The Commonwealth Office of Transit Authority has acquired four new vehicles to beef up its public transport services.
COTA said the new vehicles are all “mobility equipped vans” that will replace the vans currently in service that are over 13 years old.
“By investing in new rolling stock, COTA is able to provide better options for moving around our island,” said newly appointed transport chief Alfreda Camacho.
The total cost of the purchase is $283,980 through a grant from the Federal Transit Administration.
“The people of the CNMI deserve modern and reliable transportation services that support the quality of life and economic vitality of the islands,” Camacho added.
Acting governor Ralph DLG. Torres said the modern vehicles would provide everyone—including students, working individuals, people with disabilities, and visitors—access to public transportation around our communities.”
“This is part of the administration’s goal to reduce traffic, fossil fuel consumption, and to provide readily accessible public transportation,” he said.
COTA reported that as of April, its Call-A-Ride Saipan ridership totaled 9,696 and is steadily increasing. The ADA paratransit service fare for riders with disabilities, senior citizens (55+), and children at age 5 is $3 one way. Children below 4 years old are free.
As of December 2013, CARS expanded and opened its ADA paratransit service to include the general public for a $5 one-way fare. Any individual may call CARS in advance to reserve a ride the next day or up to seven days of scheduled ride.
CARS operation is from 6am to 9pm. Monday through Friday and from 6a to 6pm.
In an earlier interview, Vince C. Merfalen, COTA mobility management and transit coordinator, said an even bigger public transport program is currently being developed—10 buses, each with a capacity of 20 to 30, plying seven routes across Saipan.
He said the project is expected to start in two year’s time, if funding will be made available.