Times-News file photo.
KINGSPORT — The third time’s a charm for the Kingsport Area Transit Service.
For three years in a row, KATS has experienced a record number of riders on its fixed route bus service, the most in its history with slightly more than 161,000 passengers using the buses to travel throughout the Model City.
KATS — now in its 19th year — operates six fixed bus routes Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. throughout the Model City, from Target to Walmart, the Kingsport Town Center, the downtown and Meadowview areas of town. KATS also has a Dial-A-Ride service for seniors and people with medical conditions, along with a partnership with NET Trans to provide connector service between downtown Kingsport, Colonial Heights and Johnson City.
For the 2012-2013 fiscal year, KATS had 149,440 riders on its fixed route service and 11,854 on its Dial-A-Ride service, with a total number of riders at 161,294. KATS’ budget year is on the same time frame as the federal government — from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.
KATS’ fixed route service grew 8.6 percent over the past year, while Dial-A-Ride saw a 6.4 percent drop in usage. Total ridership grew 7.3 percent during 2013. In 2012, KATS’ fixed route ridership experienced a 19 percent increase in usage, Dial-A-Ride a 5.8 percent decrease while total ridership grew 16.4 percent.
Transit Director Gary Taylor attributes the increase in ridership to KATS’ expanded service over the past couple of years, its marketing efforts and the fact students get to the ride the buses for free. Another reason is because some people have switched from the Dial-A-Ride service to the fixed route service.
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