The Carroll Area Transit System is expanding its services to Taneytown with a fixed route from Westminster to the northwestern city, starting tomorrow.
The new CATS route is viewed as helpful to those who do not drive, need to go to Westminster for medical appointments and Taneytown seniors, including residents of the Carroll Vista adult retirement community.
"Taneytown is a fixed route with two purposes: to be more efficient, with stops in Westminster and Taneytown, and it will be cheaper, because we hope our volume will be higher," said Neal Roop, CATS president and chief executive officer.
The fixed route also will offer savings for riders. Previously, if a resident called for a CATS bus, the fee was $2 for every five miles or $6 from Taneytown to Westminster, Roop said.
The fee for the fixed route will be $2 for each one-way trip, starting March 1.
CATS will provide the Taneytown shuttle free through next month to give people time to get used to the new route, Roop noted.
"We have enough calls [from Taneytown] to merit the new route," Roop said. "We hope people will take it even if they have a vehicle because you can't run your car from Taneytown to Westminster for $2."
The CATS bus will make regular stops in Taneytown at these locations: three sites along Baltimore Street, two stops off Grand Drive, Carroll Vista at Del Webb retirement community, Taneytown Shopping Center and Baumgardner Avenue and Roberts Mill Road.
The route's Westminster stops are: Wal-Mart, TownMall of Westminster, Kohl's, 412 Malcolm Drive (behind the 140 Village Shopping Center), Washington Heights Medical Center, Carroll Hospital Center complex, Carroll County Health Department and 10 Distillery Drive (social services building).
Although the route has regular stops, if someone needs to go somewhere else "not too far off the beaten route," the bus will take them there, Roop said.
CATS also worked with the city of Taneytown and Carroll Vista to establish the route, Roop said. A survey was done to find out people's preferences, and the city is helping to promote the new route.
Nancy McCormick, Taneytown's economic director, said the city needed the CATS route for several reasons.
"It's something that we've seen that we needed with Carroll Vista," McCormick said. "It's important to use because of the increased traffic and some people don't really want to drive to Westminster, and it's cost-effective."
She said the regular route will be a help to senior adults, those who do not drive or have transportation and people with medical problems who have doctor appointments. It also will be a boost to the city's business base.
"It's going to provide another nice amenity for the people who live out here," McCormick said.
CATS and Carroll Vista officials also are hoping to get traffic for the bus route from the residents, ages 55 and older, of the retirement community. Carroll Vista, about half-built, has 250 units that are completed and mostly occupied, said Mary Margaret Payne, the community's lifestyle director.
"Even the people that are on the younger end of the spectrum are saying they can go places on CATS," Payne said. "There's a sense of community here. People hang out together, so it will be more of a social thing for them."
Payne said she uses CATS buses for group trips to museums, dinner theaters and other social outings. "CATS is wonderful to deal with."
CATS runs weekdays to any location in the county, with other fixed routes to South Carroll and Eldersburg, Roop said. To help handle the new Taneytown route, three new buses are on order and are expected to come in within six to 12 months.
"Any resident of Carroll County is eligible to use our service," Roop said. "We do not screen for age, disability or trip type or anything."
Information on CATS' services: 410-857-0080.