People who take public transportation tend to be opinionated regarding service. They'll have an opportunity to air grievances and praises alike tonight in downtown Albany at a meeting on bus transit policy.
Over the last few years, transportation activists say elimination of bus stops and bus routes has harmed people and businesses. The greatest concern is that riders don't hear of changes until the eleventh hour, disrupting their schedules and wreaking havoc on their lives.
Tonight in Albany, Citizens for Public Transportation holds its first fall meeting. Board member Dom Calsolaro notes rumored schedule changes to the heavily-used Second Avenue route would severely impact riders.
Another issue involves people with disabilities and the way they are treated. The activists are calling for a clear policy to be set regarding equal access to the bus, even during busy times, allowing them to board and find a seat without undue difficulty and avoid the practice of telling them they must wait for the next bus. "Sometimes the bus drivers make them wait to be last to get on instead of being the first. We had one about a month ago where the lady was told that she had to wait until everybody else got on down on State and Pearl and then when she went to get on the bus driver told her it was too full for her to get on 'cause she's a larger woman and she has an oversized wheelchair. She had to wait for the next bus. These are the most vulnerable people and the ones who have been having some issues."
Calsolaro says he'd like to see at least ONE voting rider advocate on EVERY Transit Board. There are NO voting rider advocates on ANY board in the State. "We're trying to get bus rider representation on the CDTA board and we're also working with other transportation groups around the state to get state law changed so that public transportation authorities have to require that at least one board member be a rider, actually be a rider of the public transportation system. Right now that's not a requirement - we would like that to happen, because the riders should be representative of what's going on with their transportation system."
State Assemblyman Pete Lopez of the 102nd district is one of the legislators planning to attend the meeting: "Much of my district has outlying rural areas. So in terms of access to goods and services, running several [bus] services is sometimes problematic for the authority. We have that issue in southern Albany County and actually a little bit of outreach into Greene County through those areas bordering the district. So our goal would be to see where we could provide some effective shuttle service and maybe feeder lines that can access the broader CDTA network and give people the flexibility and freedom they need to move if they don't have a vehicle available to them."
CDTA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Citizens for Public Transportation meet the second Wednesday of every month. "CDTA does cover four counties, Albany, Rensselaer, Schenectady and Saratoga. So we try to get around to each county at least once a year to hold these public meetings.
The meeting kicks off at 7 p.m. and is scheduled to run until 9 at the Albany Public Library, Washington Ave. Branch.
Star Bus users: please arrange to be dropped off at the front, BUT be picked up from the rear parking lot ramp due to new closing times at the library.