Items tagged with 'CDTA'

Peeking at the bike share station suggestions

bike share suggestion map 2017-04-13

Another quick follow-up on CDTA's upcoming bike share. The online suggestion and voting for bike share stations continues to run through April 30 -- and the results are being mapped.

That's a clip of the map above. The top suggestions in Albany so far are pretty much you'd expect: Washington Park, the ESP, Lark Street, the pedestrian bridge to Corning Riverfront Park, and so on. (One location that doesn't have many votes, yet, but seems like it could be a good idea: Swinburne Park near Clinton Ave, which has a bike lane.)

It looks like the other three cities -- Schenectady, Troy, and Saratoga Springs -- could use a few more suggestions and votes for stations.

There are two more upcoming public info/suggestion events for the bike share:

April 25: Saratoga Springs Recreation Center on Vanderbilt Street - 6-7:30 pm

April 26: Albany Public Library, Washington Ave Branch - 6-7:30 pm
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Earlier: A few more details about the upcoming CDTA bike share

CDTA and CDPHP advertise on AOA.

Suggestion site now open for CDTA bike share stations, public info sessions coming up

CDTA bike share CDPHP Cycle

A model of the bike share bikes. / image via CDTA

Quick follow-up to that recent post about the bike share CDTA's planning to launch later this year...

The online site to collect suggestions from the public about where the the CDPHP Cycle 20 bike stations should be located is now up and running. Blurbage:

Tell us where you want to pick up CDPHP Cycle! bikes. Use our map or download the Social Cyclist app to vote for our suggested rack locations. You can also comment on why you think it's a good spot for a CDPHP Cycle! rack. Be sure to navigate the map of your city to find suggested locations.
Decisions on rack locations will be guided with your feedback, along with the following criteria: available space, pedestrian traffic, population density, bike infrastructure, and transit options. You can also vote by downloading the free Social Cyclist mobile app, emailing cdphpcycle@CDTA.org, or calling (518) 437-6844.
Voting ends Sunday, April 30 at 11:59 p.m.

Via the suggestion site's map, there's also a peek at the initial coverage zones for the bike share in the cities of Albany, Schenectady, and Troy.

As CDTA mobility manager Bailey said in March, the overall goal of the bike share program initially will be to extend people's transportation options from nodes in the CDTA network (example: The upcoming Uncle Sam Transit Center), and to cover short-distance trips within downtowns. The second phase of the program will focus on reaching out farther into neighborhoods with additional bikes.

Public events (updated)

There are also a series of upcoming public info sessions, where you'll be able to ask questions, offer suggestions, and see one of the bikes that will be used in the system...

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A look at the plan for new bus and pedestrian amenities at Lark and Washington in Albany

Washington and Lark looking east 2017-March

The spot where Washington Ave, Central Ave, and Lark Street run together in Albany is one of the city's busier intersections -- and not just because of cars. It also funnels many of the most popular bus routes into downtown, and it bustles with pedestrians from the surrounding walkable neighborhoods.

And this summer it's getting a bit of a makeover as part of a plan to reconfigure CDTA's facilities around the intersection.

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A few more details about the upcoming CDTA bike share

CDTA bike share CDPHP Cycle

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

CDTA announced Monday that is now has a name and sponsor for its upcoming bike share program: CDPHP Cycle! (with the exclamation mark). The system is set to launch this summer.

Planning for this two-year bike share pilot has been in the works since last year, and there are now a few more details about how it's taking shape...

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CDTA's new fare smart cards are now available

CDTA Navigator card in hand

This Navigator card belongs to Albany Public Library executive director Scott Jarzombek. He was at today's public roll out of the new system because APL employees -- including himself -- were using the cards during a pilot test over the past year. (APL has a universal access agreement with CDTA for employees to ride the bus.)

CDTA opened its new Navigator fare card to the general public Thursday. The new system includes a bunch of potential benefits for riders as well as the transit org -- and it opens some interesting possibilities for transportation in the Capital Region that extend beyond the bus (hello, taxis).

"It makes everything quicker, everything more convenient," CDTA CEO Carm Basile said Thursday. "But most importantly, the customer manages their own account. They do what they want to do when they want to do it and how they want do it."

Here's a quick overview, along with a few bits about the upcoming bike share and a common taxi system for the Capital Region.

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CDTA: Bike share planned for next summer

Capital Region bike share demo project bikes

Some of the bikes used during the 2014 Capital Region bike share demonstration project.

CDTA is planning to start its new bike share pilot next summer, the transit org said Wednesday.

It was one of the details the accompanied the announcement that CDTA has selected the company Social Bicycles as the operator of the two-year pilot program. The company runs bike shares in a bunch of cities around the country.

Bike share press release blurbage:

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CDTA wants to know what you think about taxi service in this area

CDTA taxi survey screengrabCDTA has posted an online survey looking for feedback and ideas about taxi service in the Capital Region. Blurbage:

The questionnaire offers an opportunity for riders to provide comments on previous experiences and what they would like to see moving forward to enhance their taxi experience.
"We see this as a chance to receive feedback on what people want to see from this industry moving forward," said CDTA Chief Executive Officer Carm Basile. We are excited to enhance the menu of mobility options across the Capital Region."
In addition to the customer questionnaire and common ordinance, CDTA will focus on adding other customer support systems, including a new web page with detailed information about local taxi services and the integration of its call center for taxi services.

We skimmed through the survey and we're guessing it would probably take most people no more than five minutes to complete.

But, you might be thinking, CDTA is the bus org -- why is it focused on taxis?

Because it's also now in position to create a regional taxi system for the Capital Region thanks to a new law that passed during the last state legislative session. The legislation allows local municipalities to opt-in to a setup in which CDTA would serve as an administrator for taxi (and taxi driver) licensing and a common complaint system. The idea is to create common standards across municipalities for taxi companies, drivers, and riders.

Or, to boil it way down, the goal is to create a common taxi system here that's less confusing and doesn't routinely disappoint people.

So this survey is one way to speak up about what you'd like to see. If past surveys are any indication, people have a lot to say about taxi service in this area.

The Capital Region's transit arteries

CDTA system ridership 2015-2016 static map

Total ridership per route during the last fiscal year. Is there a clickable, zoomable map inside? You know there is...

Which CDTA bus lines get the most riders?

The news earlier this year that CDTA set another annual ridership record -- and the recent batch of service changes on some of its most popular routes -- got us curious about ridership across the whole CDTA system.

So, of course, we had to make some clickable maps. Let's have a look.

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Big batch of upcoming CDTA schedule adjustments

cdta_bus_10_downtown_albany_2.jpgCDTA has a bunch of schedule adjustments set to start August 28. The transit org is touting the adjustments as "the largest set of service enhancements" it's rolled out during the last five years.

Many of the adjustments are aimed at increasing the frequency of buses. One that caught our eye right away: During the UAlbany school year, the #12 bus that runs along Washington Ave between downtown Albany and Crossgates will have a frequency of every 8 minutes from 2-6 pm on weekdays (current frequency is 10 minutes). If CDTA can keep that up, it would be a remarkably short time period between buses.

A list of the service adjustments is after the jump.

CDTA is coming another fiscal year in which it posted record-high ridership, thanks in part to the "universal access" agreements its reached with many institutions during the last few years. Ridership is up 25 percent over the last five years.

By the way: If you ride the bus and have a smartphone, it's definitely worth downloading the CDTA iRide app which has realtime projections of when buses will arrive at specific stops. (Tip: Save your frequent stops in the app's favorite stops listing. Next time you're at the stop, just punch in the code number for the stop -- it's printed on the bus stop sign.)

We use it all time, and it's become such an automatic check that it's hard imagine riding the bus without it.

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Thinking about Capital Region light rail

MBTA Green Line train Wikipedia user Pi.1415926535 CC

An example of light rail in the Northeast: The MBTA Green Line near Boston. / photo: Wikipedia user Pi.1415926535 (CC BY-SA 3.0)

By Sandy Johnston

A couple of weeks ago I tackled the question of whether the Capital Region should build a commuter rail system, answering with a resounding "maybe... at least not yet."

As promised then, today I'm taking on whether our area should embrace a different mode of rail transit: light rail.

