Casey Martin/The Ithaca Voice

The TCAT has reduced routes over the past few years due to pandemic-induced challenges.

August 15, 2023

TCAT Brings Increased Services, New Fare Collection System for Fall 2023

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The Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit system’s fall service — which will run from Aug. 20 to Jan. 20 — has been modified to increase the reliability and helpfulness of the bus system, according to an Aug. 11 press release.

A notable change for the fall will be the return of Cornell University campus circulator routes 83 and 92, along with adjustments to routes 81, 82 and 90, which are campus circulators that have run on reduced service schedules throughout the summer. Route 92 will also include late-night service running from 7:40 p.m. to 1:40 a.m. on Mondays through Saturdays.

In previous reporting by The Sun and The Ithaca Voice, students and faculty described how cutting routes 83 and 92 from TCAT’s spring 2023 service disrupted their schedules. Cornell community members said the remaining buses were overcrowded and unreliable, with delays causing TCAT users to be late to classes, work shifts and appointments.

Other TCAT route changes include the following:

  • On weekends, Route 90 will offer a one-seat (no transfer) ride — interlining with Route 15 — from North Campus to shopping locations, such as Wegmans and Walmart.
  • Route 30 — TCAT’s highest demand route — will continue to run from campus, downtown and the Ithaca Mall, but it will also include weekend service to West Campus and more weekend trips overall.
  • Routes 30, 51 and 90 will return to serving Collegetown directly with College Avenue’s reopening after a lengthy construction project.
  • Route 10, which runs from the Commons to Cornell’s campus, will see more frequent service, although the last trip departing from Seneca Street Station will remain at 4:20 p.m.
  • Ithaca College, typically serviced by South Hill’s Route 11, will now see extra on-campus service due to the Danby Route 65.
  • Route 11 will also offer later night service. The last departure from downtown on Saturdays will be at 1:15 a.m.

In the years following the COVID-19 pandemic, TCAT has reduced bus routes due to staff shortages and supply chain challenges. The TCAT responded to these challenges by considering driver recruitment and retention and the efficiency of bus maintenance and repairs.

“As with transit agencies all over the country, post-pandemic driver and equipment shortages have forced TCAT to curb service over the past three-plus years,” the press release states. “Since then, TCAT’s recovery strategies have included a nonstop emphasis on recruitment to attract new drivers, higher compensation and creative route planning to ease up on drivers’ long workday schedules. TCAT has also introduced new shop protocols to get buses through routine maintenance and/or repaired and back in service faster.”

TCAT is also implementing a new fare collection system, which will officially commence on Tuesday, Aug. 15. According to TCAT’s Aug. 2 press release, the previous system has been in place for the past 14 years and has become less efficient in recent years. 

Through the new system, Cornell IDs will need to be swiped, rather than tapped to the farebox as the previous system allowed. For those not using Cornell IDs, apps, smartcards and an on-demand payment platform will be available for use with the new system, according to TCAT. 

Julia Senzon is a reporter from the Cornell Daily Sun working on The Sun’s summer fellowship at The Ithaca Voice. This piece was originally published in The Ithaca Voice.