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Lawmakers upgrade county bus route, schedule

February 20, 2019 11:45 am

HUDSON — Columbia County released a new schedule and route map for its bus system Tuesday after it was brought to officials’ attention the schedule did not reflect the route the buses travel.

Town supervisors were notified Feb. 12 during the county Public Transportation Subcommittee meeting that the new schedule — along with a brand new route map — would be posted on the website after President’s Day. The route schedule and map will be printed as a brochure that will be available on buses and county facilities.

“The new schedule and map just accurately reflects what the buses actually do,” said Hudson 3rd Ward Supervisor Michael Chameides, who brought the bus schedule and route discrepancies to the rest of the committee. “People who frequently use the bus will already be used to the changes and the new information will help new riders know exactly what the buses do.”

Before Christmas, Chameides pointed out to other supervisors that the times and order of stops presented on the county’s website did not reflect the actual route the buses take — especially the local shopping shuttle that runs through Hudson and Greenport.

As housing developments were built and stores closed or moved over time, the bus routes changed to reflect changes in traffic, but the county never changed the schedule.

The county does not have a visual map to show the route its buses take, so the new map will be helpful to new riders, Chameides said.

“The map will help people figure out what the bus actually does,” he added. “It will be much more user-friendly.”

The county developed a new logo for the map and brochures to establish a brand for the bus system. The county is waiting for approval of the logo.

“Because we run the system with the help of multiple funding sources — state and federal — we want to make sure we are doing our due diligence and following any guidelines,” Chameides said. “We hope they will approve the logo by Feb. 19, but we will not hold up the process of putting out the new information if they do not. That is not what is essential.”

The county received an increase in state funding this year to help cover the bus system’s operating costs. The county received $134,000 last year to $208,000 this year.

“Public transit is important to people in the community,” Chameides said. “We also know it is important to workforce development. It is good to see the state step up and increase funding that helps our system and could help us to improve it.”

Any increase in the county’s funding is welcome, said Columbia County Board of Supervisors Chairman Matt Murell, who is a member of the transportation subcommittee.

The bus system has seen a decrease in ridership this past year, which equates to a $10,000 reduction in revenue from bus fare from $70,000 in 2017 to $60,000 in 2018, Murell said.

“It does not make or break the program,” Murell said. “It is an investment on the part of the public. Their fare is only $1 per trip — that is not a huge expense.”

The county is looking at purchasing a new bus for $90,000 as it moves to decommission one of its other buses, which needs between $5,000 and $7,000 in repairs.

The committee passed a motion to take one of its buses — a 2010 vehicle with 263,000 miles — off the road because it is not usable without significant repairs. Another bus is about to reach its 200,000-mile mark, but the board agreed to spend $2,500 to repair it.

“We could get another year, maybe more, out of that bus,” Murell said.

The county received two new buses in December 2018 and ordered another. Getting a new bus takes the county about two years, Murell said.

“If we get this other bus, that would put us ahead of the curve,” he added. “We have to make sure we can get the funding for the bus. We are working on that at this time.”

For more information about the county bus schedule, route, passenger fares and policies, visit columbiacountyny.com/public-transportation.html