OPINION: The CDTA Bus Is A Great Way To Get Around Town: Here’s Why
If you ever find yourself wanting to explore Saratoga and beyond, but don’t have access to a car, the CDTA bus system is for you.
Not having a personal vehicle can make traveling around Saratoga troublesome, and while the fastest way to get from point A to point B may not technically be the bus, CDTA manages to provide a practical and accessible way for students to get off campus.
The 452 CDTA bus, which runs downtown, to Wilton, and back to Case Center, is free for all Skidmore students. However, it can sometimes appear to be time consuming and confusing. Taxi services such as Uber, Lyft and Saratoga Taxi are easy and quick, but from personal experience, are unreliable and expensive at certain hours, especially for a college student who needs to travel on a regular basis.
For many students, the bus can also be unreliable. I know I have had the experience of standing at the bus stop, checking the time on my phone and wondering where the bus is. But how late is the bus actually? How often does this scenario happen?
After going out into “the field” to do some research of my own, I realized that the bus isn’t really that off-schedule after all. Even though it was a Saturday afternoon, and the bus was full of people getting off and on, it arrived to my stop on time. Another part of my observations included sitting outside Case on a Friday afternoon, watching the bus come and go, where I determined that the bus generally reached its destination on-time, and occasionally was a few minutes early.
For students who’ve grown up in places without a public transportation system, or who’ve never experienced a public bus, it’s no surprise the CDTA system may appear confusing at first. The concept of pulling a cord to request a stop can be very intimidating if you don’t know where you are going, especially if you are a first-year student. However, from my experience last weekend, I observed that the CDTA has plenty of drivers who are willing to help lost students, and they seemed friendly enough to know the names of all their regular passengers.
The customer service on the CDTA busses might make up for any delay in getting you to your destination. While I was out, I witnessed the bus driver remind a confused student where to get off to go to CVS. On the same trip, the driver also returned earbuds to a kid who’d lost them earlier and addressed several of her regular passengers by first name. She proceeded to ask them about their day, and remembered where some of the older passengers needed to get off the bus without them having to pull the cord.
Since Skidmore students have access to free bus fare with their student ID’s, why not use it? You might not get dropped off at the front door of your destination, or you might have to allocate additional time in your schedule since the busses only loop back to Skidmore every 30 minutes, but it’s worth it. What’s your other option? Ride-sharing services like Uber that charge you around $7.60 just to get to downtown Saratoga, and around $10 to reach the mall or Target?
In addition, you’d also still have to wait for your driver to arrive on campus to pick you up. According to Google Maps and Map Quest, the fastest route from Case to the Wilton Mall is 3.3 miles, approximately 10-11 minutes without traffic, and assuming it takes about an average of 5-7 minutes for a driver to get to campus, that puts your trip to Wilton Mall by ride-share at 15-17 min on a good day. Comparatively, on weekdays, the bus takes between 24 and 30 minutes to get to Wilton Mall, but are those few additional minutes worth the $10 it would cost to take an Uber to the mall?
In terms of cost, driver-friendliness and accessibility, I’d say the CDTA system can’t be beat.