GREATER ATTLEBORO TAUNTON REGIONAL TRANSIT AUTHORITY
The Greater Attleboro Taunton Regional Transit Authority (GATRA) serves 26 communities in the southeastern area of Massachusetts, bordering northeastern Rhode Island. GATRA's service area is large and diverse, covering small cities, suburban, and rural communities. GATRA provides fixed-route service in 16 of these communities and demand-response service to all. In addition, GATRA partners with several local Councils on Aging (COAs) to provide service to seniors. GATRA also serves as the broker for Human Service Transportation in southeastern MA.
GATRA provides four types of services:
- Local routes
- Commuter rail Shuttles
- ADA complementary paratransit
In total, GATRA service is comprised of 24 fixed-routes, six commuter shuttles, community-wide Dial-A-Ride, and ADA complementary paratransit service. Many routes connect in Taunton, Attleboro, and Plymouth.
Local services generally operate from 6:00 am to 6:30 pm Monday through Friday, and from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm on Saturday. There is no service on Sundays and most major holidays. Commuter rail shuttles are timed to arrive at MBTA stations about 10 minutes before the train departs for Boston in the morning, and depart almost immediately after the trains arrive in the evening going outbound. Complementary ADA paratransit operates within 3/4 mile of fixed-route during the same hours as local fixed-route service. Community-wide Dial-A-Ride service, available in areas that do not have fixed-route service, operates Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm with no service on Saturday or Sunday. Passengers who are eligible for ADA complementary paratransit area also eligible for Dial-A-Ride service.
The majority of GATRA routes connect at either the Taunton GATRA Terminal, the downtown Attleboro GATRA Shelter, or at Memorial Hall in Plymouth. Connections to regional services from these hubs and other locations are available:
- GATRA provides shuttle service to several MBTA commuter rail stations: Forge Park, Mansfield, Hanson, Attleboro, and Lakeville.
- Commuter bus services are available via Bloom, Plymouth & Brockton Street Railway Co. (P&B), and DATTCO. Bloom picks up at the Taunton Bus Terminal, at Friendly's in Taunton, and in Raynham, and drops in Boston by South Station and on Stuart Street. P&B offers service between Exit 5 in Plymouth to South Station in Boston. DATTCO picks up at the Taunton Galleria Mall and drops at Boston's South Station.
The current MassDOT South Coast Rail Project has a preferred corridor alignment that will bring commuter rail service to Taunton. The recommended route would include three new commuter rail stations in the GATRA area: one in Raynham and two in Taunton.
GATRA owns and operates a central bus depot in Taunton which is where its administrative and maintenance facility is located. GATRA also manages the MBTA's Mansfield and Attleboro commuter rail stations.
GATRA's basic fare structure is as follows:
- Local fixed-route service: $1.00 (Route #18: Attleboro-Taunton is $2.00)
- Commuter rail shuttles: $1.00
- ADA complementary paratransit: $1.25 (trips beyond boundaries of neighboring communities are $2.50)
GATRA offers a variety of discounts for fixed-route service, including a half-fare for senior citizens, registered riders with disabilities, Medicare cardholders, and students through high school. Transfers are $0.50 (within one town only) and $0.25 for half-fare riders. Passes are also available for full-fare and half-fare riders for one day, three days, ten rides, and one month. A 10-ride pass is available for ADA complementary paratransit service. Finally, Wheaton college students ride for free on Route 140 between Wheaton College and the Mansfield MBTA Commuter Rail station.
In 2010, GATRA carried nearly one million passengers. Approximately 77% of these passengers used fixed-route services and the remainder used demand-responsive. As of 2010, GATRA carried the eighth highest volume of riders among Massachusetts RTAs, and provides the fifth highest amount of service (in terms of vehicle hours).
2010 FLEET SIZE
In 2010, GATRA had 50 vehicles for fixed-route service and 62 vehicles for demand-responsive service. Compared to other RTAs, GATRA has the fifth largest fixed-route fleet, and the fourth largest demand-responsive fleet (behind PVTA, MART, and WRTA).
