State, federal and local taxpayers help chip in for CATA services

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By Chris Hung
The Meridian Times Staff Reporter

Riders get aboard a CATA bus during a snowstorm. Photo by Chris Hung.

Riders get aboard a CATA bus during a snowstorm. Photo by Chris Hung.

The Meridian Township Treasurer’s Office spends just about 6 percent of money received from taxpayers on the Capital Area Transportation Authority. In comparison, about 4 percent is spent on their police force.

“Voters [in Meridian Township] have approved the tax support for public transit,” said Julie Brixie, who is a member of the CATA board of directors and the township’s treasurer. “CATA receives subsidies from both the state and federal government as well.”

While taxpayers in Meridian Township are also paying for CATA’s bills, a large sum of the funding is actually paid for by the state and federal government in the form of subsidies, explained Brixie. More revenue comes from the state government, accounting for approximately a quarter of CATA’s revenues in 2015.

Allocation of the average taxpayer's dollars. Graphic courtesy of Meridian Township Treasurer's Office.

Allocation of the average taxpayer’s dollars. Graphic courtesy of Meridian Township’s Treasurer Office.

The public transportation system offers many bus routes, spanning across the Greater Lansing area, including Michigan State University’s campus and downtown Lansing itself. Since its creation over 40 years ago, CATA has now become an integral part of Meridian Township’s public transportation.

“Almost anything negative I have to say about CATA has nothing to do with the service itself,” said Ariel Rogers, a regular CATA rider. “The buses never broke down, weren’t dirty, and for the most part, the drivers were helpful and pleasant.”

From Meridian locals to MSU students, CATA offers the most popular public transportation in the area.

As part of Meridian Township’s ongoing efforts
to become a more environmentally friendly community, measures are in place to limit the harmful pollutants that such large vehicles, like buses, can produce.

“In 2006, CATA was the first agency in the state of Michigan to introduce hybrid [buses] to its fleet,” CATA’s Director of Marketing, Laurie Robison said. “Particulate filters [on the buses] remove 90 percent to 95 percent of particulate matter before the exhaust leaves the tailpipe.”

Though the CATA fleet of “Clean Machines” still run on about 1,000,000 gallons of diesel a year, the fuel used is very low in sulfur, generating 20 percent less emission than standard diesel, explained Robison. All of CATA’s new large bus acquisitions will also run on hybrid engines.

The very busses that operate in the Greater Lansing area are are not only environmentally friendly, but economically friendly as well. According to the American Public Transportation Association, every dollar invested in public transportation like CATA, could bring in up to $4 in economic returns.

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