LANSING , Mich., July 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Capital Area Transportation Authority (CATA) has been named the best transit system of its size in North America by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).
"This is the highest honor in our industry," said Sandy Draggoo , CATA's CEO/Executive Director. "We couldn't be more excited or proud!" Draggoo also won the prestigious General Manager of the Year award from APTA in 2003.
CATA was ranked #1 in the competitive 4-30 million passenger trips category. This category includes 106 transit systems. APTA gives out the Outstanding Transportation System Achievement Award annually to honor transit systems demonstrating exceptional efficiency and effectiveness. Transit systems are judged on services and programs, safety, operations, customer service, financial management, attendance and employee costs, advancement of minorities and women, marketing, policy and administration, and community relations.
"CATA is at the leading edge of transit systems here in Michigan, and across the nation, with its environmental initiative, innovative partnerships, and responsive service," said Governor Jennifer M. Granholm. "CATA is an integral part of the capital area and this award is a great honor for CATA and the entire community."
The award will be presented to CATA at the APTA Annual Meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina on October 9, 2007 . This conference brings together more than 2,000 transit industry professionals from across the world. CATA was also voted #1 in 1991. No other Michigan transit system can claim multiple wins as 'America's Best'.
"This award belongs to the dedicated CATA employees who do their work so well," said CATA Board President Patricia Munshaw . "It also belongs to those who use our services and to the citizens in our service area. It recognizes their support through their loyal patronage as customers, as well as their financial support through local funding. Their investment maintains a comprehensive service system; deserving of this recognition."
Draggoo surprised employees with the APTA award announcement at a special employee celebration this morning ( July 19 ) at the CATA administrative facility in south Lansing . "Our employees work hard to provide high quality transportation," said Draggoo. "This award recognizes their hard work, dedication, and most of all, commitment to our customers."
"This is kind of like winning the Emmy. It's the best of the best," APTA President William W. Millar said in a videotaped message to Draggoo and CATA's 300 employees during the celebration. "You won for many reasons, including your outstanding safety record at CATA, your incredible ridership growth and your record of service to your customers."
APTA is a nonprofit international association of 1,500 member organizations, including bus, rapid transit and commuter rail systems. APTA members serve more than 90 percent of people who use public transportation in the United States and Canada .
CATA was the also the first public transit system in Michigan to add full size hybrid buses to its fleet this past year. CATA's 2006 ridership broke its all-time record -- exceeding 10 million rides in 2006.
Every day, seniors, students, commuters, individuals with disabilities, and others depend on CATA to go wherever life takes them. At its beginning in 1972, CATA operated 14 bus routes. That year the system provided 750,000 rides. The number of bus routes has more than doubled since then. As the system grew, CATA added additional services to meet customer needs. In 2005, CATA celebrated breaking the 9-million ride mark. In 2006, passengers took a record 10 million rides on CATA. Now CATA has been named the recipient of the 2007 Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award by the American Public Transportation Association.