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Caroling on the CATA bus

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Categories: Blog, Community

Rose Cooper took her act on the road in a new way this holiday season.

Cooper, who’s best known around greater Lansing as the singing motorcyclist, stores her beloved Harley-Davidson when winter arrives. But she didn’t let that stop her from singing her heart out on the city’s streets recently.

She hopped on a CATA bus to do some caroling.

It started out, as many things do, with a Facebook post: “At some point Friday afternoon, Kevin and I will be taking the #1 CATA bus from downtown to Meridian Mall and back; with the bus driver's permission, singing Christmas/holiday songs along the entire route. Wish us luck!”

Little boy shakes hand of bus driverWhen CATA got wind of Cooper’s plan, they looped in the driver and sent cameras to capture the trip.

“When we got on the bus, before I could even ask the driver if it was OK if we sang, he said ‘I’ve already heard about you.’ I was amazed,” Cooper said.

Cooper and her grandson Kevin, a first grader at Lansing’s Cumberland Elementary School, took the ride to bring cheer to Black Friday shoppers and give Kevin a bit of practice for his school’s upcoming choir concert.

“He’s a shy, sensitive kid, so he didn’t want to sing too much at first,” Cooper said. “But once I started, I could hear him going along.”

They boarded bus No. 1 at the CATA Transportation Center downtown and rode it all the way to the Meridian Mall, singing everything from “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” to “Jingle Bells” to “The Dreidel Song.”

“We decided we’d start a new song every time somebody got on,” she said. “It was like we were singing just for them.”

A few people sang along. One man even pulled a red nose out of his coat pocket and put it on as they sang “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

Cooper said singing for the CATA passengers and staff was important to her.Little boy sitting in the driver seat of the bus

“When I ride my bike, the CATA people are the coolest people to ride with,” she said. “There’s no competition. They’re not trying to beat me to the light like some cars do. They’re not coming over into my lane. I love riding next to CATA buses, so this was my way of giving back to CATA.”

Despite Kevin’s shy nature, he was excited to climb into the driver’s seat once the bus reached the mall. Cooper said he secretly loves the buses.

“When I’m driving him in my car, he’ll see a CATA bus and ask me to stop so he can get on it,” she said.

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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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7 Things to Do in Lansing this Winter

Monday, December 2, 2019

Categories: Blog, Community

Lansing Capitol building with snow

One of the best ways to fight the winter blues? Explore local activities with family and friends! Here are some of our favorite ways to enjoy Greater Lansing in the colder months:

  1. Ice skating at Munn Arena

This is the perfect activity for a variety of ages and occasions. Skating at Munn makes for a great family outing or date. On the way to Munn, you’ll get to see the winter beauty of Michigan State’s campus. It’s also the place to check out a Michigan State hockey game!

For information on public skate times and Spartan hockey, visit munnicearena.com.

  1. Michigan History Center

Need a break from the winter weather? Head indoors to enjoy the history and culture of our great state. Explore five levels of exhibits, which include everything from art to cars to the origins of Michigan.

Click here for details.

  1. Winter Glow

This free winter festival is an annual East Lansing event. This year’s Winter Glow will take place downtown on Saturday, Dec. 7. It includes an outdoor holiday market, ice carvings, complimentary photos with Santa, marshmallow roasting and more. Local businesses will be hosting specials, crafts and snacks. This is a great way to get out and about during the cold month of December, and get in the holiday spirit.

For more information, visit https://cityofeastlansing.com/winterglow.

Kids on tubes at the bottom of the snow hill

  1. Snow tubing at Hawk Island

As Hawk Island is less than a mile from CATA headquarters, this is one of our favorite wintertime activities. Bring your family, grab a few friends or go it alone on one of Hawk Island’s tube runs, ranging from 500-600 feet long. Then warm up at the snack bar with a cup of hot chocolate and s’mores.

Click here for snow tubing hours and pricing.

  1. Capitol Christmas tree and ornaments

People come from all over the state to see the 61-foot tree displayed in front of the Michigan Capitol building. It’s become a clear icon to the city, standing tall and proud.

The red holiday ornaments are another crowd favorite. These giant picturesque sculptures are in the roundabout at Michigan Avenue and Washington Square, within walking distance from the Capitol. The ornaments -- affectionately called the Orbs of Winter by many locals -- were restored last month thanks to a private donation.

Save on parking and take the bus to these gorgeous decorations! Check out our trip planner to find the best route for you.

  1. Impression 5 Science Center

Impression 5 is an awesome place for kids of all ages to explore, learn and have fun! It was one of the first hands-on science museums in the country when it opened in 1972. Forty-seven years later, it remains a spot for the entire family to enjoy.

For hours and pricing, please visit impression5.org.

  1. Wonderland of Lights at Potter Park Zoo

Holiday lights, animal encounters, hot cocoa and visits from Santa make this event a Lansing staple. This is the 25th Annual Wonderland of Lights, so you know it’s going to be big! Catch this event Thursday through Sunday until Dec. 30.

Click here for the full schedule.

Brick Wall that says Love Lansing

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