By Charlie Rutkowski

March 5, 2019

Working to Develop Public Transit Options

On Jan. 22, my travels took me to Tupelo, Mississippi, along with CTAA colleague Andrew Carpenter and Toyota representative Riley Keen. CTAA has been working with Toyota over the past two years to develop public transit options in Tupelo. Toyota has an assembly plant in nearby Blue Springs, Mississippi, and began the transit initiative in Tupelo to demonstrate its continuing commitment to the community. The Tupelo Transit service began operating in September, 2018, providing fixed route and demand responsive throughout the City of Tupelo. CTAA and Toyota are now assessing the social and economic impact of the service. During the January visit, we met with Jeremy Hare of Northeastern Mississippi Community Services to gather ridership and financial data on the new service. We also met with Tupelo City Manager Don Lewis and City Planner Pat Falkner for additional operating data and an update on marketing and promotional activities. CTAA is providing the operational information and data to a consultant team of AECOM and LSC for further analysis and quantification of the service’s economic and social impact in the community.

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From Tupelo, I went on to visit the Catawba Indian Nation near Rock Hill, South Carolina on Jan. 23. CTAA developed a transit plan for the Catawba Nation in 2010, which led to establishment of the Tribe’s Catawba Transit Service. This work was supported through the USDA Tribal Passenger Transportation Technical Assistance Program. I met with Elizabeth Harris, who is currently the Tribal Administrator, and Suzanne Skaryak, the Catawba Transit Manager. CTAA worked with Harris in developing the transit plan when she was the Tribal Planner. We discussed and reviewed the growth of the demand responsive service over the past eight years, and its role in linking tribal members to the services and jobs in nearby Rock Hill. Rock Hill is now considering establishing its own public transportation program which will coordinate its services with Catawba Transit.

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The Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) and its members believe that mobility is a basic human right. From work and education to life-sustaining health care and human services programs to shopping and visiting with family and friends, mobility directly impacts quality of life.