September 27, 2021

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CATA: Routes suspended, frequencies changed due to staff shortages

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CATA announced Monday it will temporarily suspend and reduce service frequency on a number of bus routes, starting as early as next week.

CATA announced Monday it will temporarily suspend and reduce service frequency on a number of bus routes, starting as early as next week.

Centre Daily Times, file

Citing “severe staffing shortages,” the Centre Area Transportation Authority (CATA) announced Monday it will temporarily suspend several bus routes starting next week while reducing the service frequency of others next month.

According to a news release, the suspended routes include Route F (Pine Grove), Route G (Gray’s Woods) and Route S (Science Park). Those changes will be effective next Monday, along with service on Route K (Cato Park) ending at 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Other frequency reductions are set to begin Oct. 4. They include Route P (Boalsburg), whose service will end about 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday; and Routes N, R, V, W and HM, which will drop to hourly Monday through Saturday after 7 p.m.

Adjusted timetables will be available as they are finalized at catabus.com.

“Similar to many businesses locally and across the country, we are experiencing unprecedented staffing shortages,” CATA CEO and executive director Louwana Oliva said in a written statement. “CATA currently finds itself in the situation of not having enough employees to cover scheduled transportation service. We have all hands on deck, and everyone with a CDL is being asked to get behind the wheel, but staffing is too thin to handle any type of absence that may arise.

“If this continues, in some cases our only option will be to cancel bus trips on the spot, leading to service reliability issues.”

According to CATA, “most” of the service that was previously suspended due to the pandemic has been reinstated. But due to new ridership levels and mid-day trends — which have left some riders on the curb when the buses become full — some services can’t meet demands while others are experiencing low usage.

“While we understand that everyone’s bus service is important, we need to make difficult decisions to shift available staffing resources away from low ridership routes and times of day to meet overall demand and serve the most people,” Oliva added. “The result is these temporary service changes while we continue to work on bus driver recruitment.”

According to CATA’s website, bus operators are paid $19.29 per hour the first year — although 40 hours a week is not initially guaranteed. By the end of Year 2, the hourly rate increases to $24.12. Paid training is provided, and those interested can apply online at catabus.com/careers.

Those affected by the aforementioned service changes can call CATA’s Customer Service Center at 814-238-2282 to discuss transportation needs and possible alternatives.

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Josh Moyer earned his B.A. in journalism from Penn State and his M.S. from Columbia. He’s been involved in sports and news writing for nearly 20 years. He counts the best athlete he’s ever seen as Tecmo Super Bowl’s Bo Jackson.

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