Final Approval Of UCAT Expansion To Serve City Of Kingston Rests With County Legislature
KINGSTON, N.Y. – A major transformation in the delivery of public transit within Ulster County and the City of Kingston moved closer to final approval in late March, when Acting County Executive Adele B. Reiter submitted a formal resolution for consideration by the Ulster County Legislature at their upcoming legislative session on April 16. Following approval by the Kingston Common Council on March 5th, the resolution is the final step required to authorize the dissolution of the City of Kingston’s Citibus service and the simultaneous expansion of Ulster County Area Transit’s (UCAT) service to include three new routes in the City.
The UCAT/Citibus integration was a major initiative announced in October 2018. Upon Legislative approval the County is prepared to take over bus service in Kingston starting on July 1, 2019. Since taking office, Acting County Executive Adele B. Reiter has continued to advance the bus integration project and has directed UCAT staff to prepare for a July 1st launch of the new Kingston bus routes.
“The integration of public transportation services throughout Ulster County was one of former County Executive Mike Hein’s top priorities,” said Acting County Executive Adele B. Reiter. “For years, under his leadership, this Administration worked in partnership with the Legislature to design an integrated, County-wide transit service that would more effectively and efficiently meet the needs of people who choose to ride rather than drive, as well as those who rely on public transportation. Where today a Citibus trip between Downtown and Uptown Kingston can take upwards of an hour, the new routes that UCAT has developed will take only fifteen minutes. Upon UCAT’s expansion to cover the City of Kingston, all rides within the City would be fare-free through the end of 2019. And by coordinating stops with our existing UCAT routes to SUNY Ulster, SUNY New Paltz, the Poughkeepsie Train Station and many other important destinations, I am confident that UCAT’s expansion of service in Kingston will transform the way that people think about public transportation in Kingston and throughout the County.”
While ridership on Citibus has declined by half over the past decade, UCAT ridership has more than doubled, reaching over 400,000 annual riders in 2017. The County’s fleet of vehicles, which includes 4 30’ bio-diesel buses, 5 35’ hybrid electric-diesel buses, 1 40’ hybrid electric-diesel buses, and plans to add all-electric vehicles in 2020, is more flexible to meet ridership demands in the City of Kingston. In addition, UCAT’s investment in technology – such as a smartphone app that provides real-time bus location and arrival information and our recent launch of free WiFi service on all of our buses – already makes riding the bus more convenient and reliable on UCAT’s existing routes.
“We pride ourselves here at UCAT on operating a first-class public transportation system,” said UCAT Director Carol Hargrove. “Every three years, the Federal Transit Administration performs a top-to-bottom review of all transit agencies in the nation, and UCAT regularly ranks among the top 2% of all agencies in the U.S.. Thanks to the support of our former County Executive Mike Hein and Acting County Executive Adele B. Reiter, and with the hard work of our UCAT drivers, schedulers, mechanics, and administrative staff, we have built an agency that not only delivers excellent services to the residents of Ulster County, but that can respond to new challenges and opportunities. We are ready and eager to prove to the residents of Kingston that UCAT can meet and exceed their transportation needs.”
Detailed information regarding the UCAT/Citibus Transit Systems Integration project, including a fact sheet that details the proposed new routes within the City of Kingston, is available on the Ulster County website at https://ulstercountyny.gov/transportation-council/active-studies/transit-system-integration.