CDTA has responded to the questions raised by the three previous articles dealing with the restructuring of routes completed in November. There were several queries regarding the impact on the riders and CDTA’s financial and employment situations. Jonathan Scherzer, Director of Marketing for the Authority, provided some insight into the reasons and results of the recent changes.
The initial question was regarding the removal of Route 232 from the Hampton Manor area of East Greenbush. According to Mr. Scherzer low ridership in the area was the predominating factor. Financial implications were ‘part of the equation but do not specifically drive service planning decisions.” CDTA reports that they have had some conversations with customers in this area but those changes have been part of the system for quite awhile now.
The next concern from riders from the outlying areas was that Some of the new routes and the re-adjusted routes indicated that there was increased mileage and commute time. Will this be affecting the financial bottom-line at CDTA? The response is that “the recent route restructurings that CDTA has rolled out have all been cost neutral utilizing the same overall amount of resources. Those resources have been redistributed to areas that have shown increased demand for services. Using Phase 2 as an example, we were able to create new neighborhood routes (#155, #117) that travel quite a distance. We were able to make those routes through the discontinuation of our flexible shuttle service that was severely underutilized along with making other routes operate more efficiently by matching current ridership trends.’
With these cuts and changes are there or will there be an increase or decrease in the number of workers employed by CDTA? Service planning decisions follow the Transit Development Plan (TDP) which was adopted back in 2007 and are not specifically tied to employment levels. That said, CDTA spent the better part of 2012 re-organizing in order to better balance expenses and revenues. Staffing throughout the Authority is down to roughly 630 employees, almost exclusively through attrition, from 675 the previous year.
What criteria were used to develop these changes and will there be a follow-up with the passengers or further open meetings to address their issues with the changes? The TDP outlines a set of metrics that we use to determine successful service deployment. It involves thresholds (riders, hours of operation, etc.) and some additional categories. We have already met with customers that had questions about the changes, continuing the process that began over a year ago when discussing the Albany County Route Restructuring. There is often an adjustment period as customers are set in their routines and have to see what works for them moving forward.
Are all these changes considered permanent or will adjustments be made if needed? Lately a good portion of time has been spent restructuring the services The plan now is to let the system settle a bit going into 2013. Mr. Scherzer says ’there are likely to be adjustments to some of the November changes, which is no different than after Phase One in November 2011. Bends and tweaks to ensure service is working as designed and is providing what our customers need to get to work, the doctor or just about anywhere.’
There are no further Phases to come at present. CDTA says that they will continue to monitor the entire system with the goal of providing services that are as efficient as possible. There will undoubtedly be more changes in store but not in the immediate future.