The Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit Board of Directors voted unanimously to reduce the transit agency’s summer service in a special meeting Monday, according to a TCAT press release.
The reductions include changes to the service schedule of 21 bus lines, which already run with decreased frequency in the summer.
In a series of meetings with the Cornell and Ithaca community last week, the agency explained that the changes are a result of chronic bus operator shortages. TCAT is 10 drivers short of the optimal number it needs to meet demand for its summer routes and has been filling this gap by hiring contract drivers — which cost an additional $33,000 a week — according to the release.
Although federal laws did not oblige TCAT to hold public hearings because the cuts are emergency or temporary changes, the company held four public sessions and accepted feedback via email and a special phone line, the release said.
“We felt transparency was extremely important,” said Alice Eccleston, TCAT Acting General Manager.
Based on public feedback, TCAT will attempt to reduce inconvenience to riders — such as by maintaining transfers between popular roots — as it makes the service changes, according to the release.
The release added that the organization will continue to prioritize filling bus operator positions.