[IMAGE]CATA-Loop-Bus-full.jpg[/IMAGE]The Centre Area Transportation Authority (CATA) of State College, Pa., in partnership with the Pennsylvania State University (Penn State), has extended its White Loop service until 4:30 a.m. each weekend night during the Spring Semester.
The White Loop, one of four fare-free circulator routes operated by CATA on behalf of Penn State, links the campus with downtown State College, major concentrations of student housing, and the fraternity district. For years the route has run until 2:30 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Late last year, however, the undergraduate student government made the request for later Loop hours to provide safe transportation service to those students who are out later than buses would normally be on the street.
In response, CATA and Penn State negotiated a trial extension of weekend Whie Loop hours, with buses running every 8 to 10 minutes until approximately 4:30 a.m. The additional service is funded in large part by student activity fees allocated to the program by student government. Also, Student Ambassadors ride the late night buses, not as police officers, but as monitors to discourage unacceptable behavior and to remind riders that such behavior could result in the service being terminated.
So far, the service has proved to be very popular: an average of nearly 500 riders are being transported after 2:30 a.m. each weekend night. It’s also extremely productive, with well over 100 boardings per hour, says CATA Marketing Manager, Jacqueline Sheader.
The trial began on Friday, January 15, and will continue through the end of the semester. At the end of the trial period, a decision will be made to either continue the trial, incorporate the trial into regular CATA service or end the program altogether. Metrics that will be considered include ridership during the extended hours, instances of inappropriate rider behavior, and feedback received from riders and others, as well as any increases in alcohol-related incidents, criminal reports or arrests.