CATA wants to know how service reductions have impacted Centre County

The CATA bus for the A route, Park Forest, waits for passengers at the Allen Street gates stop on Oct. 15. The route was suspended due to staffing shortages.

The CATA bus for the A route, Park Forest, waits for passengers at the Allen Street gates stop on Oct. 15. The route was suspended due to staffing shortages.

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After the Centre Area Transportation Authority was forced to change several of its services due to severe staffing shortages, it is seeking feedback from the community on how that has impacted them.

CATA will hold a community input meeting at 5 p.m. Dec. 7 in the Downsbrough Community Room at Schlow Centre Region Library, 211 S. Allen Street, State College. CATA riders and others can share how CATA’s recent service changes have impacted them and their transportation needs. The information and comments gathered at the meeting will be considered in future service planning decisions, according to a press release.

In September, CATA announced it would temporarily suspend several bus routes while reducing the service frequency of others. The suspended routes included Route F (Pine Grove), Route G (Gray’s Woods) and Route S (Science Park). Frequency reductions included Route P (Boalsburg), and Routes N, R, V, W and HM.

Another round of temporary suspensions and frequency reductions were announced in October. The suspended routes included Route A (Park Forest), Route XG (Pleasant Gap), and the Green Link, which operates on the Penn State campus. Service reductions impacted Route K (Cato Park), HM (Toftrees/Nittany Mall), P (Boalsburg), XP (Scenery Park) and early morning service on the Loops and Links were suspended.

CATA didn’t give a timeline of when services might return to “normal” but in an October press release wrote they expected the temporary changes to service to remain in effect through the end of the calendar year and possibly longer. Things would be reevaluated as hiring continues, it stated. At the time, CATA needed to hire 20 additional drivers, but needed 30 to reach levels to operate the service planned for the fall.

In a written statement in September, CATA CEO and executive director Louwana Oliva said CATA was experiencing “unprecedented staffing shortages.”

“CATA currently finds itself in the situation of not having enough employees to cover scheduled transportation service. We have all hands on deck, and everyone with a CDL is being asked to get behind the wheel, but staffing is too thin to handle any type of absence that may arise,” she said.

Those who are unable to attend the meeting can submit comments through Dec. 8 by emailing them to [email protected] or calling CATA’s customer service center at 814-238-2282.

This story was originally published November 29, 2021 11:10 AM.

Halie Kines reports on local government for the Centre Daily Times. She grew up in Penns Valley and graduated from Penn State.

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