New CAT Buses Will Enhance Customers’ Transit Experience
Tuesday, May 29th, 2018
The Chatham Area Transit Authority today unveiled the first of 18 new 35-ft buses being added into its fleet during a brief program showcasing the new vehicles. For comparison, transit officials displayed one of its oldest buses in the fleet with an odometer reading of nearly 706,000 miles.
The sleek new buses, featuring wider aisles, seating for more than 30 people and standing room for up to 30 more, were assembled by one of the transit industry’s premier bus manufacturers, Gillig, LLC located in Livermore, CA.
As of Friday, 11 of the 18 new buses were on site. Special software and other prep work must be completed next week before the buses will be placed into service next month.
“We are ecstatic the new buses are here,” Board Chair Howard French said. “This is just the beginning of the significant changes customers will experience within the next several months. The Board, staff and I are committed to continuous improvement and providing a great transit experience to our customers.”
Funding for the new vehicles is the result of a successful grant application to the State of Georgia’s GO! Transit program, administered by the State Road and Tollway Authority. Approximately 80 percent of the $10.7 million purchase was SRTA funding and the remaining 20 percent was from the Chatham County Special Local Option Sales Tax.
“Our team at SRTA are extremely pleased CAT has been able to make this significant capital investment with the funds from Georgia’s GO! Transit program to improve the area’s network of public transit services,” SRTA’s Program Administrator David Cassell said. “We also are delighted to be a part of the unveiling.”
In addition to representatives from SRTA, City of Savannah, Chatham County, and other community leaders, today’s “Out with the Old/In with the New” buses celebration featured comments from two of CAT’s frequent riders. Cameron Morrison, who has been riding the service for about two years now made the following comments today during the event.
“I have been riding the bus mainly on the weekends to the mall or the movies because it’s easy and it makes my mom feel better about my safety. She knows the schedule because we have the app so she knows what time I will get to the mall or the movies, and what time I will come home,” Morrison said. “I plan to ride more this summer because I will be working at the mall. Teenagers like me want the freedom to ride transit throughout the community and it is great that we can now take these trips on new buses,” Morrison added.
CAT frequent rider Lester Tisby has been riding CAT buses for nearly 30 years. “I began riding in 1989 and I know the drivers and managers well and have seen lots of changes. It is a good thing that we are finally getting new buses that will make the customer experience better and the service more reliable for people like me,” Tisby said. “I know the drivers are going to enjoy driving these new buses.”
The transit authority’s CEO Curtis Koleber and other CAT Board members also participated in today’s bus celebration and thanked the many supporters who have advocated for such improvements.
“This is a great day for our transit agency and the community. We are taking extremely old equipment, past the industry’s standard of useful life, out of the fleet and replacing these nearly antique buses with new state-of-the-art vehicles,” Koleber said. “With this vehicle purchase, and the one for 28 new CAT Mobility vans, and our other strategic plans, we are moving toward the goal of high quality services that I know our staff is capable of providing to the citizens and visitors of Chatham County.”
Last year’s annual combined ridership for the transit agency’s fixed route buses, CAT Mobility services for people with disabilities, and water ferries totaled nearly 4 million passenger trips.