Ithaca College students who ride the TCAT can expect to see cheaper bus passes, more frequent stops at the college, extended hours and the replacement of transfer routes with direct routes as part of the company’s Transportation Development Plan that went into effect Jan. 17.
TCAT Service Development Manager Nancy Oltz said the decision was not made in response to any flaws in the system but rather to look at the concentration of people in the different areas of Ithaca within the past 10 years in order to better serve the community.
“We’ve operated the same footprint of service for 10 years, so one of the best things to do in order to look at your service and see if there are improvements you can make is to do a study like this,” Oltz said.
The company updated all but seven of its 34 routes, including six interlined routes — “one-seat rides” that take direct routes — in addition to a seven-day-a-week service to the airport and later service to the West Hill area and Cayuga Medical Center.
Route 11 now operates between the college and downtown Monday through Saturday from 7 to 2 a.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Students no longer have to transfer buses in order to get to the Ithaca Mall, Collegetown, Cornell University and Southside shopping. Oltz said six routes have been combined to eliminate transferring buses, including routes 11 and 30.
Sophomore Alex Petecca said he didn’t have many problems with the TCAT previously, but he didn’t like waiting for a transfer bus.
“I thought the TCAT worked fairly well,” he said. “It was time consuming, though and kind of a nuisance to take a bus to The Commons when I was going to the mall and then have to wait for the second bus to come. ”
Paper TCAT passes have been replaced by plastic passes called the Tcard, which look like debit cards that can be swiped on the bus and re-loaded online. Students will be able to swipe their student ID cards, which can be loaded with passes purchased through TCAT or soon the campus bookstore. Nicole Tedesco, TCAT’s service and operations analyst, said bus passes are now cheaper for students at the college.
“We know that a lot of students are hard pressed for disposable income, and Ithaca College has stepped up to the plate to help reduce the cost of student passes,” Tedesco said.
This semester TCAT passes are now $110, instead of $120. The cost of a monthly pass is $30 instead of $45. Additionally, the cost of a 15-ride card is $15.
“Essentially, Ithaca College is subsidizing all of [the passes] 33 percent off,” Tedesco said.
A new bus station has also been added on Green Street next to the Tompkins County Public Library. Patty Poist, manager of marketing communications for TCAT, said the station is a shelter for passengers waiting for the bus.
“We’re subleasing a portion of that space to Gimme! Coffee,” she said. “We’ve teamed up with them to create this cafélike experience. ”
Oltz said public opinion was strongly taken into consideration when developing the plan.
“We received over 600 comments from the public that helped us develop these routes,” she said. “We’re very pleased actually with the feedback we’re getting from our riders.”