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. 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 2022 the county bus system carried over 680,000 passengers, over 97 percent of whom traveled on the system’s fixed routes. The system underwent two notable changes in the recent past: 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 from 2015 to 2019, and a 33 percent increase in passengers per mile driven. While ridership decreased sharply during the pandemic, it has improved steadily since 2020.
The county system operates out of its facility in the Town of LaGrange, employing 55 vehicles—40 buses and 15 small 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.
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.
511NY: TRAFFIC, TRAVEL, & TRANSIT INFORMATION
511NY is a statewide, one-stop resource for transportation information including road closures, incidents and construction; transit information and trip planning tools; ridesharing and other commute options; and more. You can access information via the website or by calling 511. You can also register to receive personalized travel alerts or find potential carpool or vanpool members. Registered rideshare members also have access to a Guaranteed Ride program.
Passenger Rail Service
Metro-North Railroad and Amtrak provide regional passenger and inter-state rail service in Dutchess County.
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 2022, Metro-North Railroad carried over 3,800 passengers from Dutchess County stations on an average weekday - almost 42 percent less than 2019. Prior to the pandemic, average weekday ridership had held steady at about 6,500 passengers a day. The Hudson and Harlem Lines both saw ridership declines during the pandemic, with the Beacon Station leading the decrease at 1,150 fewer passengers in 2022 than in 2019. The pandemic's affect on commuter rail travel in the county has been profound, to the point that current ridership is the lowest seen since 2000.
Weekend (combined Saturday and Sunday) Metro-North ridership from Dutchess County stations also saw substantial declines during the pandemic, dropping by nearly half from 2019 to 2022. Both the Beacon and Poughkeepsie stations saw the most decrease, with average weekend ridership in Poughkeepsie lower by 1,860 passengers and Beacon by 1,730. Like weekday travel, weekend ridership in Dutchess has decreased to levels not seen since the early 2000's.
Despite the overall decline in ridership, the Hudson Line still accounts for about 90 percent of Metro-North ridership in the county, with 45 percent of passengers using the Beacon station and 33 percent using Poughkeepsie.
On-time performance dipped in recent years as Metro-North implemented a variety of infrastructure improvements, before recovering in 2019. During the pandemic, on time performance West of the Hudson was in the 96-98 percent range. 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.
|Station||Average Weekday Boardings (2022)||Average Weekend (combined Sat & Sun) Boardings (2022)|
|Station||Average Weekday Boardings (2022)||Average Weekend (combined Sat & Sun) Boardings (2022)|
“On time,” per Metro-North Railroad, is within six minutes of scheduled arrival.
Dutchess County is served by four Amtrak lines that run between New York City and points north and west, including the Empire Service to Niagara Falls, the Ethan Allen Express to Rutland, VT, the Maple Leaf to Toronto, and the Lake Shore Limited to Chicago. In fiscal year 2021 these lines carried a combined 1,067,000 passengers, with ridership and on-time performance varying between the routes.
All four lines stop at both the Poughkeepsie and Rhinecliff stations. In 2021 the Poughkeepsie station saw about 66,650 total Amtrak passengers (arrivals and departures combined) and the Rhinecliff station saw almost 105,000. As with commuter rail, Amtrak ridership declined by almost 42 percent from pre-pandemic levels. The Rhinecliff station is not served by bus transit and has limited parking capacity.
|Route||Passengers Carried||On-Time Performance*|
|Empire/Maple Leaf Service||859,452||84%|
|Lake Shore Limited||196,234||56%|
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 2022 annual ridership totaled almost 23,600 passengers or about 95 per workday - a 58 percent decline from pre-pandemic levels.
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, 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.
THE HUDSON RIVER
The Hudson River is our region’s original transportation “infrastructure.” For centuries it was the primary means of regional travel and our economic lifeblood. Today, the Newburgh-Beacon Ferry provides Dutchess’s only passenger transportation on the river. Ships regularly pass by with freight bound for New York City or Albany, but the only active ports in the county are private. For more on the Hudson River’s role, see our sections on Freight and Economic Barriers.
"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