A Morton Avenue bus will roll in the South End
Neighborhood group's persistence pays off; CDTA to launch route in August
By PAUL GRONDAHL Staff Writer
Updated 08:28 p.m., Thursday, February 24, 2011
. Lori Van Buren / Times Union
Willie White, executive director of a Village at Trinity Institution, talks about a petition for getting bus service on Morton Avenue on October 27, 2010. (Lori Van Buren) Lori Van Buren / Times Union Willie White, executive director of a.....
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ALBANY -- After two years of leaflets, petitions, neighborhood meetings, lobbying politicians and twice crashing CDTA's board meeting, residents of the South End have been assured that they'll get their long-awaited Morton Avenue bus.
"We've been on Cloud 9 since we got word. We're going to have a party," said Willie White, executive director of AVillage Inc.
"We're definitely going to put a bus on Morton Avenue," said CDTA spokeswoman Margo Janack. "They put forward a very strong, consolidated effort."
White and his grass-roots neighborhood organization led a full-court press to add bus service on the steep, milelong hill from South Pearl Street past Lincoln Park and up to Delaware Avenue and Albany Medical Center Hospital.
Longtime residents of Morton Avenue have complained in a sporadic and disorganized way for two decades about not having a bus in a low-income neighborhood where car ownership is low. People have resorted to stitching together a three- or four-transfer patchwork of bus routes across downtown that can take more than one hour to traverse the daunting hill up to Albany Med.
Mostly, South Enders have suffered in silence, grumbling among themselves about the byproduct of being poor and disenfranchised, as they trudged up the steep grade laden with groceries, pushing strollers or wheelchairs over snowbanks and through inclement weather in all seasons.
"The bus has been needed for a long time," said Benna Eldridge, director of the family and neighborhood resource center of Trinity Alliance of the Capital Region. "I heard a lot of people saying they couldn't get to their treatments at Albany Med or couldn't get to jobs because we don't have a bus."
The culmination of the group's quest came on Tuesday, when White and his colleagues camped out once again at the offices of the Capital District Transportation Authority. "You've got your bus," executive director Carm Basile told them, worn down by their relentless pressure.
While White had hoped that bus service would start in the spring, it likely will not begin until August when the first phase of a county-wide restructuring of bus routes is put in place, Janack said.
"We've done ridership analysis and surveyed customers and we found strong support for a Morton Avenue bus," Janack said. "The issue now is taking time to make sure it connects with our system as a whole."
"This took a lot of effort by a lot of people, but we stood up for something we believed in," White said. "This is a victory for the South End. When we join forces as a community, the sky's the limit."
Reach Paul Grondahl at 454-5623 or email@example.com.
South End residents seek a lift
Community asks CDTA for a bus route on Morton Avenue
By PAUL GRONDAHL Staff Writer
Published 12:00 a.m., Friday, October 29, 2010
Read more: http://www.timesunion.com/default/article/South-End-residents-seek-a-lift-735643.php#ixzz1Fumyk9O0
ALBANY -- For the poor, elderly and infirm residents of the South End, the long, steep grade of Morton Avenue is their heartbreak hill.
No regular bus transports them up the beast they call simply "the hill." The incline continues to climb in a heart-pounding ascent along the length of Lincoln Park all the way up to Delaware Avenue before leveling out.
Many folks in this low-income neighborhood don't own a car, lack the strength to walk the hill or can't afford a $15 cab fare to take them to and from Albany Medical Center Hospital, Stratton VA Medical Center and St. Peter's Hospital for doctor's visits or employment.
More than 1,300 South End residents signed a petition calling for bus service up Morton Avenue. The effort was organized by AVillage, Inc., a South End grass-roots organization. Residents have met with officials of the Capital District Transportation Authority and are increasing pressure in the hopes of finally getting a bus.
"We've been asking for a bus up Morton Avenue for 20 years and all we've gotten is lip service from CDTA," said Willie White, executive director of AVillage, Inc. and a 40-year resident of Morton Avenue. "This time, we're not going to give up. We'll keep fighting until we get that bus."
Bessie E. Thompson, 74, a diabetic who had surgeries on a gangrenous leg and foot, lives in a Morton Avenue apartment tower and uses a motorized wheelchair.
"It's really horrible trying to get up that hill," she said. She described having to take her chances riding in the street between moving vehicles and parked cars with her electric wheelchair because she can't make it up and down curbs and the sidewalk is heaved, broken and impassable in places.
In winter, the retired home health aide is a virtual prisoner of her apartment because plows push the snow into high banks and often the sidewalk has not been cleared.
"Many of us desperately need a bus on Morton Avenue," said Thompson, who regularly rides the bus. But without a Morton Avenue route, she's forced to try to cobble together a convoluted three-transfer patchwork of available buses that could take more than 90 minutes each way to traverse the 1.3 miles to Albany Med.