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New York State could be closer to allowing Uber and Lyft to operate here. Maybe. Sort of.

uber app sample screenshots

Sample screenshots from the Uber app.

It's been more than two years since a local campaign started to get "ride sharing" services such as Uber and Lyft to come to the Capital Region. And, as it turned out, a big obstacle to those services operating here and in other non-NYC parts of the state is the way New York's laws are configured.

But now the state legislature is on the verge of removing that obstacle. Probably. Maybe.

Here's the situation -- and a glimpse at one possible related future.

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Another year of record-high CDTA bus ridership

CDTA 10 bus downtown Albany

CDTA announced this week that it had more than 17.1 million passenger boardings during the fiscal year that ended in March -- a record high for the transit org. It's the third straight year CDTA has set a new annual ridership record.

Boardings were up 1 percent compared the previous fiscal year. And CDTA says they're up 25 percent compared to five years ago.

What's driving the increase? One big factor appears to be the increasing number of "universal access" agreements CDTA has formed with multiple organizations (such as local colleges) in recent years, under which people connected with the orgs are provided unlimited free rides. CDTA says boardings that are part of this program now make up 25 percent of all the systems rides.

CDTA ridership hit low point during the late 1990s and has been trending upward overall since then. After the jump there's a graph of the numbers from 1980 to now.

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Comparing transit service both within the Capital Region and beyond

alltransit albany-schenectady-troy map

Check out the map clip above -- it's from a new site called AllTransit and it shows the number of transit routes within mile for places around the Albany-Schenectady-Troy area. (There's an interactive version at that link.) The brighter the yellow, the higher the number of routes.

AllTransit has all sorts of maps and rankings and data like this for metros all around the country. Here's a whole bunch of potential uses for info, broken out by type of person who might be using it (city residents, business owners, elected officials, and so on).

The maps might first draw your eye, but the rankings and scores are interesting for getting a bit of context about relative levels of transit services both (with)in the Capital Region and elsewhere. For example, the Albany-Schenectady-Troy metro ranks #42 among metros with more than 500k people for AllTransit's Performance Score, "an overall transit score that looks at connectivity, access to jobs, and frequency of service," with a score of 3.39. But, as you might expect, if you look within the metro area, there is a lot of variation. For example: The city of Albany's performance score is 7.8, the city of Schenectady's is 6.3, and areas of Clifton Park range from 1.4 to 0.

[via CityLab]

screengrab from AllTransit

The potential impact of bus rapid transit

cleveland healthline BRT

Cleveland's HealthLine was rated one of the highest quality BRT lines in the nation for its incorporation of multiple BRT features. / photo: Wikipedia user GoddardRocket

Whenever the topic of public transportation comes up around here, there's often a clamor for some sort of light rail. The reasons for that are probably an interesting topic all on their own. But one some level, it doesn't matter -- because building out a light rail system is probably not going to happen anytime in either the short or medium-term future because of cost.

But the Capital Region is moving toward a system that's more than "just" the bus: CDTA is working to build out bus rapid transit (BRT) -- BusPlus. There's already the line that runs along Route 5 between Albany and Schenectady. And CDTA is trying to pull together the funding for two more lines: one that would run along Western/Washington corridor (including UAlbany, SUNY Poly, and Crossgates) and another that would connect downtown Albany/Watervliet/Troy/Cohoes/Waterford via Route 32.

Of course, one of the criticisms of bus rapid transit is that it's actually more "bus" than "rapid transit."

But a new study concludes that BRT appears to have prompted small but significant differences in a handful of cities around the United States. Specifically, BRT stations appear to be attracting jobs (especially higher-wage jobs, perhaps pushing out lower-wage jobs), higher rents for office spaces, and more multi-family building development compared to other similar spots without BRT stations. They also found that BRT appears to be lowering transportation costs for nearby households.

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The Purple Line

The idea of dedicated road for the proposed BusPlus "purple" line along the Western/Washington corridor has come up here a few times. And, if you're anything like us, it's easier to get a picture what that could look like by... actually seeing a picture.

So, check out the video embedded above -- it's a CDTA promo video that shows how the dedicated busway through the Harriman State Office Campus, UAlbany uptown campus, Crossgates would work.

The purple line is one of two new BusPlus routes for which CDTA is trying line things up -- the other is the "blue" line, which would run between Albany and Waterford along the river. CDTA recently announced it's moving ahead with detailed planning for the new lines.

By the way: Watching that video about the dedicated busway, we couldn't help thinking that maybe it'd be possible to build a protected bike lane alongside that corridor.

[via TSTC]

Earlier on AOA:
+ Planning for how we'll all get around the Capital Region in the future
+ A few more bits about the proposed BusPlus Washington-Western line

People are riding the bus more often

CDTA bus in downtown Albany

CDTA announced this week that is had more than 17 million boardings in the fiscal year that ended this past March -- that's the highest total in the transit org's history. And it's the second straight year that CDTA's ridership number has set an all-time record.

The org reports that ridership is up 23 percent over the last five years. And a large chunk of its ridership now falls under "universal access" agreements it's struck with local colleges and employers during the last few years. CDTA says riders using the system under these agreements represented more than 4 million boardings last year.

So, put simply, people are riding the bus more often.

We were curious for some historical context, so we got a hold of CDTA ridership numbers over its history and did a few comparisons...

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CDTA Navigator

CDTA Navigator Card

CDTA shared a few more details today about the fare payment system that's in the works. The transit org will be pilot testing the system this year, and could start rolling it out by the end of 2015.

A few bits about the upcoming "Navigator" smart cards:

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CDTA now offering realtime bus info

iride realtime bus info

From the iRide app.

CDTA officially announced today that it's now offering realtime info for regular route bus arrivals.* The functionality has previously only been available on BusPlus. Blurbage:

Customers will be able to access real time transit information for CDTA fixed route services through the free CDTA iride mobile application for Apple and Android devices, through Google Maps' mobile apps and maps.google.com, through the trip planner on its website (www.cdta.org) or by speaking with a customer service representative at CDTA's Call Center. Customers will now see a gray clock icon near a route that indicates real time information is available. Real time is currently not available on Northway Xpress service. ...
CDTA tracks its vehicles using GPS devices to report bus location data back to its servers. This information allows CDTA to estimate when the buses will arrive at a stop. If a bus goes off its regular route, the system may not be able to fully predict accurate arrival times.

Here are screenshots of the realtime info display on both Google Maps and the CDTA website.

As long as the realtime info is accurate, the function is a nice addition. In our experience, some CDTA routes and stops tend to have reliable arrival times -- and others less so. (Yep, we're looking at you #10. We know it's not totally your fault what with all the traffic lights and riders. But you've interpreted the concept of a "schedule" very loosely.)

By the way: If you ride the bus, even just occasionally, and you have a smartphone -- definitely get the iRide app if you don't have it already.

* This function has been at least partially active for at least a few days. Thanks to the person who pointed this out to us last week.

CDTA was a sponsor of the Rail, River, Hudson tour.

Info sessions on new CDTA smart cards and mobile payments

CDTA new farebox illustrationPay by mobile phone to ride the bus?

CDTA isn't there, yet -- but it hopes to be by next year. This week the transit org is starting a series of public outreach sessions to discuss its plans for new smart card and mobile ticket options. The fare payment options are made possible by the new fare boxes that have been popping up on buses.

The transit org says the proposed new system won't affect base fares -- they're focused on prepayment options.

The first meeting is this Wednesday in Clifton Park. There will be five other meetings during August at various spots around the Capital Region. Schedule is at that first link.

CDTA was a sponsor of the Rail, River, Hudson trip.

CDTA sets annual ridership record

CDTA #10Transportation fact of the day: CDTA recorded 16.49 million boardings during its last fiscal year* -- a new annual record, according to the transit org. The previous all-time record was from FY 1983.

CDTA's on a remarkable upswing in ridership over the last few years. It's seen increases each of the last three years. And the just-ended fiscal year is up more than 2.5 million boardings compared to 2010-2011 -- an increase of almost 20 percent. (ridership totals via CDTA Historical Performance Data)

A question we're curious about, though it probably can't be answered with great accuracy via the data: How many individual people rode the bus during that year? It'd be interesting to see if the bus is appealing to more people, or the people who are already riding it are riding it more often.

