Supe says better bus service starts with signs

HUDSON–Making it easier for people to “know how to use the buses” and improving the “bus infrastructure” are two priorities for transportation in Columbia County, said county Supervisor Michael Chameides (D-Hudson, 3rd Ward) by phone June 1. Expanding bus service, he added, could be considered only if people “clamor” for it.

Mr. Chameides is on the Transportation Subcommittee of the County Government Committee of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors, chaired by Supervisor Rick Scalera (D-Hudson, 5th Ward).

In order to “engage with people” about bus service, Mr. Chameides is seeking improvements in the county website’s transportation section, in bus stop signs and in bus maps. At bus stops, “I would like to see something that says: 1. ‘This is a bus stop’; 2. ‘Here is a picture of its bus route(s)’; 3. ‘These are the days and times the bus stops here.’” For this purpose, he said he is working with the board and “other community members.” One possibility is “a trial” of better bus stop signs in “three or four places.”

As for infrastructure, “We don’t have quality buses,” Mr. Chameides said , adding that buses on county routes are aging and in need of repair. Funds for fixing or replacing the buses comes from the state, he said.

Currently, Mr. Chameides explained, the county has four types of bus routes:

1. Between Hudson and Albany (Monday through Friday)

2. Shoppers Shuttles between Hudson and the shopping centers on Fairview Avenue (state Route 9) in Greenport (Monday through Saturday)

3. County Buses,” each serving a different part of the county one day a week, going to Hudson in the morning and returning in the afternoon

4. Between Columbia Greene Community College (CGCC) and Hudson and Philmont (3 days a week).

Mr. Chameides called the first three types currently successful; but the fourth, he said, “can be messaged.”

The CGCC bus operates Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, going to the college twice in the morning and leaving the college once, at 3:30 p.m. When asked whether the CGCC bus route would have more riders if it operated at least five days a week, Mr. Chameides said, “I would love to see personal stories from people in the community. We don’t have a presence of a group of people clamoring for it.”

If professors want better service to CGCC, they have to speak up, he said. Likewise, “If people from Kinderhook want a bus to CGCC, they have to be vocal. CGCC provides a great service to the county and workforce development.”

The county Department of Social Services, which spearheaded the CGCC bus to get its clients to employment counseling and career training, has indicated that improving the CGCC bus schedule warrants consideration.

When asked about the possibility of an additional bus serving CGCC that served riders in both Hudson and Catskill, Mr. Chameides said, “That sounds like a great idea, but that hasn’t been part of the discussion.”

He also said that making it safer for pedestrians to cross Route 23 to get to the college, he said that was the responsibility of the Town of Greenport.

For the County buses, Mr. Chameides acknowledged, “People want more service. But that must be balanced with cost. I would like to see more buses and a greater frequency. The challenge is to get support from the county and the taxpayers.”

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