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There is a lot of buzz around the latest hybrid and electric cars, solo flying vehicles, and driverless cars, but what awaits the future of public transportation?

The Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA) is a New York State non-profit which oversees the various modes of public transport in the Capital District comprising the counties of Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer and Saratoga. As such, one of its aims is to ensure that commuters have adequate and convenient access to public transport.

Public transport - buses
Faced with a myriad of challenges, the public transport industry not only has to address current needs, but also plan for future expansion and services. It must adapt a bold stance and employ creative solutions that will allow it to maintain active ridership levels and fare levels low. Some of the most pressing needs include on-time bus scheduling and service, shared ride private services, on-demand taxis and the demand for Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEVs).

The pressures on the industry, along with the rapid rate of development of new transport-related technology, can only be addressed by a task force formed by members of the CDTA and the Capital District Transportation Committee. According to, such a task force should help address the following issues:

  • How to improve on-time performance of CDTA? A recent study showed that more than one-fourth of all CDTA buses run late. The CDTA, and the industry in general, should look into means to improve on-time performance.
  • Should an on-demand service like Uber be offered as an alternative? The public is becoming more accustomed and dependent on services like Uber and Lyft. At what point, and what conditions should the industry start to rollout their own on-demand vehicle service?
  • Should the industry replace its diesel and hybrid with ZEVs? The CDTA is currently one ZEV for research purposes. Should the CDTA invest more capital funds in acquiring ZEVs?
  • Should the CDTA invest in driverless vehicles? Research on driverless vehicles are ongoing and it is just a matter of time before they go mainstream. What other associated issues should be addressed if and when the CDTA starts using driverless buses?

Hurdling these challenges would allow transit authorities to stay relevant as they offer more bold but practical options for commuters. The growing number of diverse options can be harnessed and included in planning for continued population growth in the urban areas. It is time to take a look at shared rides, ZEVs, on-demand taxis, as well as public conveyance conveniences like wifi, and to create an integrated solution for current and foreseeable transportation problems.

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