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Our Transit Systems

Dutchess County Transit Hub, Poughkeepsie, New York

Bus and rail transit play an essential role in the county’s transportation system, providing people with alternatives to private or for-hire vehicles. Local buses particularly help those who do not own a vehicle and those who cannot drive, including young people, older adults, and disabled persons, as well as those who prefer not to drive. Regional transit, notably commuter rail, can offer more convenient access than a personal vehicle to major destinations such as the New York City metro area. And of course, transit benefits the environment, especially regional air quality, by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Though we benefit from a diverse range of transit services, access to these services is neither universal nor evenly distributed across the county. Our densely populated urban and suburban communities offer the best setting for financially sustainable transit service in the county, while our less populated, more rural areas make it more of a challenge. County Public Transit is actively looking into ways to provide service in these areas.

You can explore our transit system on the Map Viewer.

Dutchess County Public Transit

Dutchess County provides regularly scheduled bus service on major corridors, connecting higher population density areas to activity centers in the county. The system operates thirteen fixed routes, eleven of which function in a hub-and-spoke pattern with the Poughkeepsie Transit Hub (located on Market Street in the City of Poughkeepsie) at its center. The remaining two are the Beacon Free Loop and a route between Beacon, Fishkill, and Hopewell Junction. Most buses operate hourly, while Route L (Poughkeepsie Main Street) operates every half hour.

The county’s bus routes can be explored via a real-time bus locator You can learn more about access to bus transit in our Bus Access Analysis section.

Beyond fixed routes, Dutchess County operates two RailLink lines, which provide morning and evening service to the Poughkeepsie and New Hamburg train stations. These routes are designed to meet peak hour commuter trains operated by Metro-North Railroad. The county also provides three demand response services that are available to the public:

  • ADA Complementary Paratransit: A mandatory complementary paratransit service for individuals who live within ¾ mile of a regular route and have a disability that precludes them from riding the regular route.
  • Dial-a-Ride: A demand-responsive service open to the general public, operated under a contract between a municipality and the county. To register, passengers must be a resident of a contracted municipality and the trip must originate in one of those municipalities. In 2020, the service operates in six communities: City of Poughkeepsie and Towns of East Fishkill, Fishkill, Hyde Park, Poughkeepsie, and Wappinger. Other municipalities may contract with non-profit human services agencies to provide similar services.
  • Flex Service: A demand-response, curb-to-curb service open to the public in areas without regular bus service and outside the ¾ mile ADA-required areas. The service requires a reservation and is provided Monday-Friday during limited hours.

In 2019 the county bus system carried nearly 850,000 passengers, over 97 percent of whom traveled on the system’s fixed routes. The system has undergone two notable changes in the past five years: first in 2017, when the City of Poughkeepsie bus system ceased operations and the County expanded its service in the City; and then in 2018, when changes were made to routes and schedules in the Poughkeepsie area. These changes contributed to a 76 percent increase in ridership since 2015, and a 33 percent increase in passengers per mile driven. Early 2020 figures, before the COVID-19 pandemic, indicated continued growth in ridership.

The County operates its system out of its facility in the Town of LaGrange, employing 52 vehicles—39 buses and 13 cutaway vans for on-demand services. All buses have front-end bicycle racks, which carry three bicycles each.

More information on County Public Transit, including schedules and fares, can be found on their website.
 

Regional Bus Services

Several public and private operators provide inter-county or regional bus services in Dutchess County:

  • Ulster County Area Transit (UCAT) runs the Ulster-Poughkeepsie and Kingston-Poughkeepsie LINK buses, which provide weekday and weekend service between the Poughkeepsie Metro-North Station and Poughkeepsie Transit Hub and points across Ulster County.
  • Leprechaun Lines operates weekday commuter service between Poughkeepsie, Wappingers Falls, Fishkill, and White Plains in Westchester County. Leprechaun also manages a local service between Beacon, Newburgh, and Stewart Airport.
  • Coach USA/ShortLine provides five weekday trips between Rhinebeck, Poughkeepsie, and Fishkill in Dutchess County and New York City (via Newburgh and northern New Jersey), as well as daily service between Poughkeepsie and Monticello with connections to western New York.

In 2020, the Mid-Hudson Valley TMA (Dutchess, Orange, and Ulster Counties) completed a study of regional transit options that examined regional bus and rail services and offered recommendations for improvements. See Connect Mid-Hudson for more information.

Passenger Rail Service

Metro-North Railroad and Amtrak provide regional passenger and inter-state rail service in Dutchess County.

