CDTA bus rapid tran­sit sta­tion now ready to roll

$1.6 mil­lion project serv­ing 10 routes on Wash­ing­ton Av­enue

Albany Times Union - - BUSINESS - By Eric An­der­son

City and transportation of­fi­cials cut the rib­bon Thurs­day morn­ing on the Cap­i­tal Dis­trict Transportation Author­ity’s new­est bus rapid tran­sit sta­tion, a $1.6 mil­lion project serv­ing 10 routes on Al­bany’s Wash­ing­ton Av­enue.

One of those routes is CDTA’S Bus­plus Red Line, as it’s called, the first of three bus rapid tran­sit lines that fea­ture lim­ited stops, faster ser­vice and queue-jump­ing tech­nol­ogy to give them pri­or­ity over other traf­fic.

Rider­ship along the Route 5 cor­ri­dor between Al­bany and Sch­enec­tady has in­creased 25 per­cent since the Red Line first de­buted in 2011.

Two other lines are in de­vel­op­ment, in­clud­ing the Pur­ple Line serv­ing Al­bany’s Wash­ing­ton Western Av­enue cor­ri­dor, which will also stop at the new

sta­tion at Wash­ing­ton Av­enue and Lark Street.

The Blue Line, mean­while, uses a sim­i­lar ap­proach along its planned route con­nect­ing down­town Al­bany with Troy and Co­hoes.

“CDTA’S en­hance­ments to the Wash­ing­ton Av­enue and Lark Street in­ter­sec­tion and sur­round­ing thor­ough­fares will help im­prove the safety and walk­a­bil­ity of this widely used cor­ri­dor,” said Al­bany Mayor Kathy Shee­han.

Traf­fic sig­nals and a cross­walk were in­stalled at the sta­tion to help pedes­tri­ans safely cross

busy Wash­ing­ton Av­enue.

“Safety is our top pri­or­ity, and this com­pleted project re­in­forces that com­mit­ment,” said Paul A. Karas, act­ing com­mis­sioner of the state Depart­ment of Transportation. “The new tran­sit im­prove­ments at the Lark Street and Wash­ing­ton Av­enue in­ter­sec­tion will boost safety and mo­bil­ity for all users — rid­ers, pedes­tri­ans, cy­clists and mo­torists — while also en­hanc­ing travel along the down­town Wash­ing­ton Av­enue cor­ri­dor.”

“This project fits per­fectly with (the city’s) cam­paign on pedes­trian safety,” said CDTA CEO Carm Basile.

CDTA rider­ship, af­ter sev­eral years of gains, fell 3.1 per­cent from the pre­vi­ous fis­cal year,

and in May was down 5 per­cent from the same month a year ear­lier. The drops were at­trib­uted in part to harsh win­ter weather, the in­tro­duc­tion of new fare tech­nol­ogy, and the im­pact of Uber and Lyft.

Bus­plus rider­ship was ap­par­ently more re­silient; it was down just 1.9 per­cent.

The new sta­tion is in front of the main branch of the Al­bany Pub­lic Li­brary at 161 Wash­ing­ton Av­enue.

Mean­while, con­struc­tion con­tin­ues on the in­fra­struc­ture and safety im­prove­ments that are part of the new Blue and Pur­ple bus rapid tran­sit lines.

CDTA re­cently in­tro­duced its first Bus­plus ar­tic­u­lated ve­hi­cle, which can carry twice as many pas­sen­gers as more tra­di­tional buses. The Pur­ple line, con­nect­ing such high-vol­ume lo­ca­tions as Cross­gates Mall, the Univer­sity at Al­bany, and the Har­ri­man of­fice cam­pus with down­town Al­bany, will be served solely by the larger ar­tic­u­lated buses, said Ross Far­rell, CDTA’S di­rec­tor of plan­ning.

As routes be­come more densely pop­u­lated, and ad­di­tional de­vel­op­ment oc­curs, bus rapid tran­sit lines may get ded­i­cated bus lanes along some por­tions of the routes, Far­rell said.

Could light rail fol­low? Pos­si­bly, but Far­rell said that likely would be decades in the fu­ture.

Pho­tos by John Carl D’an­ni­bale / Times Union

CTDA’S new Bus Plus sta­tion on Al­bany’s Wash­ing­ton Av­enue was of­fi­cially opened Thurs­day. It fol­lows a 25 per­cent in­crease in rider­ship along the Route 5 cor­ri­dor between Al­bany and Sch­enec­tady since 2011.

This is an­other view of the CTDA’S new Bus Plus sta­tion on Wash­ing­ton Av­enue. A cross­walk was in­stalled at the sta­tion for pedes­trian safety.

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