Central Arkansas Transit Authority

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Central Arkansas Transit Authority
Little Rock CATA bus.jpg
Founded 1986[1]
Headquarters 901 Maple Street
Locale North Little Rock, Arkansas
Service area Little Rock Metro Area
Service type Fixed Route
Paratransit
Streetcar
Routes 24 Bus Routes
2 Streetcar Lines
Stops 1,455 (Bus)
15 (Rail)
Hubs 1 (River Cities Travel Center)
Fleet 59 Buses
24 Paratransit Vans
5 Streetcars
Fuel type Diesel, DC Electric
Website www.cat.org

The Central Arkansas Transit Authority (CATA) is the largest transit agency in Arkansas. CATA provides public transportation services for the Little Rock, Arkansas metropolitan area seven days a week. The twenty-two (22) fixed routes and four (4) express commuter routes provide transportation service to 10,000 riders every weekday. A demand response ADA para-transit service, known as LINKS, operates alongside the fixed route hours and coverage area. A heritage streetcar system, known as the River Rail, operates 3.4 miles of track throughout the Little Rock and North Little Rock downtowns.

Background[edit]

Prior to the creation of the Central Arkansas Transit Authority, the transit system was owned and operated by private companies. Until 1950, the transit system was owned by Arkansas Power & Light (AP&L). In 1950, AP&L sold the transit system, Capital Transportation Company (CTC), to a group of local investors. A strike by the transit union, Amalgamated Transit Union Division 704, in 1955-1956 left the company with a damaged reputation and exacerbated existing financial problems. The governments of Little Rock and North Little Rock awarded the franchise to a new company, Citizens' Coach Company (CCC), on February 28, 1956. Although the new company was backed by a group of local unions, the same financial problems that CTC encountered led to the demise of CCC by 1962. The declining passenger revenue and rising wages left few resources to maintain the bus fleet. Following the takeover of the transit system by Twin City Transit (TCT) on September 25, 1962, the federal government began offering funds to struggling transit systems through various assistance programs. This funding assisted TCT with purchasing new buses, and TCT experienced some financial success. But the increase in passenger revenue was temporary as TCT could not keep up with offering service in the expanding cities without continuing to receive fare increases. A 1971 study recommended that the transit system shift to public ownership under the direction of a regional authority. Central Arkansas Transit commenced operations under the trusteeship of Metroplan on May 1, 1972. As a regional planning entity, Metroplan lacked the resources to supervise a transit operation indefinitely. Local government partners were being asked to infuse more money into the operation, and wanted more of a direct say than the 1972 agreement granted. On July 14, 1986, CATA was chartered when Pulaski County and the cities of Little Rock, North Little Rock, Cammack Village, Maumelle, Sherwood, and Jacksonville entered into an interlocal agreement that established CATA as a public corporation.[2]

Bus Routes[edit]

#1 Pulaski Heights #10 McCain Mall #19 Hensley Express
#2 South Main #11 M.L. King #20 Airport/College Station
#3 Baptist Medical Center #12 Presidential Library/East 6th #21 University Avenue
#4 Levy/Amboy #13 Pulaski Tech #22 Mabelvale-Midtown
#5 West Markham #14 Rosedale #23 Baseline/Southwest
#6 Granite Mountain #15 65th Street #25 Pinnacle Mountain Express
#7 East 9th #16 UALR #26 Maumelle Express
#8 Rodney Parham #17 Mabelvale-Downtown #36 Jacksonville/Sherwood Express
#9 West Central/Barrow Road #18 McAlmont

Streetcars[edit]

Two River Rail streetcars pause at the HAM stop in June 2005
Main article: River Rail Streetcar

The River Rail Streetcar began operation in November 2004. Operating 3.4 miles of track in Little Rock and across the Arkansas River in North Little Rock, the streetcar system caters to visitors, tourists, and local downtown residents. There has been a significant amount of capital investment along the streetcar line, sales tax and property tax revenue has increased, there are more downtown residents, and visitorship and tourism has increased for both the streetcar and local attractions. Read more about the economic developments in the River Rail Economic Enhancement Study[3] conducted by CATA in late 2012.

Transit Center[edit]

The River Cities Travel Center (RCTC) is the main transfer hub in downtown Little Rock. Twenty (20) fixed routes and all 4 express routes serve RCTC. At Midtown Target/Doctor's Hospital, 6 fixed routes converge on St. Vincent Circle to provide more convenient, efficient transferring opportunities in West Central Little Rock.

Current Fleet[edit]

Bus[edit]

Vehicle Numbers Make Model Year
Notes
2101-2107; 2109 Gillig Corporation Low Floor 2001 35FT
2301-2309 Gillig Corporation Low Floor 2003 35FT
2401-2407 Gillig Corporation Low Floor 2004 29FT
2701-2705 Gillig Corporation Low Floor 2007 35FT
2706 Gillig Corporation Low Floor 2007 40FT
2801-2805 Gillig Corporation Low Floor 2008 40FT
2806-2810 Gillig Corporation Low Floor 2008 40FT
2901-2904 Gillig Corporation Low Floor 2009 40FT
2905-2907 Gillig Corporation Low Floor 2009 35FT
1001-1004 Gillig Corporation Low Floor 2010 40FT

Paratransit[edit]

Vehicle Numbers Make Model Year
Notes
2851-2857 ElDorado National Aero Elite 2008 Chevrolet C4500 Cutaway
2961-2963 ElDorado National Aero Elite 2009 Chevrolet C4500 Cutaway; Jayco Chassis
2954-2965 ElDorado National Aero Elite 2008 Chevrolet C5500 Cutaway
1251-1252 ElDorado National Aero Tech 2012 Chevrolet G4500 Express Van Cutaway

Rail[edit]

Vehicle Numbers Make Model Year
Notes
408 Gomaco Trolley Company Replica Birney 2002
409-410 Gomaco Trolley Company Replica Birney 2003
411-412 Gomaco Trolley Company Replica Birney 2006

Future[edit]

The Central Arkansas Transit Authority is involved in the long-range transportation planning process for the Little Rock metropolitan area. Future expansion recommendations include more frequent service, expanded coverage area, service to outlying areas, Sunday service on all routes, and placement of facilities at more bus stops.

There are expansion studies for the River Rail Streetcar to provide more service in North Little Rock and Little Rock. Recommendations include service to the Capitol Building, to the Airport, and down Main Street in both Little Rock and North Little Rock.

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Interlocal Agreement Chartering The Central Arkansas Transit Authority
  2. ^ A Call for Regional Leadership: Public Transit in Central Arkansas
  3. ^ River Rail Economic Enhancement Study