"We hear them loud and clear and we've been working with them," said CDTA spokeswoman Margo Janack. Any new bus route has to fit into a comprehensive restructuring that will take at least until spring after public meetings, analysis and number-crunching.
A bus route that covered a portion of Morton Avenue several years ago was tried briefly, but ridership was low and it was discontinued, Janack said.
"From the outside, it looks like Morton Avenue service might make sense," Janack said. "We've seen strong support for a bus route up Morton Avenue, but we want to make sure we put in a service that meets the community's needs and fits into the larger system."
"I've been to 11 presentations we've made to CDTA, they've always said no and it's gotten very frustrating," said Benna Eldridge, director of the family and neighborhood resource center of Trinity Alliance of the Capital Region, formerly Trinity Institution.
She hears a stream of hardship cases from South End folks who can't get up Morton Avenue and can't bear the thought of winter coming without a resolution. "We've done enough talking about this problem," she said. "We need a bus up the hill for these people."
South End residents praised CDTA for listening to their concerns and extending the No. 7 bus route a few years ago so it travels to and from South Pearl Street to the Glenmont Wal-Mart. Both sides agree that route has been successful, but when neighbors return laden with bags, the bus stops on South Pearl Street and they must face the hill on foot.
"Why couldn't the No. 7 bus or even the No. 8 just turn up Morton and go up the hill? It seems so simple," said Patricia Johnson, 54, of Green Street. A herniated disc and spine surgery left her needing the use of an electric scooter.
"We need that bus now. We can't wait another winter," she said.
"That hill is so steep, I go up a block and have to stop because I can't breathe," said Tammy Easter, 47, of Morton Avenue, who is asthmatic. She worked in medical billing and is currently unemployed. She has no car and can't afford cab fare for medical treatment. She traverses several blocks off Morton, like an urban mountain climber, adding several blocks to her long trek in search of flatter terrain.
"I wish I knew why they won't give us a bus up the hill," she said. "We're tired of being silent about the problem."
Ardra Wilson, 32, an unemployed construction worker, lives off North Pearl Street and often accompanies her 16-year-old son to doctor's visits up the hill. "I'm like a lot of people who can't find work and I don't have $15 for cab fare," she said. "I'm younger and can walk it if I have to, but watching the senior citizens struggling up the hill taking their grandkids to and from school is terrible."
Clara Phillips, 67, a diabetic who lives on Delaware Street, prefers to walk alongside Thompson, her wheelchair-bound friend, to run interference with traffic.
"I start up the hill, have to stop to rest and set down my bags every few minutes," said Phillips, a retired Albany Med dietary aide. "And then I'm trying to watch out for Miss Bessie in her wheelchair out in the road with cars whizzing by. I'm praying for that bus. I don't think the good Lord will let us down."
Read more: http://www.timesunion.com/default/article/South-End-residents-seek-a-lift-735643.php#ixzz1FumYUNfT
CDTA route would serve South End
Published 12:00 a.m., Wednesday, September 1, 2010
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The Aug. 26 story, "South End pleads for CDTA route" reported that South End residents implored the Capital District Transportation Authority to offer bus service up Morton Avenue to Albany Medical Center and other nearby medical facilities.
While the story related compelling anecdotes, it is important for the community to know that this request is backed by solid evidence that the route would be well used.
AVillage, Inc., joined by Westminster Presbyterian Church, Trinity Institution-Homer Perkins Center, Inc., and Grand Street Community Arts, presented the CDTA board not only with a petition signed by more than 1,200 people, but also with the results of a transportation questionnaire.
Our transportation consultant, Monique Wahba, a former Albany city planner, gave the CDTA staff a breakdown of the survey. It showed that: 1. There is a large demand for this bus route, not only from South End residents but also from residents of other neighborhoods and outlying communities. 2. The bus would be used for a variety of purposes, including jobs, medical appointments, shopping and transfers to other buses. 3. It would be used frequently, the majority of respondents indicating two to five times a week.
Further, the group presented 14 support letters from prominent individuals and organizations, including Albany Medical Center, Common Council members, the Albany Housing Authority, neighborhood associations, not-for-profits, businesses, and churches.
We are pleased to receive CDTA's commitment to work on this issue and expect meetings to begin shortly.
Read more: http://www.timesunion.com/opinion/article/CDTA-route-would-serve-South-End-639937.php#ixzz1FuprMUZH
What CDTA routes should be added, cut?August 26, 2010 at 2:16 pm by Tim O'Brien
South End residents came to the Capital District Transportation Authority Wednesday to plead for a bus up Morton Avenue.
You can read the story here.
Carm Basile, the leader of the CDTA, said the agency is in the midst of studying all its routes in Albany and could make changes.
Where would you like to see buses added? What bus routes do you think are underused and could be cut?