Capital Region Transit Authority 110 Watervliet Avenue Albany, New York 12206 To Whom It May Concern: Re: CDTA

Bethlehem Transit Reorganization Plan I am submitting these comments on the CDTA Transit Reorganization Plan. This comments are detailed and lengthy, however I hope to provide you with several ideas on how you can improve your bus service locally. For the past seven years, I have ridden the bus nearly everyday from my apartment in Delmar to my job at the Alfred E Smith, frequently visiting other locations in the city to shop, recreate, and attend meetings. Overwhelmingly I find riding the bus to a pleasurable alternative to driving, one free of concerns of automobile maintenance, weather, and the hassles of traffic. I avoid driving my pickup truck over 3,500 miles a year by riding the bus – a trip longer then across the country – saving over 205 gallons of gasoline per year. Point 1: CDTA buses must be roadworthy prior to providing service Almost all of the CDTA bus drivers are very professional and service reliability and quality of the buses has improved in recent years. However in the past, buses where not reliable and frequently broke down. While bus swaps where done quickly and professionally, breakdowns are not acceptable. I have experienced the Route 19 Voorheesville Express bus at least half a dozen times stalling out on the highway, two times of which we had to wait for the garage to come and pick us up along Route 9W or I-787. I have heard other times when this has happened, and once saw a Route 19 Voorheesville bus broken down at a traffic light on NY 32/NY9W Interchange, stuck in traffic, causing a major traffic jam. Moreover, one time I when was riding the Route 19 Voorheesville Bus, I could smell the brakes burning on the Slingerlands Bypass. NABI buses are the most unreliable buses and if CDTA can not get them to preform properly at Highway Speeds, they should be dedicated solely to local street uses. Moreover, buses should be required to provide a reasonable amount of heat in the winter (interiors that exceed 60 degrees) and in the summer, provide air conditioning at least down to 75 degrees, regardless of the weather. Customer comfort is important, especially if you wish to get people who normally take their cars to ride the bus. Patrons should not be expected to freeze in the winter and roast in the summer. CDTA should ensure no buses leave the depot unless in the summer they are colder then 75 degrees, and in the winter warmer then 60 degrees. Buses that have any signs of mechanical problems should immediately be taken out of service. Running a bus with failing brakes or low oil pressure is COMPELETELY UNACCEPTABLE. Drivers should be required to notify the dispatcher and CDTA should provide the driver as soon as possible a Andy Arthur – CDTA Route Reorganization Comments Page 1 of 6

reliable bus. CDTA should ensure that their fleet is large enough to cover all routes and that they have several extra buses on standby should a several buses break down or be in the garage being maintained. Bus service must be reliable. While in recent years, maintenance has improved at CDTA, one failure of a bus can lead to patrons stopping riding the bus. Multiple failures, even if they do not lead to patron discomfort or delay, can reinforce the notion that public transit is unreliable. My experience with the bus breaking down on I-787 did not make me feel warm and fuzzy about riding the bus. CDTA should maintain buses to a high standard, and ensure that on every single route measured individually, that there is fewer then one breakdown per 100,000 miles driven. Point 2: Existing schedule for Route 18 could be improved with minor adjustments The morning runs via Cherry Avenue on the half hour, should not start directly at the half hour. It does not take six minutes to go from Grove Street to Cherry Avenue, even if the driver stops 2-3 times to pick up patrons in this suburban area. Experienced bus drivers do not start their route until 2-4 minutes after the start of the half hour, to be closer to on time. In the City, the bus is closer to schedule, but even so, if the driver leaves right on the half hour, by reaching the State Capitol, the bus is running about 510 minutes early on a typical good weather day. Either the time table should be revised with earlier times, or the Grove Street layover should be lengthened. Revising the time table earlier is more desirable, as it would get state workers to work, closer to the half hour. The 7:02 PM, 8:02 PM, and 9:02 PM, Route 18 buses run perpetually run late both leaving Albany and leaving Delmar. The schedule calls for the buses to leave at 2 minutes after the hour, and reach Delaware and Kenwood in 25 minutes, at 27 after the hour. There is no layover at Delaware and Kenwood, and drivers are expected to return to Greyhound terminal in 27 minutes, for a 4 minute layover. I have never seen a Route 18 bus reach Delaware and Kenwood by 27 after the hour. Buses rarely start out by 2 after the hour, usually running 5-10 minutes late. Inclement weather, assisting disabled patrons and those with children board the bus, can lead to delays. While swapping out buses for the 8 PM run of Route 18 helps, by 9 PM, the bus is running late once again. Point 3: Consider a common layover location for Route 13, Route 18 and Route 19 (an Express) buses on Grove Street Currently the Route 13 New Scotland bus route ends at Slingerland Price Chopper and the Route 18 bus in the day time ends at Grove Street in Slingerlands. In the morning, several of the Route 13 buses shift over to Route 18 service and vise versa, but there is no formal connection between the services. It may make sense to consider creating a common-layover location for both the Route 13 and Route 18 services, connecting these two spokes in the hub. This would allow many Slingerlands and Delmar residents who work or recreate off New Scotland Avenue a direct route to their destination. Slingerlands and Delmar residents would also have access to the Slingerlands Price Chopper. The Price Chopper location for layovers does not make any sense except for grocery shoppers. Price Chopper in Slingerlands is located in an “Automobile Ghetto”, it inaccessible except by private automobile or by bus if you live within the city. Businesses in the Price Chopper plaza complain about Andy Arthur – CDTA Route Reorganization Comments Page 2 of 6

