The TCAT bus system will look a bit different this fall, as officials have elected to split the service period in preparation of the arrival of nine new buses.
The first phase will start this Sunday (August 25) – Saturday, October 26, followed by the second phase from Sunday, October 27 – Saturday, January 18.
Traditionally, both fall and winter/spring service periods during the academic year are each designed for 4- ½ months.
County leaders say this split will allow them to improve the TCAT service sooner rather than later, as they were initially considering waiting until January to make the change.
The goal is to best incorporate the impending arrival of nine brand new 40-foot buses that will begin replacing the county’s aging and increasingly unreliable fleet.
TCAT says the buses will cost a total of $4 million and that they will take possession of them next month.
The maintenance crew will then spend several weeks installing GPS and fare box equipment before each bus is examined and passed by NYSDOT inspectors.
“A second fall service period will allow us to adjust the schedules and add more capacity if we see problems developing in early fall,’’ said Assistant General Manager Matt Yarrow, who oversees TCAT’s transit development and planning.
In addition to these changes, TCAT will also start a simplified and more equitable fare structure that makes riding the bus more affordable for those who board outside the Greater Ithaca area. That begins on August 25.
TCAT also said the changes will better suit Ithaca College students, who will now have three Route 11 routes to include day (11), night (11N) and a weekend shopper (11S) service. The shopper service has long been requested by the IC community and will give students direct trips to popular southwest shopping outlets, including Wegmans and Walmart.
“TCAT’s engagement with the Ithaca College community in 2018 provided clear support of the idea of a South Hill-Downtown-Southwest shopping route,” Yarrow said. “This route will provide that service as well as complement the busy route 15 (existing southwest shopper) on weekends.”
For route updates and to plan trips, passengers should refer to online schedules and maps, as well as the entire Fall 2019 TCAT Schedules & Service Guide, which will soon be available at www.tcatbus.com. Printed ride guides will also be available at TCAT bus shelters, including Green St. Station, Seneca St. Station.
Those who wish to have printed ride guides or individual schedules and maps mailed to them can call (607) 277-RIDE (7433) or email TCAT at firstname.lastname@example.org, or stop by the front desk at TCAT, 737 Willow Ave., between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Mon.-Fri.
TCAT will update schedules online and in print in advance of the second part of the fall period starting Sun., Oct. 27. TCAT urges riders to take advantage of TCAT’s Bus Tracker and to download its trip-planning and real-time apps.