fast enough for people, but it's moving in the right direction," Basile said of the regionalization process, which was authorized by the state last year.

Basile said a common ordinance authorizing CDTA to take up the process for a group of municipalities that includes Albany, Colonie, Rensselaer, Saratoga Springs, Schenectady, and Troy is finished. The next step will be getting the individual municipalities to adopt the ordinance. (Basile said CDTA has been working with them to draft the legislation.)

Once that happens, CDTA can then get started on setting up a code of conduct for taxis, a common fare structure, and new systems for payment.

We were curious if the impending arrival of ride hailing was putting more pressure on CDTA to move things along. Basile's answer: no.

"We don't view ride sharing as Darth Vader," he said. "We view ride sharing as another menu option. And it can work with what we do."

Basile said CDTA has had general talks with both Uber and Lyft about how the transit org and the companies can get along.

"[We're] looking for common threads, how we can work together. We don't want to work with Uber just to work with Uber. We don't want to work with Lyft just to work with Lyft. ... We want to look for ways we can deepen the mobility menu."

Bike share

CDTA bike share CDPHP Cycle
What the bike share bikes will look like. / image via CDTA

A quick update on the bike share that CDTA has planned, CDPHP Cycle. Basile said the program is still set to start up late this summer -- the actual bikes are on their way, as are the stations that will be placed around urban centers of Albany, Schenectady, Troy, and Saratoga Springs.

You might remember that CDTA had asked the public for input about the location of those bike share stations. Basile said the org has most of the station locations worked out, and the green-and-white bike docks will start showing up in a few weeks.

Earlier

+ A few more details about the upcoming CDTA bike share

CDTA advertises on AOA.

Comments

What a great idea. Thank you CDTA.

I don't understand why it's free. I think it's a great option to get people to dinner and the bars, but they couldn't get folks to pay $1 for that?

We're lucky here in the Capital District to have a forward thinking and thoughtful transit Executive like Carm. Even for those who don't use transit, there are so many socialized benefits; this is just an example: helping development and the tax base and keeping intoxicated drivers off the roads.

I understand CDPHP's preference in the bike design but that is one butt-ugly color scheme.

I love this idea and applaud CDTA for making this real. I would like to see the shuttle (or A shuttle) also support the entertainment venues up on Central Ave (the Low Beat and Pauly's Hotel).

Smart move!

Why not just build a gondola?

This is an initiative we can like, but I would like to point out that it rewards people with enough money and leisure time to go out and drink . I know people who take public transit who work 2 low-paying jobs and can't do this. Shouldn't there be free transit for them as well? Just a thought.

I applaud the concept, but have to agree with the comments wondering why this particular use of public transportation privileges one small segment of the population with free rides. I'd like to take the bus (#13) to eat, drink, and shop -- where's my free ride?

This is a great idea. Regarding why this is free, it makes sense that for an initial trial run it would be. We need to see what the demand for this is and adjust accordingly. The city needs to find a viable way to connect the emerging warehouse district with lark and hence, support the Albany economy.

@gabby

Good point. But I wonder if this is a stepping stone for people that could use transit but elect not to - the more people that use transit the better. It seems to be a promo rather than a subsidy. Think about it as growing a brand.

This is a great and much needed service.....for normal adjusted people...but alas after endless shots and pints maybe mixed with some drugs and attitude.....it will likely prove dangerous at some point.....only a matter of time until first fight, stabbing, or worse. Please tell me the police will me intimately involved in protecting the riders and the drivers.

Although I have no personal knowledge, I would guess that the cost is borne by the BIDs, not CATS.

And @ BS, seriously? Yeah, with all the stabbings (and worse!) in the city's bars and restaurants , your concern is obviously well-founded.

For everyone naysaying or complaining that the effort is not applied elsewhere...you are why we can't have nice things. An easy way to get around town will help drive business, so from that standpoint, it is an investment in downtown development and tax receipts. As such, I think it should be significantly funded by the BIDs, but overall, it's a good start. If it rubs you the wrong way because it doesn't benefit a certain group of people, then maybe you should work toward something that does, instead of attempting to bring down a completely unrelated service. This is not a zero-sum game.

you're spot on @ed.

We don't have sports teams in Albany because know has figured out how to make complaining a spectator sport.

Its my understanding that the shuttle is subsidized by sponsors which is why its free.

Overall, I think its a great idea and I am looking forward to using it this summer.

For reference Baltimore has free circulator routes supplementing the regular transit service.

A wonderful effort to start a new program. hey folks...be positive! Let's give this a try and if it works like I think it will, we can send some ideas along that might add to the service and maybe improve it. I'd like to see a daytime shuttle that would link the hotels along the route to our many historic sites, hop on hop off, Cherry Hill, Schuyler Mansion, Ten Broeck, NYS museum, Albany Institute...well you get the idea. Build a good product now and we can always charge a small fee later

As a daily CDTA user who pays, I can't complain about efforts to offer a more dedicated circular service downtown, even if it’s “free.” For those who know the system, it’s not hard to make the transfers on the current lines, with minimal fuss to achieve what the circular offers. However, to the uninitiated, especially out of towners, I think the proposed circular offers some handy training wheels to get familiar with CDTA and hopefully make the leap to becoming more dedicated users of mass transit, so I see it as a long-term investment (no different than when Museums offer free Friday nights to generate sustained, repeat attendance). I find nothing more rewarding than introducing new folks to CDTA and mass transit, who often have views contrary to reality or are unsure if mass transit can match the “convenience” of conventional commute by car. More often than not, most folks I introduce to CDTA, even if they don’t use it 100%, find mass transit to be relaxing, stress-free way to get around, often allowing one to use that 20-30 minute commute to read, check email, etc. rather than focus on the road. The key is in the word “convenience” which means different things to different people and can come in different shades depending on the situation (most days, I can get to work 10 minutes faster by car, but love having the free time instead and enjoy outsourcing the angst of the road to my bus driver—sorry bus driver!; however, if time is critical, I also have a car to fall back on; it’s not all or nothing here).

often used argument against free transit is that such free bus turns into a spot for people to spend time, chat .. and what not.
Those who actually want to use it for transportation may end up finding it crowded and noisy...

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