As we've said before, riding the bus can be a good experience, and not just because you don't have a car or some other sort of transportation option. In some cases it can be a superior experience to driving because you don't have to deal with parking, the stress of traffic, and you can just zone out or read along the way. The CDTA system isn't without flaws -- anyone who rides the bus regularly will have their frustrations, we know we do. But we suspect there's a not-insignificant chunk of people who might enjoy/prefer riding the bus regularly -- they just don't know, yet.

* CDTA's fiscal year runs from April-March.

An updated mobile app for riding CDTA

cdta iride mobile app 2 screenshots

Screenshots from route map and stop info screens.

There's a new CDTA "iRide" mobile app out this week. And after playing around with it for a day or so, we like it better than the old one.

CDTA blurbage on what the new app includes:

The new iRide application offers intuitive searches by route, specific bus stops or Capital Region landmarks. Schedule maps have been updated and turn by turn directions are now included. The iRide app is GPS-enabled and offers the nearest stops by proximity to the actual location.

The new version is currently available for iOS. CDTA says an Android version is scheduled for March.

In our experience the functions we need most from a bus system app are pretty simple: what's the route map, and when's the next bus arriving? And the new app so far feels like an upgrade -- both functions are easy to find and use. The "stop info" screens -- offering the next scheduled arrival times for a stop -- are straightforward and simple (a good thing).

One thing we'd still like to see improved: Better indications about which stops are for which directions on a route. Listing two stops by the same name -- because they're right across the street from each other -- is something less than helpful because you have to figure out which side of the street, and thus which direction, is which. Maybe it's something for the next version.

As we've said before, we suspect there are a fair of number of people who might actually like riding the bus -- they just don't know it, yet. And that's understandable. If you don't ride the bus regularly, switching over is a change in routine and takes a bit of effort. We've found that using a mobile app helps in this regard. So if you've been thinking about giving the bus a shot, the app is a good place to start.

By the way: CDTA says this app is part of its longer term plan to eventually allow riders to pay fares with smartcards or smartphones.

A few more bits about the proposed BusPlus Washington-Western line

proposed cdta busplus busway harriman campus

On Wednesday CDTA announced that its board had voted to take another step toward the proposed expansion of the BusPlus bus rapid transit system to the Western-Washington corridor -- AKA, The Purple Line. This bit from the announcement caught our eye (emphasis added):

The [official designation of the preference for this plan] includes construction of a dedicated busway through the Harriman Office Campus and the University at Albany, a transit center at Crossgates Mall, and high-volume stop locations.

The "dedicated busway" was news to us -- and we were curious about what it meant. CDTA's Jonathan Scherzer explained:

We are working with both the University and [state Office of General Services] on the inclusion of a dedicated roadway that would be used exclusively for transit, maintenance and shuttle vehicles. The current design would face the soon to be completed Campus Center on the UAlbany campus while also providing good proximity to the new football stadium to ease traffic.

That rendering above projects what the lane might look like on the office campus (it appears to be the Western Ave side of the campus, near the campus access road).

As we've said before, bus rapid transit is probably the closest this region will come to any sort of light rail-type system in the not-way-distant future. Building this sort of infrastructure -- the busway, the transit center -- looks like a good step toward making BusPlus a real system, something more than just an express bus, which could be key to its longterm success. Because there's a line of thought that making BRT more than "just the bus" is key to it gaining a broader crowd of users.

See also: CDTA chief renews call for downtown Albany transit hub [Biz Review]

After the jump: A bonus rendering of the proposed transit center at Crossgates, and a pdf info sheet about the proposed Purple Line.

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Expanding BusPlus on two lines

busplus proposed expansion map

CDTA released proposed maps for its planned expansion of the BusPlus bus rapid transit system. There's a map above (and a larger version).

The current BusPlus line runs along Route 5 between Albany and Schenectady (Central Ave in Albany and Colonie/State Street in Schenectady). The two proposed lines would run along two corridors:

+ Washington Ave/Western Ave in Albany and Guilderland, serving stops such as UAlbany (both downtown and uptown), Saint Rose, the Harriman state office campus, and Crossgates.

+ The "River Corridor," running from the Port of Albany north through Menands, Watervliet, over to Troy, and eventually in Cohoes and Waterford.

CDTA says Washington/Western (3.4 million annual boardings) and Albany/Menands/Troy (2 million annual boardins) are its 2nd and 3rd most-traveled corridors. The Route 5 corridor tops that chart.

The routes for the new lines are still in the proposal stage. There will be a public "open house" to get public feedback on the Washington/Western line on November 12 at UAlbany's downtown campus (5-7 pm, Milne Hall).

And, of course, there's the matter of money. The first BusPlus took about $25 million in funding to get going. CDTA is hoping to score federal money for the new expansion -- Chuck Schumer was in town to pledge help with that.

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CDTA: Ridership at highest level in three decades

CDTA Bus 10

There were almost 15.7 million passenger boardings on CDTA buses during the fiscal year that ended in March -- that's up 5 percent from the year before. And the transit org says it's the highest level in three decades.

CDTA attributes the rise to the introduction of the BusPlus service between Albany and Schenectady. Ridership is up 20 percent along that corridor since the bus rapid transit system started. Another program pushing ridership: deals with colleges and businesses to provide students/employees with unlimited bus ridership.

There's a lot to like about riding the bus, especially on shorter trips within cities. We like being able to hop on the bus and not worry about finding parking wherever we're going. And it's nice to just be able to zone out or read along the way. It can actually be kind of relaxing. Or to put it another way: the opportunity cost of driving is probably higher than most people realize -- especially when you have a smartphone -- and riding the bus is way to cash in on that.

Earlier on AOA:
+ A few things about riding the bus
+ The not-so-rapid rise of bus rapid transit

Office for rent, with easy access to train

rensselaer train stationReal estate listing of the day: the entire fourth floor of the train station in Rensselaer. From the CDTA brochure (the transit org operates the station):

There is approximately 8600 RSF of Class A office space available, which encompasses the entire 4th floor of the station. The space is available in its entirety or it can be subdivided into 2 suites, one with 3150 RSF and 5450 RSF respectively. This Class A space provides flexibility due to its current configuration, which includes executive offices, group working areas (bullpens), separate restrooms and lobby, regular offices, a large boardroom, a kitchen and an open mezzanine overlooking the main concourse of the station. The entire floor is encompassed with full height glass providing a great view of the main concourse

The space is $15/square foot, parking included.

Station architectural note: The train station's 17-foot dome is "handmade and
constructed entirely of copper."

(Thanks, Peter!)

Earlier on AOA: Gawking at Kiernan Plaza (the former train station, in Albany)

Slingerlands ShopRite opening at end of September

vista technology campus signShopRite announced today that its new store at the Vista Technology Campus in Slingerlands (on Route 85) will open September 30. (press release post jump)

The store is the third of four the chain is aiming to open in this area. A Niskayuna location opened a year ago and the Albany location opened in April. A fourth location is planned for Colonie. Coincidentally or not (probably not), all those spots are close to Price Chopper locations. In fact, the Slingerlands location is literally right across the road from the Chopper there. [Biz Review]

The chain says the new store will offer the "ShopRite from Home" delivery service. That's apparently been popular here -- the company is expanding its Niskayuna store to make more room for the service. [Biz Review]

Interesting non-grocery bit: ShopRite says the Slingerlands location will include a park and ride lot for CDTA routes #13 (New Scotland Ave) and #18 (Delaware Ave). Both those routes run into downtown Albany.

Earlier on AOA: Delivery! Comparing ShopRite from Home and Price Chopper Shops4U

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The not-so-rapid rise of bus rapid transit

busplus stationThere's an interesting article in Governing on the growing popularity of bus rapid transit systems (BRT) -- like CDTA's BusPlus. A short clip:

Generally, the thinking among U.S. transit officials is that "choice riders" -- those who don't have to take transit but opt to because of its convenience -- are willing to ride subways, light rail and streetcars, but not buses. Advocates of BRT argue that bus service itself isn't the problem; it's the way the service is implemented. Offer riders buses that are fast, clean and safe, they say, and passengers will embrace them. "If you build it right, people will come," says Janette Sadik-Khan, New York City's transportation commissioner. "People aren't going to get on dirty buses that are slow."

