SCHUMER ANNOUNCES, AFTER HIS PUSH, CDTA HAS BEEN ACCEPTED INTO FED. SMALL STARTS PROGRAM; OPENS CDTA UP TO SIGNIFICANT FED. FUNDING TO EXPAND BUS RAPID TRANSIT LINE NEW BRT LINE WOULD BOOST LOCAL ECONOMY, MAKE TRANSPORTATION MORE CONVENIENT & ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY FOR CAPITAL REGION RESIDENTS
In March, Schumer Urged Fed. Transit Administration to Support CDTAs Application To Join Small Starts Program Opens CDTA Up for Funding to Build New Washington/Western "Purple Line" That Will Connect The City Of Albany To The Crossgates Mall, SUNY Albany, And Various Other Destinations
Schumer Announces That FTA Has Heeded His Call & Approved CDTA To Join Small Starts Program CDTA Could Ultimately Receive Up To $50 Million for the Projected $65 Million BRT Project
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that, after his push, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has approved the Capital District Transportation Authority's (CDTA) application to join the "Small Starts" program, which opens them up to receive federal funds to expand Albany's bus system. Specifically, as a result of being accepted into the program, CDTA could now eligible to receive approximately $50 million in funding. Schumer urged CDTA to apply for "Small Starts" during an event at the College of St. Rose in October 2013. Schumer also wrote to the FTA in March in support of CDTA's application to join "Small Starts." Now, the CDTA will work with FTA to review the project plan for its new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line and determine how much funding it can receive. The line would run through the city of Albany, connecting downtown to the Crossgates Mall, the multiple campuses of the University at Albany, the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, the College of St. Rose, Albany High School and more.
"This is great news for Albany residents and commuters," said Schumer. "Acceptance into the 'Small Starts' program is the first step in getting the Purple Line up and running and connecting key areas of the city in an efficient, environmentallyfriendly way. I am pleased that FTA has seen how important this project is to CDTA and its longterm vision for Bus Rapid Transit."
Schumer previously helped secure federal funding for the Bus Rapid Transit line on Route 5, and the route has been a resounding success. In January of 2014, Schumer questioned Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff during a Banking Committee hearing about his support for the expansion of bus rapid transit and whether these efforts were a good match for their "Small Starts" program. Administrator Rogoff answered positively in both cases and said the CDTA's application would be a great candidate for "Small Starts".
The introduction of BusPlus service along the WashingtonWestern Corridor - the proposed "Purple Line" - will provide customers with better and faster transit service. The WWBRT will reduce traffic congestion along major roadways in and adjacent to the corridor. Schumer explained that by increasing the access to local businesses and shopping centers, the new service will stimulate economic development and, specifically, act as a catalyst for revitalization of the urban neighborhoods that surround its stations as well as the potential redevelopment of the Harriman State Office Campus. It will also provide an ideal transportation option to travel from local college campuses, where students are less likely to own a car, to popular attractions like the Crossgates Mall and downtown Albany. Schumer also pointed out that along the proposed WWBRT route, parking is limited, the cost of building parking garages is high, and land for surface lots is nonexistent - so an extension of public transportation is in highdemand. With larger stations, more frequent and expanded hours of operation, and the potential to relieve congestion along highlytraveled roadways, the BusPlus line returns on investment in a variety of ways.
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) administers the Section 5309 Capital Investment Grant program, which provides capital funds for major transit investment projects. The Section 5309 Capital Investment Grants program now includes a new project category called "Small Starts." These projects are lowcost projects, like transportation corridor improvements, that qualify for a highly simplified project evaluation and rating process by FTA.
A copy of Senator Schumer's original letter to Federal Transit Administrator Therese McMillan appears below:
Dear Administrator McMillan,
I am writing to urge the Federal Transit Administration's support of the Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA) - Proposed Washington/Western Bus Rapid Transit Line - Small Starts - Project Development application. You may recall that I raised this project to your predecessor, Administrator Peter Rogoff, when he testified to the Senate Banking Committee on January 16, 2014.
The expansion of fast, efficient and environmentally sound connections between major activity centers is needed in the upstate New York region served by the CDTA, but especially through the City of Albany. In the past, I was helpful in securing appropriations funding for CDTA's first BRT which runs along the Route 5 corridor and links the cities of Albany and Schenectady. The Route 5 BRT line has been a tremendous success and CDTA has proposed to expand their BRT program. A large number of major activity centers have been identified, including several Albany neighborhoods, state governmental centers, major educational institutions, shopping centers and proposed developments. The proposed Washington/Western BRT Line would serve downtown, the State Capitol and several large state office buildings, the College of St. Rose, the Harriman State Office Campus, the University at Albany, the State University's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, the region's largest shopping center, Crossgates Mall. Other transit connections to the Greyhound bus station at the Albany Bus Terminal stop are also primary activity centers.
With a significant percentage (2535%) of the population that does not own an automobile, improved mobility for this transit dependent population in Albany is much needed. Improved access to jobs, schools, universities and shopping centers would benefit these individuals.
The improved mobility and access that would be afforded by this expanded bus rapid transit line would also encourage the redevelopment and revitalization of many underutilized properties and parcels in the eastern end of the proposed Washington/Western Bus Rapid Transit Line corridor.
Overall, this project would significantly boost the Capital Region's economy, help invigorate multiple neighborhoods in the City of Albany and Town of Guilderland, and thereby raise the standard of living for our citizens.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator