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Chatham Area Transit Celebrates 30 Years
Posted on January 6, 2017
Chatham Area Transit Authority (CAT) is proud to announce 30 years of service to the Savannah-Chatham County community. Formally established as an Authority in January 1987, CAT continues the long, storied history of transportation in this area dating back to the 1800s and the horse-drawn streetcars of the Skidaway and Seaboard Railway Company.
Evolving from the Savannah Transit Authority, CAT’s name itself expressed our ongoing goal to serve all of Chatham County. In 1987, CAT attacked with all cylinders firing: service was expanded with new routes and additional hours, and the Teleride paratransit service was introduced.
The ‘90s saw significant increases in ridership and lift-equipped buses to expand transportation options and independence for passengers with disabilities. CAT aided in the mandatory evacuation for Hurricane Fran and introduced its website, making it substantially more convenient for customers to access information they needed.
The first decade of the 2000s brought exciting new features to fixed route buses in the form of bicycle racks and a voice annunciation system to indicate major stops along routes. CAT also began operating the Savannah Belles Ferry system, bringing free transportation to the waterways, and purchased its first hybrid buses, demonstrating our commitment to environmental protection and responsibility.
In the last six years, CAT rebranded into the vibrant green you see today, reflecting that dedication to the environment, the active, healthy lifestyle transit promotes, and our growth into a regional mobility manager—no longer being “just a bus company.” We rolled out the CAT Freedom program, a wheelchair accessible taxi partnership designed to provide increased independence and cost-saving options to the community. The long-awaited Joe Murray Rivers, Jr. Intermodal Transit Center opened, sharing a roof with the Savannah Greyhound station, connecting with routes to the Amtrak station and the airport, and immediately becoming a transportation hub worthy of the county seat. CAT Bike, the first transit-owned bike sharing system in Georgia, launched with two downtown stations and received two years of ‘Best of Savannah’ awards, and paratransit customers welcomed the convenience of automatic scheduling confirmation calls. Renovations to the Operations & Maintenance Facility on Gwinnett Street prompted a renaming of it to “CAT Central,” and the first super stop at the Oglethorpe Mall opened with amenities to help customers wait, make transfers, and purchase passes more comfortably and conveniently.
Just last year CAT celebrated some major funding victories, receiving awards totaling more than $15 million dollars, which will be used for fleet replacement and the purchase of new electric buses, and CAT plans to continue to celebrate this year with an anniversary attitude of great appreciation to the community. Public transportation has been proven to be the backbone of an area’s economic growth, and CAT takes that honor and responsibility very seriously. CAT is dedicated to keeping the residents and visitors to Chatham County connected to the people and places they love and hopes everyone will join in our 30th anniversary celebration. Thank you for catching a CAT for the past thirty years! We hope you do so for many more!