For many years, Community Action of Orleans and Genesee has been a resource supporting reliable and affordable transportation services to community members in our two counties via the Community Action Transportation System, better known CATS.
But the current system of providing bus transportation has become exceedingly expensive for Community Action. Over recent years, many of our bus trips contain only one or two riders. Using buses to transport a single rider is extremely expensive and the costs have continued to rise with increases in insurance, bus maintenance, fuel and wages.
It is with a heavy heart that Community Action has made the decision to downsize the CATS Bus transportation system. With costs exceeding revenue, it is deemed necessary to protect our ability to provide the many unique and essential services we bring to our customers. This will be difficult and this process will take time.
“Fuel and bus maintenance is costly, while ridership is low due to COVID and new conveniences such as remote work, grocery delivery, and telehealth,” said Community Action Executive Director Renee Hungerford.
The CATS program has been providing to residents, bus transportation service for established routes and for “on-demand” rides year-round, five days per week. Destinations included community health centers, doctor and hospital visits, treatment centers, clinics, dialysis, and retail store shopping.
The caring and courageous staff continued services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic despite a drastic reduction in riders along with the added effort of sanitizing buses between trips.
Community Action services have been able to support clients who are elderly or disabled and who remain independent in their homes but do not own/drive a vehicle.
CATS bus transportation services have evolved where experienced and professional staff have dedicated themselves not only to ensuring maintained vehicles but have also provided very caring door-to-door and door-through-door service for some of our clients.
Today however, our friends at Rochester Transportation Services (RTS) and others are helping to fulfill this need.
Community Action will work with partners to do everything possible to ensure transportation needs are met by offering other transportation options to our Community Action clients. We will continue to provide busing for our Head Start program.
As we go through this process, we will research the possibility to evolve our community transportation support to vans and energy efficient vehicles that meet the special needs of valued customers.