Friday, January 25, 2013
By Mid-Hudson News Network
KINGSTON, N.Y. — A Transit Development Plan presented this week by the Ulster County Transportation Council calls for cooperation between local bus systems, altering some routes and improving timetables.
Ulster County currently has two public bus systems — the county-run UCAT (Ulster County Area Transit) and the Kingston-run Citibus — but “travel plans and interest in trips transcend municipal boundaries,” Boris Palchik, a senior associate at Nelson Nygaard, a Boston planning firm that was hired to study the operation of the systems, said during a public meeting Thursday at Kingston City Hall.
Palchik said residents of Kingston may want to travel outside the city for shopping or other reasons. “Political boundaries are somewhat arbitrary as far as transit users go,” he said.
Both the Kingston and Ulster County bus systems are stretched thin, but for different reasons, Palchik said.
Citibus is challenged by its fleet size, while UCAT is daunted by an enormous service area, he said. Their systems also share a number of flaws that affect ridership, including irregular routes and schedules, he said.
Possible improvements, he said, include making the routes smaller and offering more comprehensible timetables.
Another possibility is having each system provide information about the other so that riders are informed about connecting or complementary services. This concept, Palchik said, could evolve towards interoperability, or even a merger, between UCAT and Citibus.
The study cost about $170,000 to complete, said Ulster County Planning Commissioner Dennis Doyle, who also heads the Transportation Council. “There are large portions of money here at stake in terms of how transit systems operate,” Doyle said.
Passenger rail service is not planned for Ulster County, though UCAT offers bus service to Poughkeepsie’s Metro-North/Amtrak station. A Trailways bus route from Kingston to Poughkeepsie via U.S. Route 9W was abandoned last year.
An earlier bus route that went from Kingston to Poughkeepsie via Rhinebeck was “singularly unsuccessful in terms of ridership,” Doyle said.