CAT Mobility Services seeing improvements

CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - A shortage of drivers and tight schedules led to long waits for those relying on Chatham Area Transit's Mobility Transit Service.

CAT's leaders were forced to find a solution when a contractor they used to supplement efforts dropped out of the picture in May. CAT held a meeting Tuesday where the chief operating officer gave a much better outlook for services, outlining progress for board members.

We first told you about the issues last month, and at that point, CAT's Chief Operating Officer Michael Brown told us to check back in 30 days and he'd have results. Brown delivered a much brighter outlook for Mobility Services to the CAT board and rehashed what led to the issues in the first place.

"Schedules were really tight, and when schedules are tight like that, a traffic delay or weather delay or any other delay - a mechanical delay - it throws that particular buss off for the rest of the day," Brown said. "And that was one of the reasons we were getting a lot of complaints about the late pickups because we just didn't have the resources to send someone else out."

Brown says the goal now is to make Mobility Services an internal operation to avoid running into the same problem down the road. That means accelerating training services and bringing new vehicles on board.

"We have 11 on property now in service, and we have another two coming today. We'll get six a week until they're all here - a total of 28, so we're really excited about that as well," Brown said. "If it's internal, we can monitor it better. We're dealing with our employees, our operators in our vehicles that report to our staff, so it's easier for us to monitor the system and to address any issues if it's internal."

The point that lackluster service has driven away registered riders was brought up during Tuesday's board meeting, and CAT officials are hoping to find ways to get those riders back.

"The system is going to be what they're used to having before and even better," Brown said. "I just ask them to come back to us and give us a chance to show them that we appreciate the service that we provide to the community. We take it seriously, and we've made enhancements to make it better than it ever has been before, so come back to us."

There will be a public feedback and information meeting on Sept. 12 at CAT's Intermodal Transit Center.

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