County tests expanding Hudson area bus schedule

HUDSON–Extended hours for the Greenport-Hudson shopping shuttle bus and how to announce service modifications caused by weather and emergencies dominated the February 12 meeting of the Public Transportation Subcommittee of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors.

Supervisor Michael Chameides (D-Hudson, 3rd Ward) said that the shopping shuttle bus, whose last run ends at about 3:04 pm, will get additional service on a 3-month trial basis, starting March 30. The shopping shuttle runs Monday through Saturday making seven loops through Greenport’s Fairview Avenue shopping centers, downtown Hudson and the residential developments between them. The first loop leaves Crosswinds, on Hudson’s Harry Howard Avenue, at 6:45 a.m. The last is scheduled to end on Harry Howard Avenue at 3:04 pm. The experiment will add loops, with the last one ending at about 6 p.m.

To notify the public about this extra service, people suggested posting fliers in youth organizations, housing complexes and the public areas of service organization facilities. Supervisor Richard Scalera (D-Hudson, 5th Ward) recommended making sure the fliers acknowledged that this service is just an experiment for three months.

The subcommittee also discussed how to notify riders about bus cancellations and delays due to bad weather, accidents along the route, and other emergencies. County 911 Director Rob Lopez said they “can send out message by cell phone, email or text.”

Somebody asked what about people who only have landline phones. Mr. Chameides suggested this might apply to several senior citizens.

“Then we can only yell,” said Mr. Scalera.

County Controller Ron Caponera suggested the radio station.

Even with sending out electronic messages as proposed, “the problem is we have to know who the audience is,” said Mr. Lopez. “People would have to sign up.” Once the dispatcher gets information, it would take five to ten minutes to send it out, he said.

“I think we could have an opt-in list” and solicit for it on buses and on the County website, said Mr. Chameides.

Another topic that arose was the possibility of installing shelters where riders could wait for buses. Mr. Chameides later clarified that these would be only at locations that have “enough space” for such shelters and where a relatively large number of people get on and off buses. At the February 12 meeting, somebody suggested “carport type shelters.” The bus shelters would be part of a new capital plan.

“There’s not a dramatic change in ridership in the past few years,” Mr. Chameides said. “I dug into numbers that the Controller’s Office gave last month. It was actually hard to track anything before 2018. But I was able to cherry pick a few months.”

The shopping shuttle has the highest revenue per mile, Mr. Chameides continued. County routes, which operate each day of the week to a different part of the county, produce the least revenue per mile. But the route mileage of the shopping shuttle is much shorter than that of the county routes. Customers on the shopping shuttle pay $1 each time they get on, while those on the County routes pay $1per day.

Mr. Chameides sought suggestions on how to improve the once-a-week bus the county runs between the Copake area and Hudson. Tactics include reaching out to both the towns and riders.

As for a public transportation plan, Mr. Chameides said, “the 2017 plan rubber stamps the 2012 plan. It has references to things that don’t exist anymore, ideas that never got enacted.”

He talked about hiring a consultant to work on a transportation coordination plan. He and the audience mentioned organizations to consider seeking funding for the consultant from.

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