Cornell and TCAT reach new deal to increase annual volume discount payments

July 7, 2015 by Rachel Cera

Cornell University and Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit (TCAT) issued a joint statement this morning, saying they've signed a "memorandum of understanding" that formalizes Cornell's volume discount payment structure for the next three years.

Frank Proto, TCAT chairman and a former Tompkins County legislator, says "TCAT's success depends on the ability to cover costs by collecting adequate fares, as well as on federal, state, and local funding."

Under the new agreement, Cornell's annual "bulk fare" payment, which covers bus service for faculty, staff, and some students, will increase from 2.6 million dollars by $250,000 in Cornell's 2016 fiscal year, which began last week. It will go up $375,000 in FY17, and $500,000 in FY18. Cornell also makes separate annual payments to TCAT to cover operations and capital expenses, as do the City of Ithaca and Tompkins County.

"This transportation is an essential service to our students, faculty, and staff, as well as the greater Ithaca and Tompkins County community," said Joel Malina, Cornell vice president for university relations. He says, with this agreement, "We are making clear our ongoing commitment to TCAT's long-term viability."

TCAT is a non-profit corporation established as a joint effort by Cornell University, Tompkins County, and the City of Ithaca to provide public transportation for Tompkins County. Annual ridership on the fleet of about fifty buses, including eight hybrid electric-diesel buses, is nearly 4.3 million, covering a distance of 1.6 million miles, today's statement says.

The fare increase comes not long after TCAT cut some of its service to Cornell's campus, though, eliminating stops at B Lot, a parking lot on the southeast edge of campus that many staff members use. Some staff say the service cuts make it difficult for them to get to their workplace on campus after parking in the periphery lots.

The new memorandum of understanding also includes a pledge to begin negotiations next year for the payment schedule beyond 2018. That memorandum is to be signed during 2017.

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