Cameron Pollack / Sun File Photo

Amidst a massive decline in ridership and COVID-19 closures, TCAT announced that it would cut substantial service by Thursday, March 19.

April 3, 2016

TCAT Considers Further Cuts to Summer Service Schedule

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The Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit Board of Trustees plans to seek public input before making severe cuts to its summer services, TCAT announced in a press release.

The board met on March 24 to consider additional cuts to its already reduced summer schedule, the release said. The transportation operator will hold open information sessions to discuss the proposed cuts with the public.

The company plans to host two sessions on Cornell’s campus on April 7 and April 8 — in 226 Weill Hall and the community room of Maplewood Apartments, respectively — as 50 percent of TCAT riders in the summer season are Cornell students, according to the TCAT websites.

Two additional sessions, targeting Ithaca residents, are currently scheduled for April 5 at the Tompkins County Public Library, according to the press release.

TCAT Acting General Manager Alice Eccleston explained the cuts, saying numbers of bus drivers have drastically decreased.

“We have to face a new reality that we cannot promise or advertise a service we cannot fulfill,” Eccleston said in the release.

The transportation operator currently lacks 12 of 82 bus drivers it needs to maintain service in the non-academic year, and has been hiring contract drivers to sustain service since November, according to the release. The cost of continuing to use contract drivers — an additional $33,000 per week — is unsustainable for the company, the release said.

The proposed cuts and adjustments are extensive, with multiple cuts affecting approximately 21 routes. Many of these routes would see trimmed schedules, including the loss of both early morning and late night service.

Students said the cuts would likely affect their plans to travel around the city over the summer.

“In terms of getting to places on campus, I don’t think I’ll be affected by it since I walk everywhere,” said Miguel Gomez ’19, who said he plans to stay in Ithaca this summer. “However, it’ll definitely affect me if I’m going off campus since over the summer there’s not much to do.”

With aging buses that often require costly repairs, TCAT will continue to face financial problems that affect its approximately 4.2 million riders, the release said.

“Though a reduction in summer service is considered a temporary action, we cannot promise we will not be forced to make cuts for fall service as well,” Eccleston said in the release. “We will strive to inform the community so that they can plan for their travel needs.”