Items tagged with 'CDTA'
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.
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.
Real 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."
Earlier on AOA: Gawking at Kiernan Plaza (the former train station, in Albany)
ShopRite 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
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.
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...
We 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Modestly useful in the Capital District? Sure. Fun to play with? Definitely.
[we're sure this is via someone... but we've forgotten... sorry]
I 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.
CDTA'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.
Rides 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.
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.
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.
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 $]
CDTA 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.
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]
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]
We'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)
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]
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]
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]
We 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]
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]
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]
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]
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.
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]
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]
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.
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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.
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.
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]
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.
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]
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!
photo: Railbird MySpace page
It 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.