First public peek at proposed Ulster County-Kingston bus system consolidation

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Maps were part of the presentation
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KINGSTON – Some 100 people came out Monday night to Kingston City Hall to hear transit experts and local officials explain the proposal to merge the Kingston Citibus fleet into the larger Ulster County Area Transit (UCAT) system.
Less than 100 riders use the current city bus system, on average for any of the three designated Citibus routes, according to studies conducted by consultants, on behalf of the Ulster County Transportation Council, the regional advisory agency which spearheaded the proposal.
Monthly average ridership for the Citibus system amounts to 4,520 on the A, B & C lines, which comprise 59 percent; the remaining 3,149 (41 percent) ride on special tours, such as the Kingston trolley bus, for the annual parade, festival and other events.
Surveys show the public is satisfied with nearly every aspect of the Citibus service, except frequency. Buses run through Kingston on an hourly basis, which means an able-bodied rider might walk across town quicker than the first bus arrives. These figures exclude consideration of the two lunch breaks each driver receives daily, making some waits twice as long.
Ultimately the Ulster County Legislature and the Kingston Common Council would both have to agree to allow UCAT to become the sole carrier throughout the area. The idea was incorporated into last year’s sales tax sharing agreement between the two municipalities.
County Planning Commissioner Dennis Doyle balked at labeling the arrangement as a takeover.
“We believe there is a substantial opportunity for the city and the county to come together and create a transparent, integrative, responsive transit system for the users within of the city,” said Doyle, who leads the effort as chairman of the Transportation Council, under the Ulster County Planning Department.
The proposal calls for UCAT routes passing through the city to make stops
in a way that allows for three revised bus routes serving Kingston every
30 minutes on weekdays, and 45 minutes on weekends. Each one-way trip
would average 15-20 minutes, as opposed to the current one-hour wait and
30-minute commute.
Additionally, outlying neighborhoods would be served through an on-demand system where the users calls one day ahead and get dropped off at one of three city bus hubs. The location of the new routes was determined by examining public need, including shopping, medical, and business destinations.
Doyle made a more detailed presentation to the common council immediately after the public hearing, which provided answers to financial details, and questions about union employment. He added that UCAT comes with a smart phone application, which tracks buses position by GPS and advises riders when it will be arriving.