[IMAGE]Lextran-UK-Cats-Cruiser-2.jpg[/IMAGE]Earlier this month, the Transit Authority of Lexington (LexTran) and the University of Kentucky's (UK) Student Government Association (SGA) announced the Cats Cruiser program, an initiative aimed to support student safety and existing community transportation efforts.
The Cats Cruiser service, designed in collaboration by LexTran and the UK SGA, is available Thursday through Saturday from 9 p.m. until 3 a.m. and consists of four fixed routes, with buses that circulate every 20 to 30 minutes, allowing students and passengers to safely return to campus or surrounding neighborhoods.
UK students can utilize the service for free by presenting a valid UK student ID; with other passengers also able to take advantage of the service for the regular fare of $1.
"The UK SGA looked at some other institutions and saw they had collaborative programs like this already in place, such as the University of Florida's Later Gator," explained Jill Barnett, Lextran's director, community affairs. "Over the past year, the university has really undertaken a lot of safety initiatives and this is just one more thing they are doing to add to that."
The Cats Cruiser service is paid for by fees UK students pay upon enrollment for SGA. Lextran also offers free transit service to UK students through a long standing agreement, added Barnett. The fleet includes vehicles from Startrans - A Supreme Corp. Company and Goshen Coach.
The Cats Cruiser was also designed to work in collaboration with Lextran's Colt Trolley services, which runs during the same late night hours.
"All of these routes actually intersect with the Colt Trolley, so students can get dropped off by the trolley service and get picked up by the Cats Cruiser to get taken back to the further points of campus or where they live in the area around it," said Barnett.
In developing the program, LexTran and SGA both worked with the local neighborhoods associations in the areas to map out routes that would best serve students and passengers of the service and the neighbors in the area. Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government's Town and Gown Committee also reviewed the program and offered their feedback and support.
The Cats Cruiser service launch coincided with the beginning of the spring semester at UK, with the weather dipping down to approximately 24 degrees in Lexington.
"It's really cold now, so we have no idea how this is going to go at all," said Barnett. "For now, our plans are to keep the services available as is, but we have told the SGA we are open to modify of the routes or stops, if necessary."