By JOHN PURCELL

Recorder News Staff

Parking on opening day at the Saratoga Race Course can be completely avoided this year as the Amsterdam Transportation Department re-implements a bus run to and from the track.

The bus run kicks off on Friday, July 21,  and will be offered Thursdays, Fridays and Saturday until Saturday Sept. 2. A one-way fare is $3.50 or a round trip is $7, and riders must have exact change to provide the bus driver.

City Transportation Department Director Fabrizia Rodriguez said the service was offered years ago and she looked into re-implementing the Saratoga run after 5th Ward Alderman James Martuscello and 3rd Ward Alderman Chad Majewski suggested it.

“We seem to have a lot people here in the city who bet and people who like to go to the races,” Rodriguez said. “I’m expecting and hoping for good numbers.”

Martuscello said he has heard a lot of people are planning use the Saratoga line, which he hopes will provide a new source of revenue for the Transportation Department.

“A group of guys that I know of from the South Side are already planning days they’re going to go up on it,” Martuscello said. “From what I hear on the street, people are excited about using the service, and it’s going to be much needed extra revenue for the transportation department.”

Martuscello said along with offering a low-cost transportation option for residents, the service ensures riders won’t drive if they’re consuming alcohol at the racetrack.

The same three stops will be available for departure and return runs, including the Church Street/Route 67, Amsterdam Housing Authority and the parking lot off Bridge Street for the Erie Canalway Trail. The first stop leaving for the racetrack is at 10:45 a.m. at the Church Street location, and a bus will make the return trip at 6:35 p.m..

“We added three stops on purpose to make sure we are accommodating everybody,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said the 6:35 p.m. return could be slightly later to account for any delay or hold ups during the race day, because the bus will not depart until the last race has concluded.

The Schenectady route will be adjusted during track season from two runs in the morning and afternoon to only one run respectively, according to Rodriguez. A complete list of changes to the Schenectady route is posted to the Transportation Department’s page on the city’s website, along with information about the Saratoga run.

While not required, Rodriguez is requesting larger groups who plan to use the Saratoga bus to contact the department ahead of time to ensure adequate seating is provided.She said if there is a large group, the 32-seat bus would be used instead of the 18-seat bus. The buses are wheelchair accessible.

For more information, contact the department at 518-843-2831.