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Amsterdam, facing deficit, shuts down public transit system

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AMSTERDAM, NY (WRGB) "You can't keep cutting services that people need."

Amsterdam resident Bill Engel says he takes advantage of the $2 bus ride that travels through the city, to grocery stores, and to Schenectady and Albany.

"People need it, we have elderly people, they need it, a lot of people can't afford cars," Engel said.

Notices are now posed in every bus in the city saying service will end on April 30th. Officials say the busses carry about 60 passengers per day - now those passengers will have to find alternative options.

"We have a significant deficit that needs to be addressed."

That deficit - $5 million, according to Mayor Michael Villa - left in place, he says, by previous administration.

"For a lack of a better term, there was no accountability."

Villa says the bus system cut was finalized last week, to prevent cutting from things like the city's public safety.

But some residents are left wondering - why cut the bus, and not the city's municipal golf course? Mayor Villa says the golf course was seeing more revenue than the transit system.

"I understand the need for transportation," Villa told CBS6 over the phone. "But our average ridership was 60 riders a day and 20 of them were going to Albany, you have an average of 40 people using a system that's costing us an excess of $200,000."

"Of course the facts were alarming," Amsterdam's Director of Transportation Fabrizia Rodriguez said Monday. She says there's been pushback from the community - and she was against the closure.

"What we're working on - at least myself, personally - is what options we can give people," Rodriguez said. "It looks like uber and taxi are going to be the number one choices for right now."

Rodriguez says unfortunately she doesn't see any transit system solution for the near future, but she hopes the city can make something work with either Greyhound or Browns Transportation.

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