CDTA Announces the Launch of its Bus Rapid Transit Purple Line

CDTA Launches Purple Line BRT

November 06, 2023

CDTA Is Rolling Out Its Third Bus Rapid Transit Line – Allowing Riders Fast And Affordable Access To Downtown, College of St. Rose, UAlbany, Crossgates Mall And Other Destinations Across the Capital Region

Albany, NY (November 6, 2023) After launching his push almost exactly a decade ago to transform Capital Region bus transit with new service, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today announced the launch of the Capital District Transportation Authority’s (CDTA) new BusPlus Purple Line, which will run from Downtown Albany along the Washington and Western Avenue corridors to Crossgates Mall. Schumer, who delivered the $60+ million to make the Purple line possible and tens of millions of additional funding, said CDTA’s third Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Line will provide limited stop service along the busiest corridors in the Capital Region, offering faster and more frequency than traditional bus operations.

“Ten years ago, I stood with Carm Basile at the College of St. Rose and committed to building on the success of the BusPlus Red Line, with a vision for a 40-mile network of bus rapid transit in the Capital Region. After years of relentless advocacy, the BusPlus Purple Line has finally arrived for Capital Region commuters, and completes that vision! I’m thrilled to see that after delivering nearly $115 million in federal investment to help CDTA realize this dream, Albany riders will now have fast, accessible, and affordable access to destinations across the Capital Region,” said Senator Schumer. “Reliable transportation connecting key areas of the city will help to revitalize the local economy in an environmentally friendly way. I am proud to have helped the Purple Line become a reality for Capital Region commuters, and to complete 40 miles of a Bus Rapid Transit system that is the model for cities across upstate New York”

“It’s a proud day for CDTA as we launch our third Bus Rapid Transit Line,” said CDTA CEO Carm Basile. “The Purple Line completes a network of Bus Rapid Transit lines that connect people along some of the most densely populated and heavily traveled corridors in the Capital Region. Thank you to our CDTA family and Board of Directors who remained committed to this effort and got the work done to make three BRT’s a reality. Senator Schumer has been a tremendous partner and advocate for us in Washington, helping us to secure funding for the construction of these lines and the purchase of buses and other equipment needed to operate BRT. He helped us build a reputation with our partners at the Federal Transit Administration as a can-do organization with the people and the know how to build and operate advanced transit services.”

“UAlbany students, faculty and staff are already the largest users of CDTA, and the launch of the Purple Line is another major milestone in improving the accessibility and sustainability of our campuses,” said University at Albany President Havidán Rodríguez. “The Purple Line is not only our favorite color but seamlessly connects our Downtown Campus, ETEC building, Uptown Campus and the Albany NanoTech Complex with faster and more convenient service. Better service makes public transit even more appealing and helps reduce climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions. I’m also thrilled that the newly completed CDTA Busway along Alumni Drive adds to the pedestrian infrastructure that already makes our Uptown Campus a beacon for walkers and cyclists. We are truly grateful to Sen. Schumer for being such a forceful advocate for high-quality public transit, and to Carm Basile and CDTA for their leadership and 10 years of partnership in realizing this ambitious vision.”

Schumer said that the new BusPlus Purple Line will provide, affordable, dependable, express transit service for residents and students to employment and entertainment centers across the route, connecting riders with downtown Albany, the College of St. Rose, the Harriman State Office Campus, the University at Albany, the Albany Nanotech campus and Crossgates Mall in Guilderland. The new line will also provide an ideal transportation option to travel from local college campuses, where students are less likely to own a car.

Schumer pointed out that along the new BRT route, parking is limited, the cost of building parking garages is high, and land for surface lots is nonexistent, making this extension of public transportation in high demand. With larger stations, more frequent and expanded hours of operation, the new Purple Line will relieve congestion along highly-traveled roadways, and the Washington/Western Corridor line will get a return on this investment in a variety of ways through increased economic activity generated by connecting travelers to their destinations, such as local businesses and shopping. As an introduction to CDTA’s newest service, the Purple Line will run fare free for the first two weeks of operation, from Sunday, November 5 through Sunday, November 19.

The Purple Line will also connect to the existing Red and Blue Lines, allowing riders fast, accessible, and affordable access to destinations in Schenectady, Watervliet, Troy and Cohoes.  Schumer said that the CDTA’s second busiest transit services operate along the Washington and Western Avenue corridors, reducing traffic congestion along major roadways in and adjacent to the corridor. Furthermore, he said 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.

In 2020, Schumer secured $60.89 million (which ultimately grew to $63.5 million) in federal funding for the CDTA to implement the Purple Line, its third bus rapid transit (BRT) line. The funding came from the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Capital Investment Grant Program which Schumer began his push for in 2013. Schumer said that the project cost $81.18 million in total. The $63.5 million from the FTA funded 75 percent of the total cost to implement the new line. The New York State Department of Transportation contributed an additional $10.99 million, or 13.5 percent of the total cost, and the CDTA contributed $9.3 million, or 11.5 percent of the total cost.

In addition to helping secure the $63.5 million for the new Purple Line, Schumer also previously helped secure $18.5 million in federal funding for the Red Line connecting Albany and Schenectady, And, in 2019 Schumer helped CDTA to secure $32M from the FTA program for the Blue Line which connects Albany to Watervliet, Troy, Cohoes and Waterford.

Schumer has been a relentless advocate for the CDTA and the expansion of Capital Region transportation through recent legislation. Since the start of the pandemic Schumer has fought hard to prioritize relief for Upstate New York transit systems so that they could not only make up for tremendous revenue losses during the height of COVID, but invest in their services to better service the community, like through indicatives like the new transit center. The senator secured over $42.7 million for CDTA through the CARES Act, $28 million for transit in the Albany region through the FY21 COVID Omnibus (Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021), and an additional $51 million through the American Rescue Plan. Finally, in his bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act, Schumer was able to deliver an estimated $113.9 million for the CDTA over the next 5 years. In addition, Schumer has helped create new opportunities for competitive grants which have allowed the CDTA to purchase 12 new electric buses and expand their charging infrastructure to reduce emissions, fight climate change, and give Capital Region residents a cleaner commute.