The article hits on the potential of such systems, but also their problems and critics -- including those who say that BRT is just a decision to "cheap out" on building more robust systems like light rail.

When transportation issues come up here, people often call out for light rail. But here's the thing: the chances of that ever happening in the Capital Region are very small. Building such a system would cost a ton of money (that Governing article mentions the projected cost of 7 miles of light rail in Cleveland was $1 billion). And it would be a political nightmare -- any worthwhile system here would cross numerous municipal lines, requiring the cooperation (or at least non-opposition) of a long string of county and local governments. It'd be like setting off an atomic NIMBY bomb.

BusPlus isn't perfect -- far from it. CDTA needs to keep adding features and make the system faster in order to at least fulfill its initial promise. And it will have to expand the service to make it more than a Albany-Schenectady express line. There's a long way to go. But it's probably the closest thing we'll get to a transit rail system.

[via @drewbkerr]

A few things about riding the bus

cdta bus downtown albany

Please have your swiper ready when the bus stops.

By AOA Greg

The battery died. That's why I became a semi-regular bus rider.

When the battery finally conked out for good on one of our cars, it was going to be a day or two before I'd be able to buy a new one to replace it. And my wife needed the car the next day -- so I took the bus downtown.

That ride started a mostly unplanned experiment in becoming a one-car household. We had kicked around the idea of not replacing our older car whenever its time came to be donated/junked/Craigslisted. But talking about that and actually doing that are two different things. So, the dead battery was an opportunity to try it out.

We still have the car, but we haven't driven it in about two months. In that time I've become a semi-regular bus rider.

Here are a few things I've learned, remembered, or noted along the way...

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On the bus. On the phone.

phone on busWe were a little taken a back today when this woman pulled out an old-school phone handset on the bus -- and started having a conversation.

It turned out it the handset was plugged into an iPhone. The woman had what looked like a notebook and pen and other stuff -- just talking on the phone, getting stuff done, like she was in any office.

The bus is often more interesting than driving.

The yin and yang of CDTA

a CDTA bus

Riding the bus: The good, the bad and the human grill of regret.

By Leigh Cummings

Let's face it: unless you live and work in the same building, commuting just about anywhere in the Capital District can be an exercise in cultivating patience. Using public transportation is no exception and, like driving, has its own colorful variety of stresses and pleasures.

I get around almost exclusively by public transportation, which has its own pleasures and challenges: from the people you meet (awesome to...less awesome), near death experiences, simple (and not so simple) kindnesses, and the zen of commuting.

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Now on BusPlus: wi-fi, text alerts, bus tracking, queue jumping

CDTA announced today that it's added a bunch of digital tools for riders -- and the implementation of an important part of its "bus rapid transit" system.

First, the stuff for riders. Among the features that are part of "BusTime":
+ Predicted arrival times online for the next 2-3 buses
+ Real-time bus tracking on a map
+ Text alerts for bus arrivals

We tried out the tracking map this afternoon. It's kind of fun watching the buses move along the BusPlus route on Route 5.

Also: BusPlus now has wi-fi.

Queue jumping and signal priority

One of the touted advantages of BusPlus is that the buses will move along the Route 5 corridor faster than traffic (rapid, you might even say). And part of the system that theoretically makes that possible are "queue jumpers" and "signal priority." From the blurbage:

Queue jumper and traffic signal priority systems, considered key characteristics of bus rapid transit services, give buses priority at intersections, helping to improve traffic flow and enhance safety. Queue jumpers are short sections of "bus only" lanes that allow transit vehicles to "jump the queue" of waiting cars at congested intersections. The queue jumpers are installed and fully operational along Route 5 at three locations: Wolf Road Westbound, New Karner Road (West Bound) and Nott Terrace (Eastbound.) CDTA's first queue jumpers were introduced to the Capital Region in June 2003, and installed at the CDTA Fulton and 3rd and Fulton and 4th bus stops in Troy, New York.
Traffic Signal Priority employs technology that gives buses an extra 6 second lead-time ahead of other vehicles when running behind schedule. Traffic Signal Priority systems are installed at 44 intersections along the 17-mile corridor between downtown Albany and downtown Schenectady.

The video above demonstrates the queue jumper and signal priority in a virtual Colonie.

If all this stuff works, it should be pretty cool. And it's probably about as close to light rail as the Capital Region will ever get. CDTA plans to eventually expand BusPlus to the Western Ave and Washington Ave corridors.

CDTA route restructuring for Albany County

cdta route restructure map Albany County 2011-11

A clip from the reconfigured system map. A larger version is embedded after the jump.

CDTA is reconfiguring its routes in Albany County, starting on Sunday (November 13). The transit org is touting it as "the largest service change" in the authority's history. From the blurbage about the changes:

Improved Trunk Routes -- CDTA trunk routes operate seven (7) days a week, from early morning until late night. Customers using Routes #6, #7, #12, & #18 will see increased frequency, later night and New Sunday service and consistent trip patterns with no deviations.
New Neighborhood Network -- Neighborhood routes will improve service to destinations outside of downtown Albany by:
+ Establishing additional cross-town service
+ Increasing level of service on streets with high ridership
+ Providing new service to areas with high demand
Improved Commuter Routes -- Provide more direct, peak period connections throughout Albany County to customer-requested locations including Albany International Airport, Corporate Woods, Harriman State Campus, Ohav Shalom and Stonehenge Apartment Complexes along with Patroon Creek Boulevard.

You might have noticed the blue bags over route signs along the road -- this is what those are about.

Here's a listing of the new schedules. A map of the restructured routes is embedded after the jump.

CDTA says routes in Albany County represent "well over 50%" of its ridership. So this is a big deal. Even more so if it actually makes the system more useful to people.

(there's more)

How long from here?

mapnificient albany

Fifteen minutes from Lark and Washington on CDTA.

This is somewhat interesting/fun: Mapnificient, an online mapping app, can project how far you can travel on public transit in the Capital District in a given amount of time. A screengrab is above. The easiest way to understand it is to just try it.

Mapnificient is the creation of Stefan Wehrmeyer, web developer in Germany. It reminds of us of similar maps we've seen for London.

Modestly useful in the Capital District? Sure. Fun to play with? Definitely.

[we're sure this is via someone... but we've forgotten... sorry]

screengrab: Mapnificient

The one-car household: a car junkie cuts back

By Martin Daley

soapbox badgeI am what you may call a recovering car junkie.

I. Love. Cars.

I've had over 10 of them -- even a couple of classics. And I still pine for the restored 1986 Jeep CJ-7 I once owned.

But a couple of years ago a muffler shop noticed a ton of frame rust on my barely-broken-in Toyota Tacoma and told me about a buyback program created to address the problem. After a month of back and forth, Toyota eventually bought my beloved truck back.

Since then, we've been a single car household.

Here's how it's worked out.

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BusPlus launches

busplus stationCDTA's new BusPlus service is now officially running along Route 5 between Albany and Schenectady.

BusPlus is a "bus rapid transit" system -- it features fewer stops than a regular route and "transit signal priority" at some intersections (that is, it gets to go through traffic lights), and upgraded stops. It's a bit like light rail -- but, you know, without the rails.

CDTA says the new Route 5 BusPlus line between Albany and Schenectady has 18 stops each way, as opposed to 90 stops on the regular line. It says the travel time should be shorter as a result.

The transit org says it picked Route 5 for the first line because it's the busiest travel corridor in the region and accounts for 25 percent of the system's boardings. It says it has plans to next expand the service to Western and Washington Avenues in Albany. There's a lot riding on BusPlus (pun intended) -- the total project cost for BusPlus is estimated to be $36.5 million (more than $16 million is coming from federal stimulus money).

The BusPlus fare will be $2 ($1.50 if you have a swiper card). But it's free the first two weeks. The buses are marked differently than the regular blue CDTA buses -- they're red and silver.

Has anyone tried it out BusPlus during regular service? We'd like to hear about it.

40 cent fare on CDTA Thursday

40 centsRides on CDTA will be 40 cents on Thursday. The transit org is offering the special fare to commemorate its 40th anniversary.

