New Buses Being Added to Cat Tran Fleet

New Buses Being Added to Cat Tran Fleet

By Kyle MittanUniversity Communications
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Aging Cat Tran shuttles are being replaced with new buses. The first two, including this one, are running on the purple and green routes. Many of the fleet's buses are more than 10 years old. (Photo by Florence Dei Ochoa/Parking & Transportation Services)
Aging Cat Tran shuttles are being replaced with new buses. The first two, including this one, are running on the purple and green routes. Many of the fleet's buses are more than 10 years old. (Photo by Florence Dei Ochoa/Parking & Transportation Services)
Among the upgrades on the new buses is front boarding for wheelchair users. (Photo by Florence Dei Ochoa/Parking & Transportation Services)
Among the upgrades on the new buses is front boarding for wheelchair users. (Photo by Florence Dei Ochoa/Parking & Transportation Services)
New buses also include monitors that display upcoming stops. (Photo by Florence Dei Ochoa/Parking & Transportation Services)
New buses also include monitors that display upcoming stops. (Photo by Florence Dei Ochoa/Parking & Transportation Services)

Anyone who regularly takes the Cat Tran might be pleasantly surprised the next time they climb aboard.

A phased upgrade is planned for the free shuttles that provide transportation to the UA community within and around the edges of the main campus. New buses began hitting the road this month.

 Parking & Transportation Services announced the upgrades in a message to campus in June.

The Cat Tran service, offered by Parking & Transportation Services, began in 1989 and now provides more than 320,000 rides a year. Six routes provide access across the main campus and to the UA Health Sciences campus. Routes also reach areas south of Sixth Street, as well as Park 'N Ride lots along Mountain Avenue to Prince Road, as far west as Granada Avenue, and south of Broadway Boulevard along Plumer Avenue.

Many of the 22 buses in the Cat Tran fleet are more than 10 years old, with the oldest dating to 2004, according to Parking & Transportation Services. The refresh calls for the replacement of eight shuttles at a rate of two per year.

Two new shuttles have already started giving rides on the purple and green routes – the most frequently used – and a third will be added prior to the start of the school year, with a fourth following shortly after. The new buses offer smoother rides with less noise, front boarding for wheelchair users and monitors that display upcoming stops. All Cat Tran buses can be tracked in real time using the TransLoc app.

In response to  feedback from students who wanted the Cat Tran to go to more locations off campus, PTS will pilot a new stop this year to El Con Center, 2601 E. Broadway Blvd., on the NightCat route.

The upgrades are funded in part by rate increases for some parking permits. The 5% increase, announced on June 17, apply to the following parking options:

  • Parking garages – $34 per year
  • Lot-specific permits – $29 per year
  • South of Sixth and Zone 1 parking – $22 per year
  • Park 'N Ride – $5 per year

The upgrades are part of a larger effort to bolster alternative transportation services on campus as parking garages – which are typically more expensive to build and therefore cost more to use – become more common, said Jim Sayre, executive director of parking and transportation.

"As campus develops, smaller, lower-cost parking is lost and replaced with higher-cost garages," Sayre said. "We've been very successful in reducing the demand for parking by subsidizing alternative modes of transportation. Parking & Transportation Services is here to be a participating member of the campus team and it's our mission to help everyone else on campus be successful. In that spirit, we keep the cost to our customers as low as we can while still meeting our financial obligations."

UA employees and students also get a 50% discount on Sun Tran bus and Sun Link streetcar passes with U-Pass.

Revenues from parking permit fees also fund the debt service payments that Parking & Transportation Services has from previously constructed parking garages.

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