Metro-North Railroad

Metro-North Railroad provides commuter rail service between Dutchess County and the New York City metropolitan area. Metro-North operates eight train stations in Dutchess County: Poughkeepsie, New Hamburg, and Beacon on the Hudson Line; and Wassaic, Ten Mile River, Dover Plains, Harlem Valley/Wingdale, and Pawling on the Harlem Line. There are also seasonal stops at the Breakneck Ridge (Hudson Line) and Appalachian Trail (Harlem Line) trailheads. Each station has a dedicated parking lot, and six (Poughkeepsie, Beacon, New Hamburg, Pawling, Wingdale, and Ten Mile) have connecting bus service.

In 2018, Metro-North Railroad carried over 6,500 passengers from Dutchess County stations on an average weekday. From 2014-2018, average weekday ridership increased by nearly nine percent, all of which came from the Hudson Line, and particularly the Beacon and Poughkeepsie stations. The Harlem Line experienced a five percent drop during that time, mostly from the Pawling station. Longer term, weekday ridership in Dutchess has increased by 38 percent, or over 1,800 passengers a day, since 2000.

Weekend (combined Saturday and Sunday) Metro-North ridership from Dutchess County stations rose by nearly 20 percent from 2014-2018. Every station except Wingdale and Pawling saw an increase, with average ridership in Beacon rising by over 900 passengers and in Poughkeepsie by nearly 550. Longer term, weekend ridership in Dutchess has increased by 75 percent, or over 4,300 passengers a day, since 2000.

The Hudson Line consistently accounts for about 88 percent of Metro-North ridership in the county, with 43 percent of passengers using the Beacon station and 30 percent using Poughkeepsie.

On-time performance dipped in recent years as Metro-North implemented a variety of infrastructure improvements, before recovering somewhat in 2019. The graph to the right shows on-time performance for the last 15 years. The numbers are for the entire line, not just the stops in Dutchess County.

StationAverage Weekday Boardings (2018)Average Weekend (combined Sat & Sun) Boardings (2018)
Poughkeepsie1,9563,806
New Hamburg1,0551,074
Beacon2,8283,906

StationAverage Weekday Boardings (2018)Average Weekend (combined Sat & Sun) Boardings (2018)
Wassaic241772
Ten Mile3559
Dover Plains105203
Wingdale132132
Pawling241153

 

“On time,” per Metro-North Railroad, is within six minutes of scheduled arrival.

Amtrak

Dutchess County is served by five Amtrak lines that run between New York City and points north and west, including the Empire Service to Niagara Falls, the Adirondack to Montreal, the Ethan Allen Express to Rutland, VT, the Maple Leaf to Toronto, and the Lake Shore Limited to Chicago. In fiscal year 2019 these lines carried a combined 2.1 million passengers, with ridership and on-time performance varying between the routes.

All five lines stop at both the Poughkeepsie and Rhinecliff stations. In 2018 the Poughkeepsie station saw about 94,000 total Amtrak passengers (arrivals and departures combined) and the Rhinecliff station saw about 200,000. Both were a slight decrease from 2016 and 2017, but an increase from earlier in the decade. The Rhinecliff station is not served by bus transit and has limited parking capacity.

RoutePassengers CarriedOn-Time Performance*
Empire Service1,214,20090.1%
Maple Leaf389,80067.1%
Lakeside Limited357,70044.4%
Adirondack117,50069.1%
Ethan Allen50,50084.8%
*The number of minutes late a train can be before Amtrak considers
it not “on time” varies depending on trip length.

Passenger Ferry Service

The Newburgh-Beacon Ferry, operated by Metro-North Railroad through a contract with NY Waterway, provides passenger service between the Newburgh waterfront and the Beacon train station during weekday peak periods. In 2018 annual ridership totaled over 56,700 passengers—about 200 per workday.

Human Service Agency & Non-Profit Transportation Services

Several human service agencies in Dutchess County provide their own transportation to supplement existing transit services. Most rely on advance reservations and serve limited trip purposes and areas using buses, vans, minivans, and cars driven by paid and volunteer drivers. Trip purposes include medical appointments, shopping excursions, and recreational activities.

Human service agency transportation is an alternative to Dutchess County’s dial-a-ride and paratransit services. Some are associated with a program or organization, while in other cases a municipality may contract with a non-profit to provide these services instead of public transit. The strength of human service agency transportation is the higher degree of operational flexibility, which allows them to better respond to individual needs on a case-by-case basis.

However, funding remains a challenge for many of these agencies, both from a capital perspective (i.e. replacing vehicles) and operationally (i.e. paying drivers or finding volunteers). To help these agencies, we developed a Coordinated Public Transit-Human Services Plan that identifies and prioritizes the mobility needs of the elderly and differently abled in the county, while finding ways to allow agencies to provide the most efficient services they can.

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What We Heard

"For many years I was the director of a program for young adults with learning differences, many of whom were not ready to drive, but were otherwise very independent. They were very disappointed that the limited transportation impacted their ability to go out on their own."

- Moving Dutchess Forward survey

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