The fare is good on CDTA's regular route, STAR, and NX Northway Commuter buses. But to get the special price, you must to have exact change -- neither the drivers nor fare boxes can give change.

The CDTA iPhone app

cdta iphone app screenshots

Screenshots from the app.

CDTA released an update to its iPhone app this week, so we decided to check it out. And it's pretty cool.

The app has four primary functions: map, stop finder, trip planner, advisories. The map alone would be worth a download, but the other functions are helpful, too -- especially if you don't ride the same route all the time or you're not a hardcore CDTA rider.

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Can cars and bikes coexist in the Capital Region?

capital coexist tom benware

Tom Benware

By Kalyn Belsha

Tom Benware might have passed you in traffic. On his bike. Which was on the side of a bus.

Tom appears on a CDTA bus as a part of a new initiative launched in April encouraging Capital Region motorists and cyclists to share the road.

In real life, the Delmar resident is a transportation guru, public transit advocate and 1,000-mile-a-year cyclist. He worked at the state Department of Transportation for 14 years and now he's the senior legislative analyst for the New York State Senate Transportation Committee. Just last week he helped advance new legislation that would require New York roads be designed with all users in mind - not just drivers.

I took a moment to talk with Tom about biking in the Capital Region, his favorite places to ride and what it's like to see yourself on the side of a bus.

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Price Chopper gas discount for CDTA fares

cdta fuel advantedge

$50 at PC = $2 off a CDTA pass

Price Chopper has extended its Fuel AdvantEdge gas discount program to CDTA fares.

Here's how it works: This discount is based on 10 cents/gallon up to 20 gallon discount for gas. So for every $50 you spend at Price Chopper (while swiping your AdvantEdge card, of course), they'll knock $2 off the price of an eligible bus pass (31 day rolling, 10 day trip, Star tickets). Spend $100, save $4 on a bus pass. Spend $150, save $6. And so on. (As with the discount for gas, the credits can be used once and expire after 90 days.)

Here's a brochure that lists all the details.

The Chopper and CDTA are touting this program as maybe the first of its kind in the nation. They're running it for a 90-day trial period (now to May), "with the option to continue contingent upon its success."

photo: Price Chopper

Shooting death in Albany, Bruno says he feels vindicated, sheriff says DWI sweep netted mother with kids, forklift used for robbery

Albany Police say a man was found shot and killed at an apartment complex on North Pearl Street late last night (map). There have now been three shooting deaths in Albany during the last 11 days. [TU] [WNYT]

Prompted by the recent spike in violent crime, three Albany Common Council members -- including mayoral candidate Corey Ellis -- called on the city yesterday to implement the recommendations of the Gun Violence Task Force, which issued its final report in January. Jerry Jennings said yesterday that he was tired of people "politicizing the tragedies we are having in the city." [TU] [CapNews9]

While Andrew Cuomo's investigation of the State Police (pdf) did not find evidence of special political unit, the AG's office says it found "several troubling situations in which, at the highest levels of the State Police, political considerations played an improper and determinative role." In a letter, David Paterson said he was concerned about "troubling politicization of certain actions and decisions that occurred at highest levels of the State Police." This investigation grew out of the "Troopergate" scandal -- in which Joe Bruno accused the Spitzer Administration of using state police to spy on him. Bruno said yesterday that the report makes him feel "totally vindicated." [NYS AG] [TU] [NYT] [CapNews9]

The state Committee on Open Government has concluded that the Schenectady School District should have released the entire report produced by its Steven Raucci investigation. [Daily Gazette $]

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CDTA route and stop changes

Thumbnail image for Busatoga.jpgCDTA is in the process of pruning its routes. Some lightly-used lines are being pared back. And some stops are being consolidated to "reduce travel-times and improve on-time performance."

The list of changes is after the jump. It looks like most of the stop consolidations will be in Albany and Troy.

(there's more)

State AG's office investigating Espada, man pleads guilty to killing son, CDTA trimming routes, Mine That Bird out of Travers

Andrew Cuomo's office is investigating whether Pedro Espada was something less than forthcoming when filling out a form for a $3 million state grant for his Bronx health care org. [TU]

David Paterson signed a bill that makes it illegal in most cases to shackle a prison inmate during childbirth. [AP/CBS6]

Glenn Vosburgh, the Coeymans man accused of killing his son last spring, pleaded guilty to manslaughter yesterday in a deal that will send him to prison for 19 years. Vosburgh said he was intoxicated when he shot his son in the back. [TU] [Fox23] [CapNews9]

Last night's Schenectady school board meeting included pointed criticism from the crowd as Linda Bellick, who lost in the last board election, was appointed to fill a recently vacated spot. Bellick's remarks during the meeting were stopped by the district's attorney after Bellick started talking about the not-publicly-released Steven Raucci report. [WNYT] [TU]

(there's more)

Espada's son resigning from Senate job, sheriff's deputy arrested, council members got ghost tickets, Novella says she's changed, Skidmore's rep up in smoke

Pedro Espada says his son will be resigning the $120k/year state Senate job that was created for him. The resignation comes after Andrew Cuomo's office said it was looking into whether the hiring violated state ethics laws. It also came out yesterday that Pedro the Younger apparently had not been showing up for his new job. Big Pedro said last night the resignation was "appropriate," though he continued to insist the hiring had not been nepotism. [TU] [NYT] [NY Post] [Daily Politics]

Also among the state Senate Democrats' recent hires: a former member of the governor's staff who was let go after the state Inspector General's office described him as "immature," "irresponsible" and "ill-suited." [TU]

A Saratoga County Sheriff's deputy was arrested Tuesday night after a woman accused him of forcing her into a sex act with him. The sheriff's department says the deputy was on duty in his uniform -- and the woman in his patrol car -- when the alleged act occurred (the Gazette says it was oral). The deputy and woman apparently already knew each other. [TU] [Saratogian] [Daily Gazette] [Post-Star]

Colonie supervisor Paula Mahan says the town's $19.5 million deficit has almost been cut in half. The special one-time deficit reduction tax accounted for $5.5 million. Mike Hoblock, Mahan's Republican opponent for the supervisor position, questioned whether the town was really that far in the hole to start. [CBS6] [CapNews9] [TU]

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Change in the CDTA driver's seat

cdta busWe're still awaiting on official confirmation, but word is Ray Melleady, CDTA's executive director, is resigning at the end of this month to take a job in the private sector. (Melleady has apparently now confirmed this to the Daily Gazette.)

There's been a lot going on at CDTA over the last few years. The single-ride fare went up 50 cents in April. Ridership has been trending upward. And the org is working on its new Bus Rapid Transit system that will run along Rt 5 between Albany and Schenectady.

Melleady's farewell email after the jump.

(Thanks, Anonymous and others)

(there's more)

Murder in Albany, Schenectady cops could get tasers, Hudson river dredging stopped again, Cohoes considers closing barn door

Albany police say a man was shot and killed in his apartment on Western Ave Sunday morning. They say they don't have a suspect, but it appears that shooter was someone the man knew. The location of this shooting, 158 Western Ave, is less than half-a-mile from where UAlbany student Richard Bailey was shot last year. [CBS6] [TU] [Google Maps]

Among the details from the state auditor's Albany ghost ticket report: a former Albany cop was put on the VIP list after he complained about getting tickets while working at his job at the state Education Department -- he then racked up 573 no-fine tickets. Jerry Jennings released a statement Friday that said his administration would be working with the Common Council to "quickly adopt a corrective action plan" for the city's parking ticket system. Said mayoral candidate Corey Ellis in statement released Friday: ""This report clearly shows that Mayor Jennings' administration is incapable of properly managing the issuance and collection of parking fines, a system that should be simple and straightforward." [AOA] [TU] [CapNews9] [Ellis press release not online]

Schenectady police chief Mark Chaires says he pushing for the department's officers to get tasers. The family of the man shot and killed by the SPD last week questioned why a non-lethal measure wasn't used in that situation. [TU] [CapNews9]

The state announced it will be building a new $40 million food safety lab at the Harriman State Office Campus. Where that leaves the plan to turn the campus over to private development is apparently anyone's guess. [Troy Record] [TU]

