The Bus Stops Stopping Here

Transportation advocates complain about lack of public outreach over route consolidations, while CDTA says the changes will improve service

Blue bags have been placed on 250 bus-stop signs throughout the Capital Region, notifying riders of route consolidations by the Capital District Transportation Authority. As part of that consolidation, CDTA will eliminate some bus stops. On routes where buses once stopped at every block, for example, some routes will now have bus stops only every two or three blocks.

This has transportation advocates concerned with how the changes will affect riders, and upset over what they feel has been a lack of public notification and involvement by CDTA.

Leah Golby, co-president of the Albany Parent Teachers Association and member of the Capital Region Traffic Advocates, said that while the changes probably will not be prevented, more should be done to involve the public in route changes. “People are concerned,” she said, “about why they are making the changes without a public hearing.”

Donna Suhor, of the Capital District Coalition for Accessible Transportation, is particularly concerned that CDTA is not doing enough to inform the public about the reduction of stops.

“One of the calls that I had was about a man waiting at a bus stop that had been removed and he didn’t know because he was blind,” Suhor said. “They’re putting the information on the Web site, but not everybody has a computer or would think to check the CDTA Web site.”

According to Carm Basile of CDTA, the route consolidations are part of an attempt to cut 35,000 service hours in 2009. The elimination of bus stops, he said, is not meant to reduce service hours but rather to improve service.

“They’re separate issues, but they are related because the service that we’re eliminating is particularly unproductive,” Basile said. “Bus stops are really, we think, one of the few things available to us to improve travel time and reliability. We have been systematically reviewing route by route ways to coordinate, consolidate, and, in some cases, eliminate bus stops to be more effective.”

According to Basile, CDTA didn’t hold a public hearing because CDTA officials felt the changes wouldn’t have an impact on the majority of riders.

“The percentage of service being eliminated is very minor, at about 1 percent,” Basile said. “If we were affecting routes that had more ridership, that would require more outreach.”

A public hearing may not have even been effective in preventing the changes.

“They were required to have a public hearing when they were going to implement the fare hike and many people came out and spoke against it, but it didn’t change their mind,” Golby said. “They just pushed it through. Public hearings at least give the public an opportunity to give comments, but if they’re not going to listen, it’s problematic.”

Suhor agreed.

“They said that they don’t need a public hearing,” she said, “but I think that keeping in touch with the public would be a better thing to do, and I think that the CDTA board of directors is too insular. There is no public- comment period even at the board meetings.”

Golby is particularly concerned with the changes made to bus route 6 in Albany, which currently runs on North Pearl Street. As of May 24, the bus will no longer stop in front of the North Albany Academy.

“That’s a real problem,” she said, particularly for those who are unable to get transportation from the school district. “In order to catch a school bus you have to be eligible, and you have to be a mile and half from the school. That’s pretty far to walk if you’re 6 years old.”

According to Basile, the route was discontinued due to low ridership.

“Our Route 22 stops a very short city block from there,” he said. “In fact, our work shows that most people are walking to the Route 22 line because it runs more frequently. That’s one of the reasons why we made the change.”

Basile said that overall, a reduction of 35,000 service hours is only a 4.5 percent decrease, and that CDTA is focusing on improving service for routes that are heavily used.

“Our intent is to run as much service as we possibly can in areas where people want it, need it, and use it. Like any good business, you have to evaluate the product, and where people are using and where your service is strongest is where you need to be investing.”

CDTA is still 10,000 hours short of its goal, meaning that more route consolidations are likely to take place. Basile said that it is too soon to tell whether or not additional changes will happen next year, but they intend to continue systematic reviews of routes.

For more information on route changes, visit More information about the Capital District Coalition for Accessible Transportation can be found at

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