CAT’s proposed TSPLOST list details an 11.5 million plan for upgrades

Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 5:17 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 24, 2023 at 5:50 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Chatham Area Transit leaders are getting a head start at planning for extra funding that could come their way.

You may remember Chatham County voters said no to the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax or TSPLOST in November.

Although the sales tax meant to help transportation projects failed, CAT officials are hoping it ends up on ballots in the future. CAT leaders have a list of things that TSPLOST funds would really help them with getting about a dozen more electrical buses.

CAT’s proposed Transportation Special Purpose Options Sales Tax project list details an $11.5 million price tag for things like bus replacements, electric charging stations, and micro transit electric vehicles for mobility services.

The list also says they need $10 million to make operations run smoother.

CAT, like many public transit systems, have been experiencing a bus driver shortage.

The CEO Fay DiMassimo spoke with WTOC while she was in Atlanta talking with lawmakers about getting more funds another project. She says they have raised the starting pay for drivers with money factored into their budget. DiMassimo says they could still use the support of TSPLOST though.

“Opportunities that can also help support those operations that also make the capital projects perform the way they need to perform in the community are fewer,” DiMassimo said. “So, we’re very excited to think about how a TSPLOST could help compliment in that way as well.”

CAT has had to change their bus routes because of the driver shortage. Meanwhile, DiMassimo says they are working on bringing in more drivers.

“We have been bringing in new operators every month.”

In September, CAT officials said they were down 31 fixed route drivers and 18 mobility bus drivers. Now, their vacancies have gone up. There are 45 fixed route and 14 mobility bus driver openings.

“We have a support contract with the Department of Labor and they are helping us in the recruitment within the state. We’re doing all of the things that you need to do to reach out to every part of the community and to be competitive with what we offer.”

They are hosting weekly job fairs every Friday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.