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TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y. – TCAT has teamed up with Fitzgerald Brothers, a local charter service that is leasing TCAT two 37-foot buses to help alleviate bus shortages that have been causing service disruptions.

Effective today, TCAT is using the Fitzgerald buses on its rural routes serving Enfield, Trumansburg, Lansing, Dryden, Caroline and Newfield during morning and evening peak time on weekdays. This is relieving strain on TCAT’s fleet and freeing up TCAT buses to serve heavy commuter routes. Even with the additional buses going into service, TCAT was still forced to cut some trips today, but the situation should improve as TCAT implements other solutions, such as using third-party maintenance shops to assist with routine maintenance.

“The Fitzgerald buses are helping tremendously as we continue to work toward minimal service disruptions,” said Assistant General Manager Mike Smith. “This will take some pressure off our maintenance department so that we can continue to improve our preventative maintenance percentages and get more of our buses back up and running.”

Smith said Fitzgerald drivers are operating the buses, but each bus is also staffed with a TCAT driver to assist with route information, passenger questions and fare collection.

Last week, TCAT announced that finding solutions to bus shortages is its No. 1 priority. When there are bus shortages, dispatchers typically reduce service on high-frequency routes, such as routes 10, 30 and 82, knowing that riders can more easily catch the next bus in a shorter period of time compared to less-frequent rural routes. Nonetheless, some riders are being inconvenienced and TCAT is striving to approach zero missed trips in the near future.

Related: TCAT cuts back peak time trips due to bus shortage

Bus shortages are a result of a number of factors including an aging fleet and more stringent NYSDOT regulations.

Recently, TCAT restructured its maintenance management team to better meet routine maintenance schedules and to keep the entire fleet road ready. Additionally, TCAT in recent weeks purchased five used buses at auction and they are presently being rehabilitated for inspection and to go into service. In the meantime, TCAT is continuing to look at other transportation companies to lease or borrow additional buses.

The Fitzgerald buses in use include one white and one black with the Fitzgerald logo in green. Signs with route numbers are posted on the passenger entry side of the buses. TCAT is prohibited from placing posters on front windows for safety reasons.

The Fitzgerald buses are being used on the following routes and trips:

  • Enfield/ Route 20:
    Outbound: 4:45 p.m. from Vet School; 6:05 p.m. from Green St. Station
    Inbound: 5:30 p.m. and 6:32 p.m. from Enfield Highway Dept.
  • Trumansburg/ Route 21:
    Outbound: 3:03 p.m. from Vet School
    Inbound: 3:50 p.m. from Aubles Trailer Park
  • Lansing/ Route 37:
    Outbound: 6:35 a.m. and 9:34 a.m.; 2:30 p.m.; 4:25 p.m.; 5:10 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. from Green St. Station and 7:55 a.m. and 8:38 a.m. from Dairy Bar
    Inbound: 7:14 a.m. from Lansing Fire Station #4; and 8:12 a.m. and 8:53 a.m. from William @ Farrell; 5:11 p.m. and 5:58 p.m. from Lansing Fire Station #4; and 7:23 p.m. from Lansing Town Hall
  • TC3/Dryden/ Route 43:
    Outbound: 6:08 a.m. and 3:05 p.m. from Green St. Station
    Inbound: 6:45 a.m. and 3:55 p.m. from TC3
  • Caroline/ Route 52:
    Outbound: 3:55 p.m. from Green St. Station.
    Inbound: 4:36 p.m. from Caroline Turnaround
  • Newfield/ Route 67:
    Outbound: 7:40 a.m. from Seneca St. Station
    Inbound: 8:10 a.m. from Newfield Central School

Featured image: A tour of TCAT facilities (Kelsey O’Connor/The Ithaca Voice)

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