Albany, NY: Capital District Transportation Authority

CDTA Web Site

NY 5 BRT
(Bus Rapid Transit in the Capital District of New York State. Project sponsored by the Capital District Transportation Authority and the Capital District Transportation Committee.)

BRT has emerged as the most appropriate mode of high quality transit for the Capital District for the foreseeable future due the combination of passenger-pleasing service, flexibility in design and lower cost that light rail. The NY 5 Land Use and Transportation Study has recommended that the first example of BRT in the area be in the NY 5 corridor from Albany to Schenectady via Colonie. The study has been endorsed by all five municipalities involved, the Cities of Albany and Schenectady, the Towns of Colonie and Niskayuna and the Village of Colonie. These municipalities, along with the Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA), Capital District Transportation Committee (CDTC), and the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) have set up a group known as the NY 5 BRT/Streetscape Committee to develop the BRT system in more detail.

Rear View of a BRT Bus at Bus Stop

In July, 2002, a BRT workshop was held that brought together planning, transit operations, business and citizen stakeholders to set a direction for BRT project development and planning. The workshop presented an opportunity for people to learn and discuss issues related to BRT. Over the course of the discussion several themes emerged.

Critical mass BRT should be implemented in two phases. The first phase must include a "critical mass" of features that would clearly set BRT apart as a high quality transit mode that would attract new riders.

Parking connection - Urban centers in the Capital District were built when walking and transit were the primary means of access and now find themselves with significant parking shortages. If higher quality transit service could attract a larger share of commuters to transit and away from parking downtown, a major urban revitalization challenge could be overcome.

Committees/Outreach - BRT implementation is complex, has many impacts and requires support from diverse stakeholders. It is important to provide these groups with information and opportunities for participation on a regular basis.

Education is fundamental - The process of learning about BRT should be extended and expanded through presentations to civic and business organizations, site visits to working BRT services and additional forums dedicated to the BRT project.

The following table shows some of the desirable elements identified so far in the NY 5 BRT planning process. It shows these features in terms of their possibility for implementation in the short term or longer term. The table also shows how certain packages of capital improvements are required for implementation of each phase of improved BRT service.

Preliminary Phasing for BRT Implementation

Feature

Short-term Capital Implementation (2006)

Phase I Service - "Critical Mass"

Long-term Capital Options

Phase II Service

Transit Signal Priority

Under Construction

Required

Yes

Required

AVL/Real Time Information

Under Construction

Required

Yes

Required

New Shelters and Signage

Yes

Required

Yes

Required

Comprehensive Marketing Program

Yes

Required

Yes

Required

Limited Stop Service

Yes

Required

Yes

Required

Queue Jumpers

Possible

Desirable

Yes

Required

New Buses

Yes

Desirable

Yes

Required

Bus lanes

Possible

Desirable

Yes

Desirable

New Feeder Routes

No

No

Yes

Required

Off-Board Fare Collection

No

No

Yes

Desirable

Transfer Centers

No

No

Yes

Required

Two capital elements of BRT are already being implemented in the NY 5 corridor, a new traffic signal system for NY 5 which includes transit signal priority (TSP) at 35 of the 81 signalized intersections, and a new communications and dispatch system including automatic vehicle location (AVL), both of which are expected to be completed toward the end of 2003.

After the implementation of these systems, other capital projects related to BRT will be progressed as funding becomes available. The CDTC and CDTA are studying the various potential elements for BRT listed in the table above, including their benefits in local circumstances, their costs, and how they should best be implemented.

As capital projects are implemented by the various responsible agencies and jurisdictions along NY 5, BRT service will be improved to take advantage of their benefits. The preliminary plan is to implement service in two phases, each of which bundles a new set of the capital improvements spelled out above with a new service level that provides a clear positive impact for riders and a higher-quality image for transit to the general public. Phase I operating improvements can proceed as soon as the TSP and AVL projects are complete and will include a new limited stop route, new shelters and upgraded vehicles. Running time will be reduced to about 55 minutes and off-peak headways improved to at least 15 minutes all the way from Albany to Schenectady.

Phase II requires the construction of bus-only lanes and new transit centers at key locations and could also include proof-of-payment fare collection, purpose-built BRT vehicles, and more elaborate facilities at all stations. Running time would be further reduced to about 45 minutes and frequencies to 10 minutes all day.

The next task in the project is completing an implementation plan laying out the required improvements for the entire corridor. This plan will give all jurisdictions and stakeholders in the corridor a single reference document to refer to when constructing any type of infrastructure change that might impact BRT. Operations modeling of the corridor to identify necessary transit priority features, fleet size and operational issues will be included. Partnerships with community and business organizations will be established to allow station locations and features to be finalized. The plan will also be used to secure funding from local, state and federal sources.

For more details about the project, please see  [www.NY5.org]

Contact Information:

Jack M. Reilly, Ph.D.
jack@cdta.org
Deputy Director (see address above)

Kristina Younger, AICP
kristina@cdta.org
Manager of Planning (see address above)

Anne Benware
cdtc@crisny.org
Project Manager, NY 5 Land Use and Transportation Study

Capital District Transportation Committee (Albany area MPO)
5 Computer Drive West
Albany, NY 12205
518-458-2161

Related Item: Albany Fact Sheet