Chatham Area Transit on Monday had a sweet celebration of the latest milestone in the organization’s history.
In recognition of its 30th year of service to the Savannah and Chatham County community, CAT employees handed out hot chocolate and cookies to passengers awaiting buses on the platform at the Joe Murray Rivers Jr. Intermodal Transit Center. During the year to come, CAT plans to continue to celebrate its 30 years in the community by holding contests and special promotions for its supporters.
“Public transportation has been proven to be the backbone of an area’s economic growth, and CAT takes that honor and responsibility very seriously,” the agency announced. “CAT is dedicated to keeping the residents and visitors to Chatham County connected to the people and places they love and hopes everyone will join in our 30th anniversary celebration.”
When it formed as an authority in 1987, CAT represented a shift from the Savannah Transit Authority, the agency said in a press release. The change signaled the system’s commitment to serving all of Chatham County with additional routes, hours and services — including the Teleride paratransit service.
Over the course of the 1990s, the agency reported even more growth in ridership and transportation options for its disabled passengers. In addition, CAT during the 1990s assisted with the evacuation from Hurricane Fran and launched its official website.
In the early 2000s, CAT added bike racks, hybrid vehicles and voice annunciation systems to its fleet. The Savannah Belles Ferry system, a free mode of transportation that links downtown Savannah with Hutchinson Island, also began during that decade.
Even more has unfolded for CAT since 2010. Just in the last six years, CAT has begun to re-brand from the older red buses to the vibrant green more commonly seen on the streets today. This change, CAT officials say, reflects the agency’s “dedication to the environment, the active, healthy lifestyle transit promotes, and our growth into a regional mobility manager.”
In 2013, CAT dedicated the intermodal transit center downtown, which connects riders to services from Savannah Greyhound, Amtrak routes and the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport.
CAT also launched the bike sharing program, CAT Bike, and constructed its first super stop at the Oglethorpe Mall during the past few years.
In 2016, CAT was the recipient of state and federal grant awards that will be used to purchase new buses, including some electric ones, for the system’s fleet. The transit agency once again assisted in hurricane evacuation last year, this time for Hurricane Matthew in October. CAT closed out 2016 with the news that Curtis Kolber was appointed to steer CAT into the future as the agency’s new CEO and executive director.
“We hope to have more than 30 more years of this transportation system,” said CAT Board Chairman Pete Liakakis. “We’ve got terrific transportation services, (and) we’re going to make it even better.”