The Capital Area Transit Authority (CATA) is the largest public transit provider in the tri-county area around Lansing, Michigan. The tri-county area consists of Ingham, Clinton, and Eaton counties. CATA has been operating public transportation in the mid-Michigan area since 1972 and has been twice named the best transit system of its size in North America by the American Public Transportation Association.
Ridership grew steadily during the 1970s, before leveling off during the 1980s and most of the 1990s. During the 1980s and 1990s, the number of rides fluctuated around 3-4 million annually. In 1999, CATA took over the Michigan State University bus service. Since then ridership has increased nearly 3-fold. In contrast, the population of the tri-county area grew by 22.6% from 1970 to 2010.
In 2013, CATA set a fourth consecutive yearly record for number of rides. By 2014, however, ridership was down overall despite seeing increased ridership on its Michigan State University routes and increased requests for its paratransit services. In the fourth quarter of 2014, gasoline prices fell which could account for the decreased ridership. Gasoline prices remained low in 2016. Bus ridership both nationally and locally continued to decline in 2016. According to the American Public Transporation Association, nationally bus ridership dropped by almost 3 percent in 2016. CATA saw a ridership decline of 4.6 percent overall that same year. However, CATA saw ridership on its Michigan State University and some of its Redi-Ride and paratransit routes increase by double-digits in 2016.
Today’s market size represents the number of rides annually on CATA vehicles in 1972 and 2016.
Geographic reference: Lansing, Michigan area
Year: 1972 and 2016
Market size: Less than 1 million rides and 10.9 million rides respectively
Sources: “Ridership Mirrors National Trend”, CATA 2017 Community Report, June 2017, page 4; “National Trend Leaves Its Mark on Ridership,” CATA 2016 Community Report, June 2016, page 3; “Ridership Trends Vary by Service Type”, CATA 2015 Community Report: Where Public Transportation Goes Community Grows, June 2015, page 3; “Passenger Trips Reflect Stable Demand”, CATA 2014 Community Report: Moving You Forward With Pride, June 2014, page 3; “Growth in Ridership Remains Strong”, CATA 2013 Community Report: Moving You Toward Your Dreams, June 2013, page 4; “Riding High with Record Ridership,” CATA 2012 Community Report 40th Anniversary Edition: Greater Lansing on the Move, August 2012; “CATA Demand Grows with Community Need,” CATA 2011 Community Report: Greater Lansing on the Move, August 2011; Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, “Tri-County Regional Growth: Choices for Our Future,” Draft Report, August 2002 available online here; “Ingham County, Michigan” available online here; “Clinton County, Michigan” available online here; and “Eaton County, Michigan” available online here.