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Another gap in the state budget, foreclosure rates stay low, authority moves to buy Albany's oldest building, big plans for bus rapid transit

The state Division of Budget is projecting that New York will be short $2.1 billion during this fiscal year. The reason: less-than-expected revenues from both income and sales taxes. The projected gap will probably bring the legislature back into session in September. [NYS DoB] [NYT] [TU]

A state appeals court has ruled that Richard Ravitch can serve as lieutenant governor until the legality of his appointment is argued in court August 18. One catch: he's not allowed to preside over the state Senate or cast tie-breaking votes in the chamber. Ravitch says he been working on budget issues in the administration. [Daily Politics] [Biz Review] [Fox23]

A handful of state governors will be in Saratoga this weekend for eating, drinking, horse racing and partying a conference hosted by David Paterson. [Daily Politics]

Albany police say a man -- dressed as a woman -- stabbed a stylist at a salon on North Lake in yesterday. Police say the man then ran off with the woman's purse before being arrested. [CapNews9] [CBS6]

(there's more)

Paterson threatens state Senate, landfill expansion needs another permit, Troy dog park controversy, another pizza person mugged, gourmet market coming to Latham

The state Senate was in session for all of five minutes yesterday -- and the Republicans weren't even there. [Daily Politics]

David Paterson has called another "extraordinary" session for today. If senators don't show, he says he'll move to withhold their pay. He's also threatening to send the State Police after missing senators. A Brooklyn senator responded to Paterson's threats by calling him a "coward" who "will not be returning as governor." Leaders of both caucuses say their memberships will be at the Capitol today. [TU] [Daily Politics] [NYT] [Buffalo News]

A business run by Pedro Espada, one of the senators who set this whole circus in motion, owes almost $350k in back taxes. In 2007, Espada made almost $460k at the org, which gets funding from the state. [TU]

Even if the DEC approves the Albany landfill expansion, the project will still have to get the OK from the Army Corps of Engineers (though it won't stop the landfill from being piled higher). [TU]

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Bus error in your favor

CDTA busWe heard from a few people this morning that their CDTA ride was free because something was wrong with the fare boxes on the buses.

It sounds like this was just a case of the transit rider gods smiling briefly upon Albany. We checked the situation with CDTA's Margo Janack -- she emailed back this afternoon:

The issue occurred this morning (just on Albany buses) while the farebox computer system was being downloaded with updated software. It was fixed within the computer system just a few minutes after the glitch occurred, but the Albany buses were all ready out servicing customers and could not be individually probed until they came back in later this morning. The situation is completely remedied at this time.

(Thanks, Anonymous and others)

Same-sex marriage vote today in Assembly, two confirmed cases of H1N1 in Capital Region, Saratoga Springs facing big budget gap, Rachael Ray back at her alma mater

The state Assembly is expected to pass a bill today that would make same-sex marriage legal in New York (no vote is scheduled in the Senate). One of the leading advocates of the bill in the Assembly is Daniel O'Donnell, the first openly gay person to serve in the Assembly -- he's also Rosie's brother. [NYDN] [TU] [NYT]

Former state health commissioner -- and US Surgeon General -- Antonia Novella was arraigned this morning in Albany County court on charges she defrauded the state by taking advantage of her state staffers. [TU]

There are now two confirmed cases of the emerging H1N1 influenza in the greater Capital Region. Officials are saying very little about the case in Saratoga County -- they do say that it's a 12-year-old. The other case is in a Washington County student -- Cambridge Central School officials say they've been disinfecting high traffic areas of the school every night. There have now been 196 confirmed cases of the new strain of H1N1 in New York State -- 38 of them outside NYC. [Post-Star] [Fox23] [NYS DoH]

The Schenectady County DA says investigators have matched DNA from a fork used by Steven Raucci to DNA found on a cigarette used as part of an explosive device. The former Schenectady school district employee was arraigned yesterday -- he's under indictment for 26 felony counts that include terrorism and arson. Raucci's attorney said yesterday that prosecutors have put together "a case full of exaggerations." [TU] [Daily Gazette]

(there's more)

Officials urge calm on emerging flu, CDTA consolidating routes, Albany getting grant for anti-violence program, old Saratoga Winners destroyed, no Shakespeare in the Park this year

New York State has now had 54 confirmed cases of the emerging H1N1 flu -- including three cases outside NYC. Samples from five suspected cases in the greater Capital Region (two each in Schenectady and Washington counties, one in Albany County) have been sent for testing -- officials say they're not sure when results will be back on those samples. David Paterson reiterated his call for people to stay calm and said the state is prepping for a worst-case scenario. [TU] [Saratogian] [Daily Gazette]

Albany city treasurer Betty Barnette now says she will release copies of dismissed parking tickets to the Common Council -- if the council agrees to not share the info with anyone else. Barnette had initially balked at the council's request, which is part of the ghost ticket investigation, citing HIPAA -- even though the medical privacy law doesn't apply to her office. [TU]

CDTA ridership was up 11 percent to record levels during the fiscal year that ended in March. The transit org says it's still short on money, though, and will be changing, consolidating and eliminating routes to save money. [TU] [Daily Gazette]

Police used a state police helicopter, a K-9 unit and a lockdown of schools yesterday during a manhunt in Schenectady. Police were looking for a man they suspect has information about the fatal shooting outside a club this past weekend. They didn't get him. [TU] [Daily Gazette]

(there's more)

Officials expect statewide spread of swine flu, Murphy to be sworn in, Vick offer "a big mistake," paid parking proposal for Saratoga, ice cream truck pulls crazy U-ee

State health commissioner Richard Daines says he expects swine flu to eventually spread to every part of the state -- and DoH is already testing suspected cases in a handful of upstate counties. There have been 45 confirmed cases in New York State so far -- all of them in NYC. Said David Paterson yesterday: "This not time for alarm, but it's time to be alert." [WXXI] [TU]

State budget director Laura Anglin says this year's budget is on track to stay even -- if the planned state worker job cuts go through. The next few years aren't looking good, though. [NYS DoB] [TU] [NYT]

About 8,700 state worker job cuts, the Division of the Budget says it's still reviewing plans submitted by various agencies. [TU]

Scott Murphy is scheduled to be sworn in today at the US Capitol. [Daily Gazette]

The Albany Firebirds say the team's contract offer to Michael Vick was a marketing ploy -- and, in the words of the team's owner, "a big mistake."

(there's more)

Alleged "Craigslist killer" went to UAlbany, Schenectady HS fight reportedly over suicide taunting, police say bus driver may have been at wheel drunk, smokin' at Skidmore

Philip Markoff, the Boston U medical student accused of being "the Craigslist killer" by police, is reportedly a 2007 UAlbany graduate. The man's fiance, who also reportedly attended UAlbany, told ABC News that police have the wrong guy. Markoff is the fourth former UAlbany student to be charged with murder during the last five years. [Boston Globe] [AP] [ABC News] [Albany Student Press]

Three teen girls were charged after a fight at Schenectady High School yesterday injured two teachers. One of the girl's mothers said her daughter did throw the first punch -- because she was being taunted about the recent suicide of her cousin. Students said yesterday that bullying is an ongoing problem at the school. [TU] [Daily Gazette] [Fox23]

Rudy Giuliani was in town last night for the Albany County Republicans' annual Lincoln Reagan dinner. Guiliani said state leaders should be "ashamed" of the New York's current "anti-competitive position" and he criticized the size of the recently passed state budget. Guiliani said he hasn't made his mind up about whether he'll run for governor next year and isn't sure when he will. [NYDN] [CapNews9] [AP/Newsday] [PolitickerNY]

There are still about 1500 disputed absentee ballots still to be counted (or not counted) in the NY20 special election. Scott Murphy's unofficial lead over Jim Tedisco is at 273 votes -- and Democrats are starting to make noises about the race being over. [TU] [CapNews9]

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Art on the move

pointilized bus

A few points about all this.

The Central Ave BID and CDTA are looking for artists to create public works for the new Bus Rapid Transit system that's being constructed along Route 5. It sounds like they're open to pretty much anything:

There are many concepts that could meet the criteria and consideration for public art. Public Art could be simply a metal insignia or representational tiles or words as concepts embedded or attched to nearby sidewalks, buildings, the bus shelter or who knows. Art for this project could even be considerd a multi-media interactive projector that displays art on nearby buildings, or it could be music or sounds. It could be tactile pads, buttons, braile or something that you touch or listen to. You are the artists, and therefor in the medium you are familiar with, tell us your ideas.

