The Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit bus system reported an increased ridership level in 2005 over the year before. The period from October to December 2005 showed particular gains of over 15 to 20 percent from the same months in 2004.
Dwight Mengel, TCAT service development manager, said that TCAT carried 3,080,000 passengers in 2005, an increase from the 2,738,998 passengers recorded in 2004.
Certain popular routes experienced an even higher rate of growth. Route 10, which runs from campus to the Ithaca Commons every 10 minutes during weekdays, saw ridership increase 58 percent over 2004, while route 81, which runs between Cornell’s A Lot and B Lot, carried a passenger load 25 percent larger than last year’s.
To cope with the strain on the system of higher passenger numbers, TCAT obtained $142,000 in additional funding from New York State.
TCAT, in a December press release, attributed the high numbers to the rising cost of gasoline in the past year. Mengel said that Cornell faculty and staff showed a 64 percent growth rate, suggesting that more elected to use the bus rather than their cars.
The University pays fares for all faculty and staff within TCAT’s zone one, which encompasses all of campus.
Mengel said the free OmniRide bus passes that the University distributed to freshmen and new transfer students at the beginning of the fall semester may have also contributed to an increase in ridership. These passes were given to every incoming student who agreed not to purchase a parking permit as a result of the agreement reached between the University and the Redbud Woods activists in July 2005.
Eyden Reinhardt ’09, who received a bus pass in August, said that he uses his pass “every day” to get around campus. If the free bus pass program were cancelled in the future, he would most likely buy one.
“I’d probably buy one [in the future], if [the University] decides not to give them to us,” Reinhardt said.
An annual bus pass costs $200 if purchased through the University or $495 if bought directly from TCAT. Only students are eligible for the subsidized price.
TCAT was reorganized at the beginning of 2005 into a non-profit corporation formed from the former partnership between the University, the City of Ithaca and Tompkins County. It operates 38 routes that run through the entire county.