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 2015. Nationally, according to the American Public Transportation Association, total passenger trips declined by 3.5 percent from October 2015 to December 2015. CATA reported a 1 percent decline in ridership in 2015 relative to the close of 2014.
Today’s market size represents the number of rides annually on CATA vehicles in 1972 and 2015.
Geographic reference: Lansing, Michigan area
Year: 1972 and 2015
Market size: Less than 1 million rides and 11.43 million rides respectively
Sources: “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.