buses idling out in front of their store, blocking the view of their businesses during the day time. People who wish to use this area as a park and ride area, find their cars towed. Moreover, a private business is not the appropriate place for a bus layover, and instead putting it in the more developed Grove Street layover area would allow access to this bus by many more residents living both in Delmar and Slingerlands. Grove Street should not just be a bus layover, but a major transit hub for the Southern Suburbs. It should be aggressively promoted by television and radio ads. CDTA should install nice bus shelters there, and encourage businesses to locate near the bus shelter. A coffee shop that sells newspapers and trinkets would be a nice addition to Slingerlands. It would provide security by having another set of eyes on the streets. The deli next to the fire station is a short walk from there. A small parking area could be built near the former D&H Railroad tracks, behind the Slingerlands Firehouse, that could be shared both by Park and Ride Patrons and those wishing to use the bike trail to bike to work or for recreation. Route 13 and Route 18 buses should swap routes throughout the day (ie. Outbound via Route 13, Inbound via Route 18 and vise versa). This would add interest to the drivers and help them stay awake and allow patrons who board on New Scotland Avenue to continue around to locations on Delaware Avenue with ease. It also could provide later night service for patrons along Delaware Ave/Route 18. Point 4: CDTA should put on electronic bus signs, frequency of service It might seem like a no-brainier, but imagine if to a potential rider, CDTA flashed on it’s electronic destination signs the frequency of bus service. It could flash on the sign: “Route 18: Delmar via Cherry Avenue” and then the message: “Lets Ride! I Run Every 15 Minutes!”. To the regular rider, such information is meaningless, but the causal person on the street, it could encourage them to try the bus by reinforcing the message of frequent, convenient service. Point 5: CDTA needs to aggressively promote their buses, create a “Bus Route of the Month” Many people are unaware of the local bus service in the suburbs. People who own private automobiles might never even consider riding the bus, how much money riding the bus saves, or the convenience of riding the bus. Many may be unaware that bus passes right by their house. Broad-based ridership campaigns do not work and, CDTA needs to individually highlight and promote its service to potential riders near by it. Current riders and transit fans do not need to be sold on the benefits of CDTA, but many others in the community need to be informed about the local service that could benefit them personally. CDTA should consider each month aggressively promoting an individual bus route each month, and attempting to boost ridership along that route. Rather then focusing on promoting general use of the service, one community, along one route should be focused at once. Communication experts suggest it takes seven times with a message to reach the average person, who is too busy and uninterested to hear upon the first contact. Spending a month, trying to build ridership on a specific bus, could pay off with service utilization increases that would last for decades.

Andy Arthur – CDTA Route Reorganization Comments

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CDTA needs to reach out to all potential customers within a 1/4 mile of the “Bus Route of the Month”. Ways to promote the “Bus Route of the Month” would include direct mail and phone calls to all those within that 1/4 mile of the bus route. CDTA could hire a phone vendor, to make pitch calls about the benefits of the service, and directly try to convince people to ride. Phone vendors are relatively inexpensive, you might be able to win over a rider who would be paying fares for many years, for less then 40 cents per phone call. During the same month, CDTA should send all residents within a 1/4 mile of the “Bus Route of the Month”, two free day-passes, a schedule, and a letter explaining all the benefits of bus ridership. Alternatively, consider eliminating the fare on the “Bus Route of the Month” for a month. The “Bus Route of the Month” could be actively promoted by specially-colored buses (like bright lime green with orange lettering), with prominent lettering on the bus that tell the casual observer about the frequency the bus runs – “Ride the ROUTE of THE MONTH: Goes Past HERE Every 10 Minutes – FREE THIS MONTH !!!” People who might never otherwise ride the bus, might get on, because it’s free, and because it’s different looking bus that goes by there house every 10 minutes. While waving fares and painting a number of buses a special color as a promotion might cost the Authority money, any costs would be offset by increased ridership in the future months. CDTA’s bland advertisements that are not targeted do not work. Buying television and radio ads for general transit advertising is a waste of money. CDTA needs to connect specific customers to specific routes, and make personalized appeals to potential riders. CDTA should spend more time reaching out to residents of the southern suburbs, along with all other routes. Suburban routes offer potentially the most potential for growth as most suburban residents own cars but may not enjoy driving to work. Point 6: CDTA should consider later night service for Route 18, especially on weekends Many residents of the suburbs enjoy attending social functions after work, and at parties are friends houses in the cities. Those who want to travel home after 9 PM are forced either to drive or take an expensive taxi. Those of modest means might make the wrong decision and decide to drive. CDTA should consider a later night bus service, both to fill in this need, and to keep those who have been drinking off the road. Despite the significant fines on those convicted of driving under the influence, every single automobile accident or arrest of a drunk driver, is extremely costly to county taxpayer. Even a bus service with limited ridership that reduces incidents of drunk driving, and could both save lives and save the county money. Drunk driving prosecutions and fatal car collisions cost the county a lot of money. Moreover, the Delmar region is home to many employees of the legislature and other branches of state government that have to work late. With very limited on-street parking alternatives, having a bus to catch home later at night would be quite convenient. Other major trunk routes run until 10 or 11 PM, so why couldn’t CDTA run a little later on the Route 18. Alternatively, consider making the Route 13 service Slingerlands and Delmar areas after 9 PM.

