Sunday, September 22, 2019

Evaulating Opportunities in Public Transporation

A few months ago the Centre Regional Planning Commission (CRPC) approved a Work Order that will provide $96,000 in Federal Funding for the Centre Area Transportation Authority (CATA) to conduct an analysis of route fares, bus pass contracts, and policies.

Currently, only 10% of CATABus riders pay a cash fare to ride. The other riders are using loop and link service which is free to ride between campus and downtown and the various bus pass programs offered by CATA. Through this upcoming study, a consultant will evaluate the pricing structure of the ride fares and programs to determine if the fees are set correctly in a way that encourages utilization of those programs without discouraging ridership. In addition, the consultant will be able to determine if opportunities exist for CATA to expand it program offerings and attract new stakeholders.

One of the largest stakeholder groups at CATA is the various apartment complexes which offer bus passes to their residents. Through this analysis, CATA maybe able to identify additional apartment complexes which might benefit from participating in a bus pass program. Another stakeholder group this study maybe able to identify are employers within the Centre Region and the valuable opportunities that may exist in public transportation between those entities and CATA.

Another area the study would take a look at is the ways in which riders can pay and board the bus. Today riders can pay with cash, purchase tokens at various locations, use a swipe card pass, or show their day pass on a mobile app. However, as technology has continued to evolve this study maybe able to identify several new ways in which CATA riders can pay and ride the bus. In the near future could riders be able to use their smartwatches to board a bus for instance? Will we see riders opting to use QR barcodes instead of swipe cards to ride? There are several ways people pay and access goods and services today, public transportation should be able to provide various options as well.

After comparing and contrasting CATA with various other transit systems within the industry, the consultant will be able to provide valuable recommendations in which CATA can consider and implement to enhance public transportation within the region, while maintaining a competitive advantage.

While I was pleased to support a rather valuable project, I look forward to seeing Ferguson Township partner with CATA further on this project. Pending the results of the study, there maybe some ways in which the Township can help CATA improve upon it's service.

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