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KATS working to improve services

May 11th, 2012 8:47 am by Staff Report

KATS working to improve services

The Kingsport Area Transit Service (KATS) provides transportation for people traveling most anywhere within Kingsport.

By Marsha Salley

With the price of gasoline hovering near $4 a gallon, conserving fuel is on everyone's mind.

One of the most significant ways individuals can minimize gas consumption is to hop on a bus. The Kingsport Area Transit Service, or KATS for short, provides transportation for people traveling most anywhere within Kingsport, according to Transportation Coordinator Jack Qualls.

"Kingsport's mass transit program was started in 1995," Qualls said. "People use the bus now not just to get to work but for shopping, recreation - they're using it for life," he says.

In addition to mass transit, KATS also offers ADA/Paratransit services for individuals with a disability. It's a customized door-to-door service for people in wheelchairs or who have other disabilities that otherwise would have no other way to get around.

"It's literally a life-changing service for people," Qualls said.

Whether paratransit or mass transit, KATS is committed to providing value to its customers.

All students ride for free, along with anyone under the age of 18. For those ages 18 to 64, the one-way fare is $1 for any route KATS drives, while those 65 and older pay only 50 cents, according to Qualls. A monthly pass is only $15, which offers unlimited rides all month long.

"More and more students are taking advantage of the cost-saving of riding the bus. Recently we added bike racks so a customer can ride their bike to a destination and, if they get tired or just don't want to bike farther, they can take the bus and load their bike on the rack to get back home," Qualls said.

KATS has recently added new routes to its services so patrons can travel to Colonial Heights. They can also connect with Johnson City Transit (JCT) system through a partnership with NET Trans, a rural transportation provider. Additionally, KATS is preparing to install a program to its website that tracks where any bus is at any given time. It will allow customers to plug in their destination and be given the shortest itinerary.

"We are always looking at how to improve services," Qualls said of the Kingsport Transit System. "We offer this service... we just want more and more people to use it and to let go of their steering wheel."

Offices for the Kingsport Area Transit System are located at 109 Clay Street in Kingsport. The phone number is 423-224-2613 and the website address is

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