By Riley James
Meridian Times Staff Reporter
Imagine living without a form of transportation. Many people in Meridian Township rely on the CATA bus system to get them to and from destinations within the town.
“[Without the CATA bus system] we would have a couple of different types of problems,” said Julie Brixie, treasurer and CATA board member of Meridian Township. “One would be that traffic congestion would be remarkably higher than it is today.
[Secondly,] I believe that some of our bigger employers in the area, including Meridian Mall and Meijer, would have difficulty getting some of their employees to work, and they might have a harder time filling some of the positions that they have.
“And thirdly, I think our merchants would really suffer dramatic loss in sales because CATA brings people to the township who are shopping.”
CATA has a few bus routes that run through Meridian Township throughout the day.
“There are six buses dedicated to Meridian Township: two fixed-route buses on Routes 22 and 23 and four Meridian redi-ride buses. Then, Route 1 travels throughout Meridian Township at nine minute frequencies most of the day,” said Debbie Alexander, the assistant executive director at CATA.
Route 1 is responsible for dropping and picking up people at both the Meridian Mall and Meijer—two popular destinations in Meridian Township.
“Each year CATA deposits 220,000 people at Meijer and Meridian Mall. So those are two really big destinations for the Number 1 Route,” said Brixie.
But there are also a lot of other people that use CATA for other destinations.
“The number of times people get off fixed-route buses in Meridian Township is about 47,300 per month, and the number of times people get on fixed-route buses in Meridian Township each month is about 45,000. We don’t keep track of how many individual people use CATA, only the number of times people ride CATA,” said Alexander.
According to Alexander, 28 percent of Meridian Township’s community use CATA, but CATA also brings people from outside of Meridian Township for work, shopping, medical appointments, school, and other destinations.
CATA began in 1972, and according to their website, they gave 11,432,364 passenger rides in 2015.
“It’s a pretty integral part of transportation—not just in Meridian Township, but in the entire Lansing region,” said Brixie.