Chattanooga will celebrate the 50th anniversary of CARTA, the Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority, the centerpiece of our city’s mobility infrastructure and a pioneer in transit innovation.
For half a century, Chattanooga’s transit system has moved the city’s citizens and visitors efficiently and cost effectively. After a difficult period during the COVID-19 pandemic, when passenger counts were down across all forms of transportation, CARTA ridership was up significantly in 2022, with more than 1.6 million trips taken aboard our fleet of 96 transit vehicles, a 90,000-trip increase from the previous year.
Our team of 215 dedicated staff are working every day to ensure that our customers can count on the timely arrival of our buses, friendly drivers, clean interiors and prompt delivery to their destination. We are excited to celebrate our staff at an awards banquet on Jan. 29, which will follow a week of celebrations. Chattanoogans can be proud of the committed members of the CARTA team.
There are many things that CARTA is celebrating as we turn 50:
We are expanding our electric fleet.
CARTA was one of the first systems in the region to introduce electric vehicles to our fleet 31 years ago. Today transit systems across the country are following CARTA’s lead, and we are expanding as well – not only offering our all-electric shuttle system free of charge from the Choo Choo to the Tennessee Aquarium to the North Shore and St. Elmo communities, but currently bringing electric vehicles into our larger, fixed-route system.
We operate our paratransit service-Care-A-Van (CAV).
CAV provides door to door service to our elderly and disabled citizens, they provide over 50,000 trips per year and run on the same schedule as the fixed route service. They take our customers to doctor’s appointments, dialysis, shopping or anywhere they need to go.
We operate the nation’s steepest inclined railway.
The Lookout Mountain Incline Railway is the steepest incline railway system in the nation, and a major tourist attraction for our region. The thrill of riding “America’s most amazing mile” has been a Chattanooga institution for more than a century, and CARTA takes pride in the safety and professionalism we have brought to The Incline.
We manage Chattanooga Parking Authority.
When Chattanooga needed help organizing its parking system the city asked CARTA to step-up. As a result, our agency currently has responsibility for operations, maintenance, and enforcement of the Chattanooga Parking Authority, which help fund the downtown shuttle operation.
We continue to implement new tech solutions.
When Chattanoogans ride the bus, they gain access to a rider alert system via their smart phone that keeps them up to date on any changes to schedules or delays that could affect their commute. CARTA is also implementing an on-demand, micro-transit system-CARTAGO that will allow riders to schedule their rides and pay for them directly using an app.
Our system features eight Park-And-Ride Locations.
One of the most successful transit strategies being implemented today in growing cities around the country are park-and-ride systems that allow commuters to drive to a convenient location, then transfer to a transit vehicle for the final leg of their journey into the city-center. With eight park-and-ride locations, Chattanooga is ahead of the curve in utilizing this creative approach.
We’re ready for the future.
Many transit systems are almost entirely subsidized by the metropolitan areas they serve. CARTA is proud that more than 40 percent of its revenue is generated from its operations, and that number is down from 47 percent pre-Covid.
Many of our citizens absolutely depend on CARTA for their mobility, and many more choose it rather than fight the increasingly congested traffic in this growing city. This service – for all citizens – will only become more important in the future, as we continue to attract new residents.
Chattanoogans can feel confident that the city’s transit system, which has served us well for half-a-century, is poised to grow with Chattanooga and innovate into the future with new services that will make transit an even greater option for the next 50 years and beyond.