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School District Partnership Ensures Student Success

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Categories: Blog

By Andrew Brieschke, Deputy CEO

Ask any K-12 official about the secret to student success, and they’re sure to mention attendance at the top of the list. Throughout the ages, school attendance has relied on various modes of transportation, particularly walking, riding a bicycle, carpooling, driving or riding a school bus.

Two weeks prior to the start of the 2021–’22 academic year, Ben Shuldiner had only just started his career as Lansing School District’s superintendent. One of his first tasks was to address the global driver shortage — brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic — that would potentially leave students without bus transportation to and from school.Ben Shuldiner stands in front of the Lansing school district sign

Shuldiner, who hailed from New York City, wondered whether public transportation was the answer.

“The moment we realized that we were going to have a bus shortage, we reached out to our partners, and we are so lucky that we were able to partner with CATA,” said Shuldiner. “It’s how everyone gets around in New York City.”

Little did Shuldiner know at the time that community partnership and regional mobility solutions were among CATA’s strategic goals and, therefore, at the heart of the Authority’s decision-making. To that end, when Shuldiner approached CATA with a request for transportation assistance, CATA was eager to lend a hand.

The partnership included the provision of 200 first-and second-semester bus passes — paid for and distributed by the school district at no cost to students or their families.

Recognizing that riding a city bus might intimidate students who had never ridden before, CATA extended its CATAguides program at Michigan State University to include Lansing School District. Volunteer guides — all administrative employees from various departments at CATA — converged on campuses to provide resources, rules and general information to help students self-sufficiently and confidently navigate the system. CATA’s Customer Experience Representatives were also available by phone to assist with trip planning throughout the school year. For non-English-speaking riders, translations were provided in predominantly used languages, including Spanish, Arabic, Mandarin, Korean and, to accommodate a large population of Afghani refugees who would resettle in the area, Farsi.

Additionally, CATA and school district personnel worked together to notate and distribute frequently asked questions and a customized system map with routing details and school locations. These tools allowed both students and parents to easily navigate CATA’s service.

Deric and Eric smile in their graduation caps and gowns in front of Eastern high schoolFor Shuldiner, not only is the partnership between CATA and Lansing School District a much-needed solution for Lansing students, but it also promises greater things to come for student riders.

“It’s more than just getting to and from school. What about getting to a job? What about getting to a place to do an internship? Or just going to a park to enjoy the city?” Shuldiner asked.

Providing public transportation services to students and families allow them the freedom to explore everything Lansing has to offer. It encourages participation in athletic programming and after-school activities, and connects them to jobs, local venues and destinations that they might otherwise not have the opportunity to experience.

CATA looks forward to serving new generations of riders during the 2022– ’23 academic year and beyond, thanks to its ongoing partnership with the Lansing School District.

For details about high school service, visit cata.org/lansingschooldistrict. Volunteer to be an AmBUSsador to help guide Lansing School District students on riding the bus to and from school at cata.org/ambussador.

This content has been published in the 2022 Community Report.

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Making the ‘One-Seat Ride’ across counties a reality

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Categories: Blog

By Andrew Brieschke, Deputy CEO

Imagine a world where everywhere you need or want to get to is only one seat away. In the tri-county region, that world is about to become a reality.

In recent weeks, CATA has been working on preliminary coordination plans with both EATRAN and Clinton Area Transit System. The three agencies have collaborated to provide cross-boundary trips under interlocal agreements. All three systems are now preparing to better meet the needs of their respective riders.

The goal is to break down barriers that historically made cross-county public transportation time-consuming and inconvenient for riders.

Map of Ingham, Eaton and Clinton Counties"The concept of a ‘one-seat ride’ will dramatically improve service efficiencies for us and convenience for our riders," said CATA Chief Executive Officer Bradley T. Funkhouser.

At its core, regional mobility is defined as the provision of seamless transit options for residents, regardless of economic or geographic boundaries. By using a multitude of services and resources, riders have more access to desired destinations, shorter trips and wait times, and fewer transfers to connecting buses or service types. For many who rely on public transit, these options can cut trip times in half and provide cost savings.

But the benefits of a regional mobility plan for the tri-county area don’t end with public transportation. Now, CATA and its partners are a driving force for people to choose where they want to live, work and play.

A full regional mobility plan takes riders to workplaces, medical care and appointments, school, shopping, recreational and community activities. This means employers can fill open positions, family members can receive lifesaving health care and friends can visit one another.

Still, while progress toward regional mobility has been made in recent decades, much work remains. Extended routes, additional service options and expanded schedules require investment. Local and state officials recognize that Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties are actively working with CATA to fill funding gaps to bring regional mobility to fruition.

Current and future businesses and residential developments are cropping up across the tri-county area, including General Motors’ battery plant and industrial parks in Delta Township.

"I’m proud of what CATA has been able to do to expand services across our region so far, and I’ve seen firsthand just how devastating it can be to our riders to not have access to transportation to get to work or medical appointments. Regional mobility supports everyone — riders, employers, businesses and families. I look forward to seeing where we can take our community with the support of our leaders and partners," Funkhouser added.

This content has been published in the 2022 Community Report.

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A word from our CEO

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Categories: Blog

Dear Capital City Resident:

January 2022 marked the Capital Area Transportation Authority’s 50-year anniversary. We quietly celebrated our service to the region over the span of five decades. Needless to say, it has been an honor to deliver our much-needed transportation services to our community of riders.

Brad and other community leaders smile while going for a test ride on the Electric Nova busWe are grateful for our many partners — service agencies, contractors and colleagues. Without doubt, their trust in the Authority and its dedicated employees has contributed to our success story.

At the conclusion of 1972 — our first year in service — we recorded 732,609 trips on seven established routes, compared to 11.4 million trips at the end of fiscal 2019 and 33 routes. Additionally, our operating fleet has grown in number, today in excess of 200 buses and minivans.

Since March 2020, however, as our industry adapted to evolving safety protocols and mandates related to the pandemic, transit ridership declined — not only within the Capital City region, but globally. Still, our riders — especially those who rely on CATA to get to work and to access other essential services — remind us every day of the critical role we play in driving jobs, economy, community and, of course, you.

In this, our 50th year, our work is only now beginning.

CATA honors its past and looks forward to continuing to do what we’ve always done best: driving mobility solutions throughout Ingham County and, thanks to a shared vision with neighboring counties, in greater portions of Eaton and Clinton counties.

Our partnership with community leaders and organizations, along with updates in technology, will allow CATA to improve onboard safety and security, and fleet electrification to enhance rider experience.

We are pleased to present CATA’s 2022 Community Report in digital format. The stories inside the pages of this report reflect the Authority’s commitment to regional mobility, customer experience excellence, organizational strength, community partnership and a dynamic workplace.

As we begin our journey into the next 50 years, we remain committed to stewarding public trust and striving to provide exceptional public transportation services.

Sincerely,

Signature of Bradley Funhkouser

This content has been published in the 2022 Community Report.

 

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