PLATTSBURGH — Newly-announced state funding aims to help Clinton and Franklin counties as well as other municipalities enhance and modernize their public transportation services.
Of $14.2 million awarded to 13 counties, cities and regional authorities, Clinton County received $120,000 to replace and modernize bus passenger shelters while Franklin County was given $300,000 to procure new clean-fuel buses and related equipment.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the funding, intended "to modernize and enhance municipally-sponsored public transportation services," on Tuesday, according to a press release.
"These strategic investments in public transportation systems will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance services in these communities, once again showing that New York is committed to building a bright, sustainable future," Cuomo said in a statement.
Clinton County Planning Technician James Bosley said the funding came through a State Department of Transportation Modernization and Enhancement Program grant the county applied for at the end of 2018.
He added that they applied for funds for larger shelters at the Clinton County Public Transportation facility as well as additional shelters at other bus stop locations.
"One of the challenges is that most of our bus stops occur on private property, so we cannot just go ahead and put up a shelter anywhere we might want to," Bosley said.
"We also change our routes frequently so it would not be good to put up a shelter in a place that soon after is no longer a bus stop."
Sometimes, there are more people waiting at the county's main bus stop next to the Clinton County Government Center on Cornelia Street than can fit under the shelters there, Bosley said.
He added that passengers have asked for heated shelters or shelters with bathrooms.
"Our passengers have asked for more bus shelters, so I hope that we can use this funding to install larger shelters for the main stop and get some more bus shelters out there along our bus routes.
It is unlikely that we will be able to offer shelters with heaters or bathrooms, but the solar lighting option is still a possibility."
Franklin County Public Transportation Coordinator Thomas McLane said the number of buses or type of equipment his county will purchase with the funding has not yet been determined.
The county currently has at least five clean-fuel buses in its fleet, he added.
"They’re gasoline-fueled buses, but they’re listed as clean-fuel because of their emission controls."
McLane assumes that the new buses will run on electricity, propane or natural gas.
"We’re excited to receive the grant and we’re happy that the governor thought of Franklin County to be able to help transport the disadvantaged and our seniors.
And we’re really in need of buses."
McLane said the funding does not put the county ahead of its normal bus replacement schedule, because they are already behind.
"It seems like when we get an opportunity to get new buses that we have to take old buses off the road, so it doesn’t really put us ahead in that aspect."
He hopes to see more funding opportunities like those announced this week.
The projects selected went through a competitive solicitation process which incorporated criteria developed as part of the Health Across All Policies initiative, a plan launched by the governor to integrate health considerations into policy-making, the press release said.
"Under Gov. Cuomo's leadership, New York continues to make sustained and historic investments in the health and wellness of upstate communities," State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said in a statement.
"In the process we are making our state's communities more transit supportive, walkable and bikeable than at any other point in our state's history."
State Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Tim Kennedy (D-Buffalo) said countless New Yorkers rely on public transportation every day.
"These investments across the state will result in cleaner, safer and more efficient transit networks."
Kennedy's Assembly counterpart, Assemblyman William Magnarelli (D-Syracuse) said enhancing transportation services helps revitalize communities and create new opportunities for economic growth.
"It is an investment that will result in positive outcomes."
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