Getting Around Ulster County for $1.25


Recently, we took to the interweb to figure out how we could get from Newburgh to New Paltz on a car-free budget. The Trailways would take us there, a couple of times a day. But then there was something called the UCAT: Ulster County Area Transit. And guess what it cost? That’s right: a buck twenty-five. There are similar transportation options in Dutchess County, too (the LOOP will take you from the Poughkeepsie Metro-North up to Bard College and back, for instance), and clearly the UCAT makes it into Orange County, too. We give this experience a full thumbs up. It also opens up the possibilities for car-free country houses. If you can find a place along the LOOP or UCAT routes, you can make it work on public transit.

Category: Top Stories, Transportation, upstate new york

By: lisa | 15 October 2013 02:00 PM | 9 Comments

9 Responses

  1. Andrew Porter says:

    According to the website, the basic fare is $1, with 25 cent additions for each zone you ride in. But it’s still extraordinarily inexpensive. Looks like it’s funded by Federal grants.

  2. kandyharris says:

    We call UCAT “Ghost Bus” because every time we see one, it’s empty! Not sure why!

  3. hilary says:

    Years of conditioning have resulted in a rural population that believes public transportation is for undesirables that can’t afford or aren’t allowed to drive. Riding the UCAT is like a sign of financial/psychological/social failure. That, coupled with the fact that it isn’t extremely reliable in getting you where you need to be in a timely manner, makes it a challenge to actually benefit from it. Give yourself plenty of lead time if you are trying to catch up with a NYC-bound bus, or if being late to work is a serious infraction.

  4. hilary says:

    Also good to know — the buses can accommodate bicycles, and in the winter the Z-route goes right to Belleayre Ski Center.

  5. kandyharris says:

    The stops are relatively limited, too, and many of the stops are located at the same spots the Trailways bus stops. The schedule is also a bit confusing, and, as Hilary said, they’re unreliable, which can be a real problem if you miss your train and have to wait another hour (or more) for the next one. We investigated further for our Car-Free Country House post today, and we couldn’t figure out where the UCAT stops in Port Ewen, even though the Ulster to Pok link clearly lists Port Ewen as a stop.

    With that said, it’s cheap public transportation. You get what you pay for. And, if you really want to live upstate without a car, this is what you have to consider before doing so. We suggest trying out the UCAT a couple of times on a couple of different routes when you don’t have to be somewhere at a certain time, just to see how it all works.

  6. hilary says:

    The UCAT has some “known” stops, but it is a “Flag the Bus” kind of thing — it will stop and drop anywhere along its routes. And they recently installed “bus stop” signs with route information in most of the key stops. Gettin’ better!

  7. lisa says:

    Ah, for the record: the bus was totally punctual, and, yeah, the people on the bus were taking the bus because they didn’t have enough money for cars, but they were lovely people, all on a first name basis with the driver. They have a few set stops, and then, yes, you flag the bus anywhere along the route; it’ll also drop you anywhere along that route. I was confused about exactly where to stop, so I called UCAT and they told the driver to look for me. A 100% positive experience, and I paid less in bus fare than I would have in gas to get there. I got way, way, way more than I paid for! And I actually went from Orange to Ulster County!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Please post helpful phone numbers

  9. When I lived in Highland, I rode UCAT from Highland/New Paltz to Poughkeepsie several days a week, most times, with my bike. When I was on time for the bus, I made my other connections with no problems. I liked the get on/get off where you want rule and that I could pay with dollar bills.

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