CATA operates both bus transit and paratransit service across a 559-square-mile (1,450 km2) area throughout metro Lansing including Michigan State University. CATA logged 10,896,146 riders in fiscal year 2016, an overall ridership decline of 4.7% from the previous fiscal year.
CATA has approximately 300 employees, of which nearly 200 are bus operators. It does not operate on these seven major holidays:New Year's Day
Fourth of July
In 2012, 47% of CATA's operating revenue came from local sources, another 29% from state sources, and 24% came from fares and additional sources.
Referred to as "fixed route service", CATA's standard bus service operates on over 30 routes with both rigid 40 ft (12 m) and articulated 60 ft (18 m) buses. CATA's fleet consists of low floor buses manufactured by New Flyer. The bus service hub is at the CATA Transportation Center (CTC) in downtown Lansing, with a satellite hub on the MSU campus (see below). In August 2006, CATA added the first three hybrid electric buses to its fleet (New Flyer DE40LFR), making CATA the first company in Michigan to operate hybrid buses. Since then it has continued to purchase more, including articulated hybrid models.
Fixed route buses use a GPS-based system manufactured by Luminator USA that periodically plays a voice-recording of the bus's location over the loudspeakers. This is particularly useful to the visually impaired and users who are unfamiliar with the area. All buses are also equipped with fold-out ramps for users in wheelchairs.
CATA operates a satellite hub, called the MSU/CATA Transportation Center, on the Michigan State University campus. This center serves as a hub for CATA's MSU-based routes; it also consists of a large public parking ramp. Many of the MSU-area routes are called "Spartan Service". This means that the route only operates during the MSU fall and spring semesters. This includes all routes numbered 30–36 and 39, Lot Link and Night Owl. Other routes (routes 1, 23, 25 and 26) are partially Spartan Service, that is, they run more frequently and/or longer into the night during the semesters.
CATA significantly altered its intra-campus (routes 30–39) Spartan Service bus routes serving Michigan State University beginning Fall 2009. Changes include Routes 30 & 31 having extended weeknight hours, Routes 34-36 having service only on the weekends, and the creation of Route 39, linking University Village and Spartan Village to the main campus. As a result, both Routes 31 & 32 saw route changes as well. Since August 25, 2014, Route 31 no longer changes into Route 30 at East Neighborhood, and vice versa.
Starting August 2014, a program called CATAnow has been created to provide immediate departure times at any of the bus stops. Passengers can use either their mobile devices or their computers by entering the bus stop number and the optional route number(s), and they will receive the departure times in seconds. It is also free to use this service.
CATA operates several paratransit services using small buses and mini vans. One service, Spec-Tran, is offered to persons with disabilities who are unable to use fixed route service. The "Night Owl", offers rides across the MSU campus every night from 2 am to 7 am (9 am on weekends) in order to give students a safer way to traverse campus at these hours.
CATA partnered with metropolitan municipalities beginning in the summer of 2009 to study and evaluate transit improvements to Route 1, which runs from downtown Lansing to the Meridian Mall. Improvements being evaluated include enhancing the existing bus system, adding bike lanes, improving intersections, or upgrading the existing route from a bus line to a bus rapid transit line, light rail, or a modern streetcar line. The CATA Board of Directors formally adopted bus rapid transit as the locally preferred alternative for the corridor on February 16, 2011. This authorized the transit to submit an application to be part of the Federal Transit Administration Small Starts program, which would provide substantial funding for the capital costs of construction this line. The propsal was moved to the FTA's project development phase in April 2013, which includes getting funding for an environmental review and design and engineering activities.Route categories
Routes 1–16 are Lansing-area routes.
Routes 20–26 are east-area routes (East Lansing, Okemos, Haslett). However, there is no Route 21.
Routes 30–36, and 39 are MSU-area routes and all are entirely Spartan Service (i.e. they only run during MSU fall and spring semesters and are marked "Entire route" under the "Spartan Service" column)
Routes 46 and 48 are limited stop commuter routes. Route 41 was a limited stop commuter route, but is now discontinued.
"(Limited)" indicates that the route only stops at certain points
"(Trolley)" indicates that the route is run using trolley-style buses. Bicycles cannot be brought on this route.
All CATA bus routes are wheelchair accessible .
CATA offers a variety of payment methods and fares.
Riders paying by cash use the following fare structure for each one-way trip. All transfers from one route to another are free and valid up to two hours. Transfer may not be used to make a return trip; stopovers on issuing line is allowed.Seniors, disabled, all Medicare card holders, and students: $0.60
Children under 42 inches (110 cm) tall: Free if accompanied by fare-paying rider. Limit is 3.
All others: $1.25
Zone 2 fares of Route 3 between Lansing Mall and the intersection of Saginaw and Waverly Roads, which cost $2.50, have been discontinued since August 25, 2014.
CATACash cards are issued through the farebox as change during cash transactions.
Riders may use one CATA token for a one-way trip; again, transfers to another route are free. Tokens may be purchased for $1.25 each or in sets of 10 for $10.00 at various retail outlets around the area. They cannot be purchased on board buses.
Various bus passes are available that may be used on any numbered route (except commuter lot pass). They may be purchased at various retail outlets in the area or online at CATA's website. There are also passes for paratransit services such as CATA Rural Service and Spec-Tran.10-Ride Pass: $10.00 ($6.00 for seniors, disabled, Medicare card holders, and students)
31-Day Pass (unlimited rides for 31 days): $35.00 ($18.00 for seniors, disabled, Medicare card holders, and students)
Student Semester Pass (unlimited rides for one semester, for students only): $50.00
MSU Commuter Lot Pass (unlimited rides on Route 32 only): $20.00 for one semester, $33.00 for two semesters
Bicycle racks are installed on the front of all CATA buses, except the trolley-style buses. Each bus can accommodate up to three bicycles. Non-safety bicycles, such as recumbents and tandems, are not allowed.
CATA also rents out bike lockers located in downtown Lansing and East Lansing.
CATA is governed by a board of directors:Four members representing the City of Lansing:
Robert W. Swanson (Chair)
Two members representing the City of East Lansing:
Two members representing Meridian Township:
One member representing Lansing Township:
One member representing Delhi Township:
Douglas Lecato (Vice Chair)
One non-voting member representing Ingham County:
One non-voting member representing Michigan State University:
CATA won APTA's America's Best Transit System award for 1991 in the medium-size category, and again for 2007 in the 4–30 million annual passenger trips category. This award is given to systems with great efficiency and cost-effectiveness, a high safety rating, and a stable operations base, among other criteria.
In 2003, Sandy Draggoo, CATA's executive director, received the APTA Outstanding Public Transportation Manager in North America award.
In 2008, CATA was recognized by Metro Magazine as one of the Ten Best Places to Work in Transit. The article chronicled CATA's family-like culture, recognition of hard work, extreme efficiency, the Open-door policy of the executive office, and the pride CATA's workers mentioned in their employee surveys.