Chatham Area Transit looking to tackle commuter complaints

CAT officials addressing para-transit commuter complaints (Credit:Robert Catanese)

In a recent statement released by Chatham Area Transit officials dated June 25, they are looking to address a variety of issues affecting commuters.

“The Chatham Area Transit Authority is experiencing temporary delays and a higher demand than usual for CAT Mobility transit services due to the departure of its contractor, Yellow Cab last month.”

Yellow Cab severed ties with CAT back on May 17, That, according to officials, had CAT management scrambling to cover the excess rides picked up by Yellow Cab.

“We know we have issues so we are addressing those issues,” said Michael Brown, the executive director and COO of CAT.

Extended wait times for those riding the para-transit line is what commuters say is the issue.

“When we lost Yellow Cab, our overflow provider, we had to try to cover about 130-150 trips. We had to cover those trips at very short notice with the resources we had,” said Brown.

Since May 17, Brown said they have been trying to catch up.

“Since the demand is so great and the resources didn’t increase with the demand, we actually lost resources in May. It's caused a strain on the service,” he said.

He says CAT is taking steps now to correct the delays.

“We are not only training internally, also looking at outside sources to come in and help fill the gap for at least another 90-120 days,” Brown said.

Brown said CAT has taken several steps to fill the gap in routes lost by the departure of Yellow Cab, including the following:

Human Resources and Vehicles

  • Contracted with temporary drivers and obtained additional vehicles
  • Requested several CAT operators and supervisors work extra hours to assist
  • Obtained assistance from other transit providers in the area: Coastal Regional Commission & Transition Commute Solutions

Call Center Operations

  • Added temporary staff for the increased volume of calls to minimize hold times
  • Designated a key staff person for questions regarding ETAs and another person to respond to questions about fixed-route buses
  • Added another reservationist to speed up the reservation process
  • Increased phone update messages
  • Created and distributed informational customer flyers

Enhanced Communication tools in vehicles

  • Received 11 portable radios for vehicles that did not have them
  • Ordered additional portable radios
  • Making plans to place tablets in vehicles for GPS tracking and schedule updates
  • A new fleet of paratransit vans for this program arrives within the next 60 days and the agency is continuing to hire and train more CAT Mobility operators. A class of 11 people began training today.

Brown said he hopes to be operating business as usual within the next four months. In the meantime, he suggests “any para-transit passenger that is able to ride the fixed route, we encourage them to utilize the fixed route service when you can just to alleviate the pressure on para-transit until we get this situation under hand.”

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