FM drops Amsterdam bus service

JOHNSTOWN – Fulton-Montgomery Community College and the Amsterdam Transit System failed to reach an agreement on the cost of student transportation, prompting the college to look for another bus service, college President Dustin Swanger said.

The transit system no longer will provide bus service to the college after May 27, but and FMCC says it will have a replacement ready by May 28.

“Amsterdam has never asked for money,” Swanger said. “However, a few weeks ago, we met with representatives from Amsterdam and I knew they were here to ask for money, and I get it, but I also wanted to talk about services. What I had been hearing from students was there was inadequate service from Amsterdam, so I hoped if we had this conversation, we could talk about service as well.”

However, he said, the Amsterdam Transit System representatives said they were losing money and the college could either contribute $72,000 or the services would end this month.

Swanger said he chose to end the arrangement with the transit system.

The service transports about 100 students daily, Swanger said.

Neither city Transit Director Cheryl Scott nor Mayor Ann Thane was available for comment for this story.

Amsterdam 3rd Ward Alderman Ronald Barone said that for the last six years, the transit system has had an annual deficit of about $250,000, and the council told transit officials to ask the vendors to contribute to the cost.

“We had asked them to go back to renegotiate to see if we could do better,” Barone said this morning. “They are going to go back and approach Dusty again or we are going to have to go in a different direction. That comes out of the general fund, so it’s quite expensive and you can’t afford to keep going like that because we aren’t bringing in the revenue to take it out.”

Swanger said the college is working on a contract with another local bus service for the summer session. He said he can’t release the name of that service until the contract has been finalized.

The new service would provide the same stops and could be cheaper for the students, Swanger said.

According to the Amsterdam Transit System website, the service makes stops at the Riverfront Center, FMCC and various Stewart’s, including ones on East Main Street, Market Street, Guy Park Avenue and in Fort Johnson. The cost for a ride to the college is $2.

The Gloversville Transit system also makes several runs for FMCC students. The college has subsidized that service for about $50,000 a year, Swanger said.

“[Gloversville Transit] has been a good partnership,” Swanger said.

Swanger said the college in the future may seek bids for transit services from Amsterdam. This would allow the college to find an affordable long-term solution, he said.

“Public transportation is of utmost importance to our students,” Swanger said. “Bus transportation benefits not only those who choose to ride, but also those who may have no other choice. We need to have service in place for our Greater Amsterdam students.”