What’s your stop? Workshop explores local bus service

HUDSON–Catskill, Taconic State Park and Chatham were the places with no county bus service that received the most pins on a map that asked people to put “pins where you think are important for bus stops,” at the Getting Around workshop in Hudson June 5.

The place outside of Hudson that received the most pins was Philmont, which has county bus service, but only three days a week. On a chart that asked people to stick adhesive dots on time slots that “would be most convenient for the bus,” all slots—including weekends and evenings—received many dots. One table at the workshop offered people the chance to answer a survey about public transportation needs and wants in Columbia County.

Getting Around was “a youth-led community workshop to improve our public transportation.” It was held at the Hudson Area Library. The Workshop was spearheaded by Raising Places in collaboration with the county Department of Social Services. Raising Places is a project of Greater Good Studio, based in Chicago, which “designs tools for social change.” It picked Hudson as one of that project’s sites, with Kite’s Nest and Greater Hudson Promise Neighborhoods its contacts there.

Kaya Weidman, executive director of Kite’s Nest, which calls itself a “center for liberatory education,” explained that the Raising Places project includes identifying “community challenges that affect youth and families,” and in Hudson “transportation was identified as something that does not serve youth well.”

The result was the Getting Around workshop.

The workshop sought ideas for schedules, routes, signs, schedule formats and bus shelters “that better serve, youth, seniors and families.” In addition to the maps, pins, charts, dots, and survey, it also contained tables that gave the public the opportunity to design hypothetical bus stops, look at current bus schedules and maps, and suggest how to improve them.

The flyer announcing the workshop began, “Do you know we have a county and city bus system?”

“One week ago I did not know we have buses,” said Jasmin Ahmed, who has lived in Hudson all her life.

Actually, Columbia County has four types of bus routes, all operated by Johnston Transportation LLC:

• County buses that link a different community to Hudson and the Greenport shopping centers each day of the week

• Commuter buses between Hudson and Albany via Kinderhook and Valatie (Monday-Friday)

• Shopper shuttle loops between Hudson and the Greenport shopping centers (frequent service, Monday-Saturday)

• A new service between Philmont, Stottville, Hudson, and Columbia Greene Community College (CGCC). The CGCC service runs only Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and the last bus leaves the college at 3:30 pm.

The workshop had two maps: one of Hudson, for suggestions of bus stop locations; and one of the county and surrounding areas for suggestions of communities to serve. On this second map—in addition to Catskill, the Taconic State Park, Chatham, and Philmont—pins appeared on Stuyvesant Falls, Kinderhook, Valatie, Stottville, Livingston, Ghent, Copake, and Beebe Hill State Forest. Some of these places have no service now; some have service unusable by many people for important purposes.

Somebody added a sticky note suggesting a bus to the Poughkeepsie Railroad Station.

On the time chart, mornings before 9, afternoons 12-5, evenings 5-8, and weekend received more dots than mornings 9-12, although that also received many dots.

As for action after the workshop, Ms. Weidman said by phone June 7, “We’re talking with Commissioner of Social Services Robert Gibson, we’ll be meeting with members of the Transportation Sub-Committee of the County Board of Supervisors,” and the survey continues. Mr. Gibson “has been very proactive, interested in collaboration, and very positive about a more youth-friendly transportation system,” she said.

Meanwhile, the survey continues. Ms. Weidman said she was posting a link to it on Kite’s Nest Facebook page. “We’re looking for more feedback,” she said, “including from people who live outside of Hudson.”

People can still answer the survey via the Facebook page of Kite’s Nest, which was involved with the workshop. The survey is at docs.google.com, it’s title is “Wait, Hudson has a bus system?”

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