Cherokee Area Transit Service rebrands, launches microtransit service pilot program

Feb. 19, 2024
The new pilot program launched Feb. 15 and replaces fixed route and demand response services.

Cherokee Area Transit Service (CATS) in Canton, Ga., has rebranded and introduced a new microtransit service pilot program.  

A soft rollout of the new microtransit service pilot program began in January. The full launch of the program began Feb. 15. 

“This is a new, more modern approach to public transportation,” said CATS Transit Director Greg Powell. “The traditional fixed route system is being replaced with microtransit, which translates to shorter wait times and a larger service area for our riders. While this is a pilot program to replace the former fixed route system in Canton, the plan is to further expand microtransit to other areas of the county in the future.” 

Previously, CATS offered fixed route and demand response services. Fixed route ran on a standard schedule while demand response allowed for CATS riders to schedule their ride ahead of time. 

The current microtransit service area expanded on the area previously served by the former Canton fixed routes. CATS notes the service area has its northernmost point at the Chattahoochee Tech campus on Bluffs Parkway and extends south to the Holly Springs Walmart at Exit 14. The service area includes downtown Canton, the Laurel Canyon Village shopping center on Reinhardt College Parkway, the Riverstone Parkway area, Northside Hospital Cherokee, Empower Cherokee, the Cherokee County Senior Center, the Cherokee County Health Department and the Cherokee County DFCS office on Univeter Road. 

Fares will remain unchanged from CATS’ October 2023 update. General fare is $2 per person for zero to five miles and an additional $1 for more than 5 miles. Reduced fares, which apply to seniors aged 60 and up, veterans and Medicare/Medicaid cardholders, are $1 per person per trip for up to five miles and an additional $1 for anything more than five miles. Children 15 and under are free. 

Cherokee County partnered with Ecolane USA in September to purchase the software for both microtransit and demand response, which services all of Cherokee County. The CATS microtransit app operates much like private rideshare company models, but for public transit systems. The Board of Commissioners approved the purchase totaling $487,058 over five years. The Federal Transit Administration pays 80 percent and the county pays 20 percent for the first year. For the following four years, the cost is split 50-50. 

The microtransit system gives riders access to the GPS location of their bus. Trip reminder notifications can also be enabled. Additionally, residents can schedule their rides even if the CATS dispatch office is closed for the day. The app is available from the App Store and Google Play store.  

With the launch of microtransit, CATS is getting a new look and an updated name to reflect the operation better. Cherokee County issued a bid for the rebranding project and selected low-bidder M3 Agency for $3,495. 

“We felt CATS needed a new name and look that represents what they do,” said Cherokee County Community Services Agency Director Bryan Reynolds. “We made it a point to keep the beloved cat but the new artwork modernizes the logo. For many years, CATS has commonly been confused with the transportation department that does roadwork so the new name of Cherokee Area Transit Service better reflects the work the CATS team does well daily.” 

During the next several months, riders will begin to see the new look on the CATS fleet and signage.