AMSTERDAM, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The wheels on the new CDTA buses are making the rounds around Amsterdam for a steady start to the first public transit the community has had in five years. By the fourth full-service day Wednesday, riders young and old are getting the hang of the routes and the convenience.
“It was nice, and it made it so I didn’t have to walk where I had to go, obviously,” explains rider and Amsterdam High School incoming freshman George Fisher. “From downtown to the clubhouse from where I was, [walking takes] like half an hour, but then [the bus] made it like eight minutes.”
Fisher and his friends, all fellow incoming freshmen, say they’re taking full advantage of the new CDTA buses now so while their parents work, they can still make it across town to the local clubhouse where they play in a basketball league.
“Most of the time when we don’t go, it’s because we don’t have rides and we all live kind of far from up here and everything, so the buses make everything easier to go to,” explains Toby Rivera.
They say they’ll especially need the CDTA lines when school starts on September 6 since Greater Amsterdam, like many school districts, still struggles through a bus driver shortage.
“Last year I would always miss my first period class, like, all the time,” says Adrien Roche.
“On the yellow buses, we’d be late to school at like 8:30 or something because they would never come without bus drivers. We’d have to come into class late and there were people failing their first periods because we had no idea what was going on, so we’d have to come in to make up work and stay in class with an advisor,” Rivera adds.
“Normally, I’d have to walk to school. You know, I live closer to the middle school so going to the high school is going to be a problem, but I mean the [CDTA] buses are here now so it’s gonna be easier to get there,” pipes up Xavion Serrano.
Fortunately, Superintendent Richard Ruberti says they’ve already handed out more than 400 free bus passes to parents during two informational sessions, and he expects around half the high school population will all use CDTA.
“Our hope is by having those high school students on CDTA buses, it will alleviate some of the issues as we move down to the middle school and the elementary,” Ruberti explains to NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton.
“I see it as leveling the playing field, giving opportunities to families who may not have transportation. It’s a clean, comfortable way to go. It’s air-conditioned buses, they have cameras just like our school buses do, the same code-of-conduct for our students, the double pickup in the morning is amazing, so I think the impact of this will be much larger over time,” he goes on to say.
Meanwhile, CDTA Communications Manager Emily DeVito says she hopes everyone will take advantage of the temporary free rides until September 18 to get your bearings on the new buses.
“I just was speaking to a driver who said she’s picked up a woman three times this week just to go to Saint Mary’s Hospital for her doctor’s appointment and she’s elderly and she was super excited that she did not have to worry about hopping in a cab, calling a cab. I think it’s those trips that — it’s the real reason why we’re out here,” she says.