Emma Hoarty / Sun Staff Photographer

Due to route delays and shortages in the number of buses, TCAT has started renting buses from other companies or purchasing used buses to convert into TCAT buses.

January 29, 2019

TCAT Readies to Handle Winter Storm Conditions

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With winding roads and slippery slopes on campus, Ithaca street conditions can become increasingly risky in the winter. When it’s difficult for students to drive — or even “penguin walk” — to class, the Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit buses try to take extra precautions to ensure passenger safety.

In advance of the treacherous weather, TCAT’s management team has a safety procedure to handle poor weather conditions, according to TCAT communications and marketing manager Patty Poist. These plans include changing bus routes to avoid certain roads, efficient communication systems and rigorous training to ensure that qualified drivers are behind the wheel.

TCAT is intimately familiar with the challenges of Ithaca roadways and which are most susceptible to icy accidents, and every driver is prepared take alternate routes to avoid these precarious situations, Poist said.

“If [drivers] notice that an area is bad, [they] notify dispatch. Dispatch, and the operations team in general, makes the call to go with the ‘snow route,’” Poist told The Sun.

Cornellians should note route changes to the 51, 92 and 93 lines in order to avoid stretches of University Avenue, Stewart Avenue and Thurston Avenue. A full list of planned route changes can be viewed here.

While moving away from these identified routes is standard, the bus company acknowledged that other roads could also become problematic.

“Because every weather situation is different, it’s hard to really standardize, but there’s a communication process that we follow,” Poist said. “It’a a constant communication with the team back here to make a decision about what they’re going to do.”

Bus drivers can be informed of alterations through radio broadcast or through monitors inside the bus.

Along with the above precautions, TCAT services also take measures to ensure drivers are qualified for the job.

“They [drivers] have to go through a lot of training and have a lot of skills to have a license to drive a bus. In addition, TCAT has a pretty intensive training program,” Poist said. “They are truly professional.”

Students can be informed of any weather-related bus route changes either on the TCAT website’s Bus Tracker or on TCAT bus apps, such as Transit and MyStop Mobile.