Ulster, Orange and Dutchess counties aim to attack transportation troubles with a recent initiative to assess the state of mass transit.
The initiative, called the Mid-Hudson Transit Study, has three stated goals: identify ways to better coordinate existing transit systems, develop transit improvement strategies and determine how these systems can become more interconnected. The study includes both private and public transit providers across the tri-county area including Trailways, Coach USA and Ulster County Area Transit.
“Our goal is to help improve regional connections between each of the counties as well as other areas in New York State and the country,” said Boris Palchik, project manager of Foursquare ITP (FITP): a multi-modal transportation planning firm handling data collection for the counties.
Following a census in 2000, the Mid-Hudson Valley area was designated as a Transportation Management Area (TMA). According to the Ulster County website, a TMA is “an area designated by the Secretary of Transportation, having an urbanized area population of over 200,000, or upon special request from the Governor and the MPO designated for the area.” TMAs must be federally recertified every four years, and in order to do so they must develop strategies to reduce transit congestion.
Recently the Federal Transit Administration flagged the three involved counties for not having a Congestion Management Process (CMP) while they tried to get certified. A CMP identifies actions and strategies to reduce congestion and improve mobility. The counties then decided to hire FITP to compile the required data.
“The Connect Mid-Hudson Transit Study will assess the effectiveness of the current regional transit network in meeting the mobility needs of Mid-Hudson Valley residents and visitors,” Palchik said.
During the FITP’s initial research, they concluded that the highest commuter indexes are located in I-87 and US-9W Saugerties, Kingston, Highland and New Paltz, along with Ellenville, West Hurley, Wallkill and Woodstock. Additionally, they discovered that a majority of trips in Ulster County are to Rhinebeck and Poughkeepsie from areas across the river including New Paltz, Kingston, Saugerties (to Rhinebeck) and the US-44 corridor (to Poughkeepsie).
FITP is currently in the process of surveying county residents about their experiences with transit to find which areas need the most improvement. The survey asks questions including one’s travel time, frequency of travel, travel distance, travel purpose and their experiences with commuting.
“We could support a higher population density within the townand village if we have a reliable transit system that has the capability to support it,” said New Paltz Mayor Tim Rogers.
If you’d like to take FITP’s transit survey, you can visit: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ConnectMidHudson.