Andy Arthur – CDTA Route Reorganization Comments

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Point 7: CDTA should consider a “Bus-Taxi” service at off-peak times for southern suburbs Off-Peak, running a bus out to Slingerlands is not an cost-effective use of resources. Regardless of number of passengers, CDTA buses still consume about a gallon of diesel for every 3.5 miles they travel. CDTA buses rarely have any significant number of patrons on them beyond the Hannaford in Elsmere. Yet, providing service to Slingerlands and Delmar remains important, as it provides mobility to elderly folk and commuters alike, could it be done in a more cost-effective way? Likewise, while the Voorheesville Service is important for commuters, could it be done in a more cost-effective fashion by using a small commuter bus like STAR after it reaches Elm Avenue Park and Ride? Some European Communities have chosen to create “Bus-Taxi” services, operated by Transit Authorities, where if a person wants to get a ride, they call up the Authority, and the Authority routes the bus so that it picks up and drops off the person at their destination, all while picking up and dropping off other patroons. Some of the “Bus-Taxi” services are fixed route – but the route only runs the necessary portion of the when at least one patron has booked it. This could better adjust the schedule towards changing needs. Point 8: CDTA should consider expanding Route 19 service, changing route through Delmar Many patrons of the Voorheesville Bus would like to have access to a 6 PM service, in case they missed the 5 PM bus, or need to stay later into the city. While there is hourly local service out to the Four Corners until 9 PM via the Route 18, that is far from Voorheesville or for that matter Slingerlands and the upper portion of Delmar. Consider replacing the 7:00 AM run from Voorheesville with one that leaves Voorheesville at 7:15 AM, to get patrons downtown a little before 8 AM. The 7:30 AM route should be scrapped in favor of a 8:15 AM run, for the many state office workers who need to get to work a little before 9 AM. The 7:30 AM run from Voorheesville is non-sensible, as it gets patrons downtown around 8:10 AM, a totally random time not compatible with most business schedules. Also, should the Route 19 somehow dip a little further down into Delmar? Could it take Elm Avenue to Delaware Avenue, cross over at Borthwhick Ave, then back up Elsmere Avenue to Delmar? That would allow more patrons to board the bus, and access the express service downtown. Route 19 should be considered “Bus Rapid Transit” for labeling purposes, however no further changes are required. Point 9: CDTA should provide bus GPS information on mobile phones, website, Google Maps, other public feeds In inclement weather especially, it helps patrons a lot to know where the bus is located and how long they have to get out to the bus stop. If one could look at a Google Map, and see that the Route 18 via Cherry bus is four blocks away, or however close it is, they could better plan their days. This is especially important when the weather is cold out. Likewise, CDTA should consider putting outdoor Andy Arthur – CDTA Route Reorganization Comments Page 5 of 6

signs at the bus stops that tell patrons “Next Bus to Slingerlands (Route 18 via Cherry) will be here in 4 minutes”. This would be really good at Lark Street on the evening, for waiting for a bus in the cold, and be able to know that the bus will be here soon, or otherwise go back inside. Point 10: CDTA should consider connections between Delmar and Western/Central Avenues Many elderly patrons might enjoy a bus service to malls and other major shopping areas. More important is with plans to redevelop the State Office Campus into a High-Tech Office Campus, that service be added to make connections between Slingerlands and Delmar, and major destinations to the western portion of the Albany area, including westerly connections to Routes 1, 10, 12, and 55. While a “Westerly Connection” from Delmar to Guilderland may be a low priority today, in the future with High-Tech employers coming to the region, and certain higher gas prices, it’s something CDTA should take into serious consideration in coming years. Point 11: CDTA should consider restoring electric trolley service Electrically powered trolleys might provide a nice alternative to bus service, that would be clean and modern. While modern hybrid buses are quite efficient and nice, with growing fuel prices, and the need to further reduce carbon emissions, bringing back trolley service would be a nice addition. Many cities like Seattle WA and Phoenix AZ have found restoring electric street car service to be an instant economic boom to streets where the trolleys run. Thank you for consideration of my comments. If you need further clarifications on my ideas for improving the CDTA Transit service, feel free to contact me at andy@andyarthur.org or by phone at 518-281-9873. Sincerely,

Andy Arthur 15A Elm Ave Delmar, NY 12054

Andy Arthur – CDTA Route Reorganization Comments

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