CATA Named #1 Transit System in North America

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.

The Capital Area Transportation Authority provides fixed-route and demand- response service within Ingham County, Michigan. County residents number 277,000 and the County spans 560 square miles. The 2000 Census shows a density of 500 residents per square mile in the county. CATA serves this area with 30 fixed-routes, operating 7 days a week. CATA operates 24/7 on the MSU campus during fall and spring terms. CATA offers eight Paratransit services, including ADA complementary Paratransit, general demand-response service to the rural communities and same day demand-response service to four suburban communities. CATA assumed MSU campus transportation services in August 1999 . Michigan State University represents a significant customer base for CATA with its 46,000 students. CATA is also the regional coordinator for van and carpool matching services. As of Dec. 31, 2006 , CATA employed 290 individuals, including 215 ATU motor coach operators and 27 ATU employees in maintenance.

This 2007 Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award highlights CATA's toolbox for success: innovation, collaboration, technology, training and positive relations with employees, the Board and the community. Those tools, applied with a great deal of hard work and dedication, constructed a much more efficient and effective CATA system over the 2004-06 period. Here are some of the achievements:

The community's reliance on CATA services has never been stronger. CATA is helping move its community forward. The CATA Board is proud to announce that the Capital Area Transportation Authority has received APTA's 2006 Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award.

Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) honors one public transportation system in North America each year who has demonstrated outstanding achievement in efficiency and effectiveness. Systems are judged on their performance over a 3-year period. One system is chosen from each of four categories; based on passenger trip totals. CATA was ranked first for 2007 in the 4 - 30 million ride category which includes 106 systems.

The judging panel of transit professionals from across North America , looks at a system's quantitative measures such as ridership per passenger mile, number of customer complaints, safety indicators, etc. which compose up to 2/3 of the total score. Qualitative measures count for 1/3 of the total score. These include specific programmatic improvements and achievements in:

CATA will receive the formal award at the APTA Annual Meeting award luncheon on October 9, 2007 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

SOURCE The Capital Area Transportation Authority