Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland said he has heard good comments about the bus system.
“Someone said it’s getting crowded and you need more buses because we’re having to stand,” the mayor said. “That’s a good problem.”
Cleveland Urban Area Transit System Assistant Director Robert Varnell said the Southeast Tennessee Human Resource Agency provides rural transportation for a 10-county region while Cleveland Urban Area Transit System is confined to the city urban area boundary and 100 percent of the trips stay inside that boundary.
“Cleveland Urban Area Transit System provides transportation to area residents through two primary services,” he said. “The fixed route service follows designed routes throughout the city, while the paratransit service provides door-to-door transportation throughout the urban area.”
Paratransit made more than 10,000 trips between July and December 2012. That does not mean 10,000 different people rode the bus, because some riders make multiple trips to medical appointments.
Varnell said ridership has increased each year of the 8-year-old bus system’s existence. Bus service began in July 2005.
Some of the possible changes he expects to announce in May include lengthening some routes; for safety, measures for having right turns when possible and left turns when needed; and using thoroughfares capable of handling the buses.
“We’re trying to aim more on our pickups and drop-offs. We’ve done a lot of studies and there are areas where we’re not getting a lot of service and figuring out why,” he said. “The routes won’t deviate that much, but there may be a different way to go that’s close by.”
CUATS officials are looking at an additional route to the east side of Cleveland, bus stops and shelters.
Rowland said train historian Tom Rock is looking for a retail display case for railroad memorabilia in the CUATS central office, which was formerly the old Southern Railways Depot. The depot was built between 1908 and 1910 at a total cost of $18,900.
Rowland said several presidents visited the depot including Rutherford B. Hayes, Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and Franklin D. Roosevelt; and first ladies Mrs. William Harrison and Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt. President Franklin D. Roosevelt traveled through Cleveland on three occasions, twice in one day, on his way to dedicating Chickamauga Dam and Norris Dam.
Rail passenger service in Cleveland ended Aug. 11, 1970. After that, the depot stood empty until it was completely restored by Tri-Con Construction Co. in keeping with requirements to keep the building on the National Register of Historic Places.
The building at 165 Edwards St. S.E., reopened in June 2012 as the CUATS office and main transfer point after an extensive renovation project. The federal government contributed $443,000 in the form of a transportation enhancement grant, $367,000 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds and a local match from Southeast Tennessee Human Resources Services Agency of $133,000.