Grant keeps CATS moving around Clovis

Jack King

The Clovis Area Transit System (CATS) will be getting a new administration/customer service facility and some new buses thanks to a $1.6 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration, said CATS director Mary Lou Kemp.
Kemp said the city hopes to break ground on the new facility, which will be located on Seventh Street, between Axtell and Wallace streets, on the former site of Eugene Fields School.
The building will include a new CATS administration office, a customer service area and parking sheds for CATS vehicles, she said.
Cost of the project is estimated to be $2 million and will require a $400,000 match from the city, most of which will be represented by the land provided, she said.
The grant also will fund the purchase of new, mid-sized city buses, to replace some of the vans CATS now uses, but Kemp said the final cost of the new building will determine how many buses the city can purchase.
CATS now operates with 12 vehicles, a mixture of mid-sized buses, called “mid-buses,” and vans, she said.
The city bus system uses a “demand-response” system that provides curb-to-curb service. This means a customer can call CATS, be picked up by a vehicle and be delivered to his or her destination, Kemp said.
The system operates from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. Fares are 75 cents each way.
“Our fares are low compared to other systems,” Kemp said.
But, Kemp said CATS has received a number of requests to provide fixed-route service, the type of service customers usually associate with a city bus system. She said in the near future she hopes to obtain a grant to fund a study of whether fixed-route service is practical in Clovis.
“There are a number of fixed-route types of plans, so it wouldn’t have to be the traditional type of system, where buses run up and down a street,” she said.
She added that all three of the city’s Congressional representatives, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., and Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., were instrumental in getting the federal grant for Clovis.
“We actually received word from the FTA we were eligible three years ago. We’ve been submitting pieces (of the grant application) for three years. It was finalized in early September,” Kemp said.