Schuyler County to lose TCAT service after 1/14

TCAT is looking for ways to meet the transportation needs of Schuyler County passengers who will lose bus service next year as a result of Schuyler County Legislature’s decision on Nov. 8 to cut funding for it in the county’s 2011 budget.TCAT’s Board of Directors agreed to extend the service on the Route 20 bus for an extra two weeks through Friday, Jan. 14, to give Schuyler County passengers more time to adjust and to find travel alternatives to include signing up for a community vanpool sponsored by TCAT“We are distressed that we can no longer offer service to our valued Schuyler County passengers and hope we can come up with alternatives to everyone affected, particularly for those who do not have their own vehicles,” said TCAT General Manager Joe Turcotte. TCAT first began offering service to Schuyler County in January of 2009 and built a ridership of around 40 people who have come to rely on the service.Following the vote by Schuyler County legislators on Nov. 8, Turcotte and his staff had looked for ways to find funding to replace the $50,000 annual contributions from the county. However, they were unable to find a revenue source to make up the difference.TCAT contracted with Troy, Mich.-based VPSI Inc., in the spring of 2009 to provide a vanpooling service for area residents not on a TCAT bus route. TCAT has been working with Cornell’s Transportation Department to educate passengers about the service. Many of TCAT’s Schuyler County passengers work at Cornell and the university’s transportation staff have been working diligently to assist them with their transportation needs.“We are disappointed that TCAT will no longer be able to serve those who commute from Schuyler County due to budget cuts in that county,” said David J. Lieb, Cornell University’s associate director for transportation services. “We hope that many of the riders will be able to take advantage of the Community VanPool program that TCAT sponsors.”A van pool is a group of five to nine people sharing the ride to and from Tompkins County in safe and comfortable commuter van provided by VPSI. Rates are based on the size of the van (up to seven or nine passengers). Maintenance and vehicle insurance are already figured into the van costs. Fuel cost is worked out among group members and groups can opt to use a VPSI pre‑paid gas card. The group selects a primary driver who is responsible for the van, the safety of the passengers and keeping the group together, monthly reporting and invoice payments and arranging van maintenance. VPSI strongly recommends the driver ride fee.Both Cornell Transportation and TCAT staff plan to distribute information about vanpooling to TCAT’s Schuyler County passengers riding the Route 20 bus from Schuyler County on Nov. 30. In addition Cornell will host two information sessions on campus (G01 Biotech Building) from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and noon to 1 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 2. TCAT will host a third session at 3 p.m. at the Borg Warner Room West that same day at the Tompkins County Public Library. Anyone interested in vanpooling is encouraged to come to the 3 p.m. session. VPSI officials will be on hand to demonstrate the convenience and cost savings of using a vanpool. Depending on the number of passengers and the total round‑trip mileage, the cost per person ranges from $50 to $80 per month.

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