Other cities have done some really interesting stuff with transit art. The MTA has an ongoing "Arts for Transit" program. And Flickr is full of examples from around the world.

The first deadline for submissions is April 17. There are a bunch of other details posted on the project's site.

Special election not over yet, state budget hits snags, doubts about Tuffey's ghost ticket testimony, CDTA fare hike takes effect, milk spilled in Troy

The special election in the 20th Congressional District isn't over. Initial tallies indicate that Scott Murphy leads Jim Tedisco by as few as 59 votes and as many as 65 votes. Here's a county-by-county breakdown of the totals. There are about 6000 absentee ballots that need to be counted -- they've been impounded and won't be counted until Monday at the earliest. As you might expect, both campaigns think they'll come out ahead in the final count. There are some indications the parties are already gearing up for a Coleman-Franken-like recount. [TU] [Daily Politics] [WNYT] [TU] [Daily Gazette] [Post-Star] [Saratogian] [Daily Politics]

Voters told reporters the top issue in the race was, surprise: the economy (great quote about Tedisco: "He's like a little bulldog."). There was a little bit of drama for voters on the Skidmore campus. And apparently some people in Schenectady showed up at the polls looking to vote -- except that Schenectady's not in the 20th (for what it's worth, Tedisco wasn't able to vote either). Many voters said they're just happy the TV ads, polling and robocalls are over. [Post-Star] [TU] [TU] [Saratogian]

The state budget isn't wrapped up yet (the official deadline was midnight last night) -- in part because Republican Senators, upset about the budget, stalled for a while yesterday and a Democratic Senator had to be taken to the hospital. [TU] [Daily Politics]

Three state Senators, including Neil Breslin, have asked David Paterson to meet with the state worker unions about the layoffs Paterson says are on the way. [Biz Review]

Still stung by the cut to Saratoga County's VLT aid, political leaders there seem to be missing Joe Bruno. [TU]

(there's more)

Stratton talks with Cuomo about getting rid of police force, father charged after whupping, Sundwall off the ballot, CDTA packs 'em in

Brian Stratton met with Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday about the idea of dissolving the Schenectady's troubled police force. Stratton says the AG "wants to help in every way possible." He says one of the options they discussed was the creation of a countywide police force. (Cuomo has lately been pushing for municipalities to consolidate services.) [TU] [Daily Gazette] [Fox23]

The Albany police detective accused of driving drunk through Albany and Bethlehem in January has been indicted on charges of drunken driving and reckless driving. [TU]

Albany schools superintendent Eva Joseph announced yesterday that she's retiring -- she had more than a year left on her contract. [TU]

Albany's city treasurer, Betty Barnette, says the common council's investigation of the ghost ticket scandal is a "witch hunt." Barnette is scheduled to testify before the council next week. [TU]

A Schenectady father has been charged with felony assault after he, in his own words, "whupped" his serially misbehaving 13-year-old son. The father says he "tried the Dr. Phil method," but when that didn't work he "flashed back to old school." [Daily Gazette]

The Three Men in the Room have a reportedly reached an agreement on reform of the Rockefeller Drug Laws. The new laws would give judges the authority to send first time offenders to treatment instead of jail. [NYT]

(there's more)

CDTA hearts the Saints

bus.jpg

Next stop, sweet sixteen?

Even the folks at CDTA have Siena on the brain this weekend. We snapped this shot of the number 4 bus, but after driving around, it looks like all the CDTA buses are giving a shout out to the Saints.

Is that what helped them pull out their overtime victory on Friday night? Probably not. But hey--couldn't hurt.

Tip off time for today's game is 5:20.

Go Saints!

Towns sue EPA over dredging, stimulus money headed for local schools, comptroller takes up ghost ticket investigation, big hospital merger, home prices down

A handful of municipalities in Saratoga County -- including the county itself -- have sued to stop the EPA's Hudson River dredging project. The governments argue the feds have not adequately guaranteed people in the county will have a safe supply of drinking water during the project, which is scheduled to start in May. State senator Roy McDonald told a meeting last night that the EPA is "taking advantage of us" and said people should tell the feds to "go to hell." [TU] [Daily Gazette] [Post-Star]

Chuck Schumer says about $50 million in aid for schools is headed to the Capital Region from the federal stimulus bill. The Albany ($6.3 million) and Schenectady ($4.8 million) school districts are getting the biggest chunks of that money. Schumer also says $3 billion is on its way to help New York State cover planned cuts in aid from the state to local schools. [TU] [Daily Gazette] [Daily Gazette]

David Paterson has replaced many of his top advisors. On his new communications director's resume: experience with "strategic and crisis communications work." [NYT] [TU]

The state comptroller has informed the City of Albany that his office will be conducting an audit of the city's "ghost ticket" system. [TU]

(there's more)

Local governments line up stimulus projects, sniping in the Governor's office, DA says 40-year-old case will be hard to prosecute, group trying to raise money for cat's heart surgery

Local governments have quite the wish list lined up for the federal stimulus money that could be on they way. The cities of Albany, Schenectady and Troy combined have more than $600 million of proposed projects. On the list: a new city hall for Troy, money for the Albany convention center, and a new rail line connecting Schenectady and Albany. [TU] [Daily Gazette]

As Kirsten Gillibrand becomes more of a "Democratic team player" in the Senate, constituents around Saratoga say they feel betrayed. [Newsday] [NYT]

The state worker unions have been meeting with the Department of Civil Service to discuss procedures for layoffs. There has been no official word that mass layoffs are in the works. [TU]

The chatter around the Capitol: David Paterson's staff is incompetent, fighting with itself over stuff like office space.

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Special election candidates could spend $4 million total, state worker says he gets $95k for nothing, new baggage scanners at airport, ice cream recall

One expert predicts each candidate in the special election to fill Kirsten Gillibrand's former House seat could end up spending $2 million on the race. The chairman of the Republican National Committee was in Albany yesterday to meet with Jim Tedisco about the race. Scott Murphy, the Democrats' candidate, was in DC earlier this week to meet with Nancy Pelosi and Kirsten Gillibrand. [Daily Gazette] [Troy Record]

The Siena Research Institute reports that consumer confidence in New York State was up a bit last month. The state's consumer confidence is a little lower than the national mark. [Daily Gazette] [Troy Record]

CDTA could get about $14 million over two years from the stimulus bill that's passed the House of Representatives. But the transit org says it's experiencing a "revenue crisis" and the stimulus money would only be a short-term help. [TU] [Daily Gazette]

A state worker with the State Insurance Fund says he's been relegated to a do-nothing $93,803-a-year job because he sued the Pataki Administration 10 years ago. The man says he sued because he was being discriminated against for being a Native American. [TU]

(there's more)

Everybody into the pool for Gillibrand's seat, first homicide of the year in Schenectady, apartments planned for downtown Albany, chicken wing prices up

Kirsten Gillibrand's now-former seat in the House is attracting the interest of, well, everyone. All sorts of candidates are either already in the race or are having their names floated. Among them: Betty Little, Jim Tedisco, John Faso, Sandy Treadwell, Tracey Brooks, former TV anchor Tracy Egan and former NY Rangers goalie Mike Richter. [TU] [Saratogian] [CapNews9] [TU]

A Schenectady man died this weekend after being shot in the head Saturday night at a party. A woman was also shot -- her injuries aren't considered life-threatening. Schenectady police say they don't have many leads -- and they say witnesses are not cooperating. This was the city's first homicide of the year. [TU] [Daily Gazette]

CDTA's planned route cuts and consolidations began Sunday. The transit org is paring back service as part of its plan to cover a multi-million dollar budget gap. [TU]

Saratoga Springs mayor Scott Johnson delivered his state of the city address yesterday. He called for "fiscal conservatism" and pushed for paid public parking. (By the way: how many people were there? The TU reports 75, the Gazette 100 and the Saratogian 200.) [TU] [Saratogian] [Daily Gazette]

(there's more)

