Funding Announced for Rural Transportation Projects

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently announced $32.4 million in funding to support public transportation in rural areas such as Greene and Columbia counties.

Cuomo made the announcement about the funding, which will be provided through the Formula Grants for Rural Areas program, on Feb. 22.

The program will provide selected applicants up to 80 percent of capital and 50 percent of operating project-related costs and the remaining funds will be provided by the state and project sponsors, according to a statement from Cuomo’s office.

The funding is made available through the Federal Transit Administration and administered by the New York State Department of Transportation, according to the release.

Counties, cities and tribal governments with populations of less than 50,000 that own and operate or directly contract for rural public transportation services, upstate regional transportation authorities, and multi-county intercity bus services sponsored by the Department of Transportation will be eligible to apply, according to the statement.

“Providing efficient and reliable public transportation in rural communities is critical to increasing mobility and accessibility for upstate New Yorkers and to helping ensure future prosperity for their communities,” Cuomo said. “This funding will help strengthen the link between rural areas and smaller cities, supporting regional economic growth and increasing ease of access for residents and visitors to our state.”

The Department of Transportation will give preference to public transportation projects that eliminate transportation barriers, improve mobility opportunities in rural areas, encourage and support increased coordination of public transportation services with other human service agency provided transportation services, and ensure a successful Intercity Bus program, according to the release.

Funding applications will be accepted until April 10.

Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden is unfamiliar with the funding and is unsure if the county would be eligible, but said the county would like to add more routes to its public bus system, the Greene County Transit System.

“Certainly if there’s funds available we would like to expand,” he said. “I don’t know if we would be eligible or not, but we would like to have two more [bus] routes.”

The bus system is operated and managed by the Arc of Ulster-Greene, a private, nonprofit agency that provides public transit services between Catskill and the outer areas of the county.

The county’s partnership with the Arc has been effective since June 1.

The cost of the bus service is shared between the county, Arc and Department of Transportation, Warren Hart, the Greene County Economic Development, Tourism and Planning director, said in January.

The county has a contract with Arc and the organization purchased buses with grants and private funds. Money is set aside in the 2017 county budget to purchase more buses, Hart said in January.

Groden is unsure if the county or Arc would apply for additional funds if the county is interested and deemed eligible.

Although it is unclear if the governor’s recently announced funds could contribute to the bus service, the county would like to add another route from Catskill to Columbia-Greene Community College, Groden said.

“Sometimes our students have a hard time with transportation, so we are very interested in getting a route over to the school,” he said.

Another route could be added from a mountaintop town to Catskill.

Mountaintop residents are pleased with the county’s transit system, Greene County Legislator Lori Torgersen, D-Windham, said.

“I know that everyone on the mountaintop, and everyone in Greene County, has been very enthusiastic about it,” Torgersen said. “There’s been a lot of enthusiasm about what is possible, and the growth potential.”

Torgersen also noted the importance of a transit system, especially for senior citizens.

“I think for seniors, transportation is critical,” she said. “Greene County is a big county and we have wonderful resources on the mountaintop, but folks need to get down the mountain as well to access services in Catskill, so I think the growth opportunities are important for seniors.”

More information about bus schedules and fares can be found online at

To reach reporter Victoria Addison, call (518) 828-1616, ext. 2418, email or follow her on Twitter @VAddison_CGM.

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