2010 OPERATING EXPENSES AND FARE REVENUES
In 2010, GATRA's total operating expenses were $11.4 million. Of this, 59% was for fixed-route service and 41% was for demand-responsive service. GATRA's operating costs were the sixth highest among RTAs, just above average.
Fare revenue covers approximately 16% of GATRA's 2010 operating expenses. By type of service, fare revenues cover 24% of fixed-route costs but only 5% of demand-responsive costs. GATRA collects the fourth highest amount of fare revenue among RTAs and falls about average for farebox return ratio.
EFFECTIVENESS AND TRENDS1
Over the past 10 years, GATRA's overall ridership has decreased on fixed-route service, and remained relatively stable on demand-response service. Over the same period, fixed-route service levels have decreased for fixed-route (but not as substantially as ridership) and demand-response service levels have increased.
Between 2001 and 2010, total ridership declined by 15% from 1.1 million to 975,000 passengers per year. On fixed-route service, ridership declined between 2001 and 2006, but has been increasing since that time. Demand-responsive ridership declined for most of the decade, but then increased between 2008 and 2010 due to the expansion of service to new communities.
Revenue Vehicle Hours
The total amount of service that GATRA has provided decreased between 2001 and 2006. However, recent increases in service have brought vehicle hours of service back above 2001 levels. By type of service, the number of fixed-route hours declined by 10% the last 10 years, while demand-response hours have increased by 33%. Nearly all of the demand-response increases have been over the past few years due to the expansion of Dial-A-Ride service to new communities.
Operating Costs and Fare Revenue
Between 2001 and 2010, GATRA's operating costs increased from $7 million to $11.4 million. This represents an increase of 64% over 10 years, or an average of 6% per year. By type of service, fixed-route costs increased by 52% and demand-responsive costs increased by 85%.
Overall, fare revenues were flat, as a 4% decline in fixed-route fare revenue was generally offset by a 62% increase in demand-response revenues.
Operating Cost per Passenger
Between 2001 and 2010, GATRA's operating cost per passenger for fixed-route service increased from $4.81 to $8.90, or by 85%. GATRA's operating cost per passenger for demand-responsive service has also increased significantly, from $11.19 to $21.28, or by 90%. GATRA's 2010 operating cost per passenger is the fourth highest of all RTAs.
Passengers per Revenue Vehicle Hour
On fixed-route service, declines in ridership have been greater than decreases in service, and thus ridership per revenue vehicle hour has decreased by 9.3% from 9.6 to 8.7. On demand-response service, total ridership declined between 2001 and 2010 in spite of service increases, and ridership per hour declined by 24% from 2.9 to 2.2.
Operating Cost per Revenue Vehicle Hour
GATRA's operating costs per vehicle hour have increased significantly between 2001 and 2010. For fixed-route services, costs have increased by 68% from $46.03 to $77.38. For demand-response service, costs have increased by 40% from $32.91 to $45.93 in 2010. However, in spite of these increases, GATRA's cost structure is low, and the third lowest among RTAs.
KEY FACTS/NOTABLE INITIATIVES
- Unlike many other RTAs, GATRA does not have a central hub for service and has a very large service area with diverse service needs.
- In 2001 GATRA provided more fixed-route service than demand-response service (55% to 45% in terms of vehicle hours). Now, GATRA provides more demand-response service than fixed-route service. This change has been due to the recent addition of new communities where only demand-response service is provided.
- In 2010, GATRA had the third lowest operating cost per service hour among RTAs (only higher than CCRTA and FRTA).
- GATRA hosts GCAC, the GATRA Consumer Advisory Committee, which is comprised of individuals who provide an open forum for general consumer and ADA related issues for GATRA fixed-route and demand-responsive services. GCAC meets quarterly, with specialized monthly subcommittee meetings. GCAC's mailing list is about 200 people and organizations.
- GATRA conducted a Comprehensive Service Analysis in 2008.
- GATRA's recent service improvements include route consolidation in Plymouth, including the introduction of a new deviated route service, and a new shuttle service in Pembroke.