Standoff ends in suicide, vote today on bus fare increase, Saratoga recreation center drama continues, a low-key bank robbery

US marshals say a man accused of multiple rapes in Pennsylvania killed himself in Cohoes yesterday after a standoff with police. The man, who had once run for Congress, jumped bail last month after he was accused of posing as a cop in order to take advantage of prostitutes. His had recently been featured on America's Most Wanted. Police say they aren't sure what brought the man to the Capital Region. [TU] [Daily Gazette] [Troy Record] [Troy Record]

The CDTA board is scheduled to vote on the proposed 50 cent per ride fare increase today. A coaltion of riders, advocates and politicians is protesting the increase, arguing that that increase would disproportionately hurt low-income people. The transportation org recently scaled back the proposed fare hike for commuter lines that run along the Northway. [CapNews9] [TU] [Daily Gazette]

More than 300 cars have been towed during Albany's snow emergency. Apparently even/odd can be tricky. [CBS6] [WNYT]

(there's more)

Paterson budget proposal out today, thousands still without power, CDTA says rapid bus line moving forward, UAlbany plans to chill out

David Paterson is releasing his proposed 2009 state budget today -- and it's expected to include the elimination of 3,000 state worker jobs, some of through layoffs. The governor's people say many of the layoffs could be averted if the state worker unions agree to defer their raises next year and delay a week's-worth of pay. [TU]

Caroline Kennedy says she wants to succeed Hillary Clinton and is actively pursuing the seat. [NYT]

As of this morning, about 40,000 homes in the Capital Region are still without power. National Grid says it brought 900 line and tree crews into the region and they've been working 18 hour shifts to get things repaired. [Daily Gazette] [TU] [Daily Gazette]

Chuck Schumer and David Paterson are calling on the federal government to provide disaster aid to the area. [Troy Record]

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A note to CDTA

CDTA route board

Helpful? Maybe not so much.

Dear CDTA,

We know how hard you're working to get us to ride the bus in the Capital Region. We appreciate that it's green and all -- and we love the song -- but CDTA, you gotta help us out here.

(there's more)

Bus fares and inflation

Busatoga.jpg

Is $1.50 to ride one of these a deal?

CDTA is currently in the process of examining a proposal to increase bus fares from $1 to $1.50. It would be the first increase since 1995. And CDTA's executive director Ray Melleady has said that when you take inflation into account, "one could argue that a $1.50 fare in 2009 is less expensive than $1 in 1995."

We could argue it -- or we could look it up. So, we did.

(there's more)

Local House members split on bailout, kid curfew in Albany?, state workers could get four day work week, Gov involved in local septic tank dispute

The Capital Region's two members of the House voted differently yesterday on the Wall Street bailout bill. Kirsten Gillibrand voted against, saying in a release that the bill was "fundamentally flawed." (Sandy Treadwell, her Republican opponent in the November election says he also opposed the bill.) Mike McNulty voted for the bill. (His probable replacement, Democrat Paul Tonko, said he hasn't read the bill.) Incidentally, yesterday was supposed to be McNulty's last day in DC as a Congressman -- though now it looks like he'll be going back for another vote. [TU] [Saratogian] [Daily Gazette] [Troy Record]

New York State's comptroller says it now looks like the Wall Street meltdown will cost the state $3.5 billion in lost tax revenue over the next year-and-a-half. He's projecting the state will lose $1.75 billion just from decreases in year-end bonues given out by financial firms. [Biz Review]

Schenectady mayor Brian Stratton has proposed a budget for next year that would raise taxes 3 percent and increase water and garbage fees. It would be the first tax increase in three years for Schenectady. It was also the first time in three years no one clapped at the budget unveiling. [TU] [Daily Gazette]

Albany County comptroller Mike Conners says his most recent audit of the DA David Soares' office will include allegations "more serious" than money missing from a safe -- though Conners won't say what until October 6. Also present at this announcement: Soares' opponent in the November election, Roger Cusick. [TU]

Albany Common Councilman Glen Casey is proposing a curfew for kids under 17 as a way to reduce crime. Troy and Schenectady already have curfews. [TU]

(there's more)

Fare increase for CDTA down the road?

cdta_bus_at_armory.jpg

Unofficial AOA transit correspondent, and official transit-riding superhero, This Quality Life sent along a report on today's CDTA board meeting. The short story: it really does look like fares will be going up 50 cents per ride next spring.

The slightly longer story from TQL:

Just watched today's CDTA board meeting -- the board acted to endorse the deficit reduction plan, they didn't officially vote on the budget (don't have to do that until December, I think) but this way they can move forward with informing the public about the plan to increase fares to $1.50/ ride effective 4/1/09, and again to $2/ ride in 2010, if the financial picture deems it necessary. They do not want to have to increase fares to $2/ ride in 2010, but want to leave the option open.

Apparently, 62% of transit organizations are looking at raising fares, but I wonder how many are raising them 50%??

I think such a steep increase is going to be a real hardship for most of the current bus riders, and I hope there will be plans to offset costs for those whose only reliable form of transportation is CDTA.

Update: Thursday's TU story has a few more details.

(Thanks, TQL!)

Wall Street meltdown could hit NYS even harder, local unemployment rate up, bomb threat at supermarket, graduation crasher writes more sincere apology letter

A not-officially-released projection concludes that the Wall Street meltdown could now cost New York State as much as $3 billion in revenue over the next two years. David Paterson had predicted earlier this week that the hit could be as much as $1 billion over the next year. [AP]

With Wall Street institutions crumbling, local Capital Region banks say they're seeing an influx of deposits as people look to keep their money closer to home. [Daily Gazette]

The total number of jobs in the Capital Region is at its highest-ever point, but the unemployment rate still hit 5 percent last month. The highest the rate has been here in 16 years (it was 3.7 percent a year ago). Analysts say the picture isn't really all that bad and the area is doing better than a lot of other places. [TU] [Daily Gazette]

Among the recently unemployed: eight Daily Gazette staffers. It's the second job cut this year for the paper. [Daily Gazette]

CDTA is facing a budget gap and a 50 cent fare increase might be one of the ways to cover it. [TU]

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It's easy and it's green

Sarah Pedinotti

Sarah Pedinotti

We got word today from ThisQualityLife, the Capital Region's very own transit riding super hero, about a new jingle for CDTA written by Sarah Pedinotti. It's at the beginning of this video. Here's how it goes:

I ride the bus
As all my friends do
'Cause it's easy and it's green
And it saves us money too
I ride CDTA
Get on board!

As TQL emailed us: "My daughter and I were digging the jingle which kept our heads bobbing even after the music stopped." We agree, it's catchy!

By the way, the Sarah Pedinotti Band is now going by the name Railbird. They'll next be performing at the Energy Festival in Schuylerville on September 13.

(Thanks, TQL!)

photo: Railbird MySpace page

Everybody into the iPool?

iPool2 logoIt looks CDTA and a handful of other orgs are getting into the business (so to speak) of helping people to set up carpools with a site called iPool2. Here's how a brochure (.doc) we downloaded from the site describes the service:

iPool2.org is an on-line source that allows you to advertise for free for a carpool, find others who are interested in carpooling, and find out information about bus schedules and fares and park and ride lot locations.

One other feature: a guaranteed ride home if plans change.

There's already a site like this, the Capital District Commuter Register. It also offers the guaranteed ride home. It looks like the org behind that site, the Capital District Transportation Committee, is also involved in iPool2.

Maybe everyone's decided to, um, ipool their resources. Hey, the first 300 people to sign up get a free iMug.

The Scoop

Ever wish you had a smart, savvy friend with the inside line on what's happening around the Capital Region? You know, the kind of stuff that makes your life just a little bit better? Yeah, we do, too. That's why we created All Over Albany. Find out more.

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Recent Comments

I've found that anecdotes from neighbors, friends, or internet "strangers" can only take you so far. If you haven't already, I strongly recommend you get out there and visit these schools during the school year, during the school day to get a feel for things. In the last few months, my wife and I have made a series of visits to our local elementary, middle + high-school. During those visits, we had the chance to talk to multiple teachers and see the kids "in action". It was very VERY telling in a lot of ways - both good and bad.

Drawing: American Music Festival + Peck's Arcade

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