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New CATA Bus Shelters Installed and Beautified through Community Partnerships

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Categories: Blog, Community

 

There are some things that just go together – like peanut butter and jelly, macaroni and cheese or Jack and Diane.

But it’s not often people put together bus shelters and culture. 

A recent CATA initiative used this combination to steer community ownership, champion diversity and foster neighborhood pride. Six new bus shelters were installed at high-traffic stops to address community needs. We’re profiling two of these shelters that showcase the culture and diversity of area neighborhoods.

Both of these shelters were made possible through community partnerships and funding. CATA contributed funding toward each project, while the Sycamore Park Neighborhood Association and South Side Community Coalition each received a $3,000 Neighborhood Grant from the City of Lansing.Photo of blue bus shelter located on Pennsylvania Ave

Partnering with the Sycamore Park Neighborhood Association

The SPNA approached CATA to drive safety and inclusion in the area. Their local bus stop was moved just north of Baker Street to improve accessibility and safety. We provided the community options for a new shelter, and they voted on artwork submissions. Shelter designs and artwork were voted on by the public, who chose the shelter that currently stands.

Shelter artwork was provided by local artist Nate Gonzalez, and a solar light was installed at the location in January. The shelter highlights the adventurous, creative and resourceful dimensions of Sycamore Park. 
Working Together with the Southside Community Coalition
The SSCC worked with CATA to give the community’s existing bus shelter a makeover. This shelter on Holmes and Pleasant Grove Road was retrofit with electricity and LED lighting. Its glass paneling was switched from tinted to clear, in order to promote transparency and safety.CATA CEO Brad Funkhouser, Mayor Andy Schor, and others at the vibrant bus shelterThe most defining feature is the bus shelter’s pseudo-stained glass mural, with depictions of faces in the community. Another panel depicts the newly added Beacon Soccer Field, the community coalition and kids playing in the nearby park.

The vibrant color palette reminds us how the area radiates diversity, inclusion and play. 

The Community Ownership Movement
These projects were the spark of a community ownership movement. By partnering with local neighborhoods, CATA was better able to address community needs, concerns and vision. One new shelter was installed and an old shelter was beautified to become points of pride in their neighborhoods. Local communities were involved to make this movement an inclusive one.
 
Because each shelter is unique to its respective neighborhood, local desires to use and maintain them are strong.
 
"These shelters end up being the best cared for shelters," said CATA CEO Brad Funkhouser in a recent interview. "They become a central point of identity, a sense of place for each of the neighborhoods.”
Additional Bus Shelter Projects

CATA is striving to convert more bus shelters into beacons of local culture and pride. Four additional shelters were installed in the area, including new shelters on Michigan State University’s campus and one on Michigan Avenue near the Capitol building.

Three of these four shelters have enhanced amenities, including: real-time bus tracking displays, lighting, USB ports and Wi-Fi. The shelter on Michigan Avenue is even 100% solar-powered.

Who knew bus shelters could bring more culture to a community? We’d call this a winning combination.

Both of the new community inspired bus shelters are a great example of what can happen when the City of Lansing,...

Posted by Andy Schor on Friday, December 13, 2019

To explore more ways CATA drives art and culture, check out this video testimonial from Below the Stacks.

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Holiday Missions and Traditions

Monday, December 23, 2019

Categories: Blog, Community

Photo of lots of presents under the tree

  • Bicycles for the family
  • A skateboard
  • Dress-up clothes
  • A winter jacketWoman in all black holding up a small minnie mouse costume

No matter the wish, CATA works hard every year to make it happen through the Operation Santa program. Over the years, the program has allowed CATA to team up with a local elementary school and provide Christmas gifts to hundreds of families in need.

“I love being able to give back to our community in such a special way,” says Pam Latka, CATA Marketing Manager. “I also love what it does for our employees. It gives everyone a chance to meet people within the organization, and involve their families in their community. It’s a good thing for us to do.”

Pam facilitates the Operation Santa program within CATA in creative ways, including a  year-long can drive that raises hundreds of dollars. Every November, she distributes over 100 gift wish tags to three Christmas trees within CATA facilities. Employees take as many tags as they are able, and purchase gifts for local families.

Presents are sorted and delivered to the elementary school, along with Scotch tape, bows and wrapping paper.  “We give them to the parents so they can wrap the gifts and give them to their children on Christmas,” says Pam.

Photo of bicycles in front of a treeOperation Santa has a special way of unifying employees toward a greater goal. A team of three maintenance workers adopted an entire tree full of wishes. Matt Oudsema, CATA’s Director of Planning and Development, has made it a family tradition to deliver the gifts with his wife and daughter. 

CATA has taken part in Operation Santa for the last 18 years, adopting 37 children in 2019, and 892 since the launch of the program in 2002. Employees have gifted everything from homemade teddy bears and crocheted blankets to bikes, remote control cars and train sets. 

“We often receive thank you notes from some of the kids or their family members,” Pam says. “Sometimes they will be addressed to Santa, so it’s fun to think that we are keeping these kids' Christmas dreams alive.”

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Craig Frazier: What If?

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Categories: Blog, Community, Employees

What if?

That’s the question buzzing from our paratransit department lately. 

“What if the holiday spirit extended all year?” asked Paratransit Supervisor Craig Frazier in a department email. “If all the rules, boundaries and constraints were gone, what could we do to make our service better?”

Paratransit supervisor Craig Frazier at his desk

Some of CATA’s paratransit riders rely on our Spec-Tran service to take them to the Greater Lansing Food Bank. Each month, the food bank chooses a Saturday and a new location to launch a pop-up event.

“This often creates issues with our Saturday Spec-Tran service,” Craig said, “as the clients can’t always give us an exact return time.” He said for some clients, the food bank may provide a majority of their monthly groceries.

Thus, the paratransit department asked the key question: What if? 

What if we provided a special food bank shuttle for all participating Spec-Tran clients?

They answered this question last month, when they launched a six-hour bus run to the South Church of the Nazarene, November’s mobile food bank location. On a chilly, 20 degree day, volunteers of all ages set up food while our Spec-Tran picked up clients.

Greater Lansing Food Bank outdoor setup and volunteers

 

The Spec-Tran then drove these same clients home as they finished up at the food bank. They shuttled passengers in waves that accommodated their needs.

“This is just one example of what can be done to make a great service even better,” said Craig. The department is continuing to generate new ideas to enhance services.

What if all the rules and constraints were gone -- what could you do to help those around you?

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