Responding to a growing demand for public transportation, the Commonwealth Office of Transit Authority has expanded not just its days of operation but also its fleet.
COTA is now open on Sundays and holidays and has acquired four additional vans, boosting its fleet to a total of 11 vehicles.
Alfreda P. Camacho, special assistant for public transportation, said these changes are in response to their ridership data that were collected through a transportation tracking system called Routematch Software.
“We realized a steady increase each month amounting to a 55% overall increase in our ridership by the end of December 2019. Additional transit vehicles were definitely a need for COTA in order to keep up with our daily reservations,” Camacho added.
That’s what prompted COTA to acquire four more vans. COTA started out with four vans in July 2015. In less than five years, it more than doubled its fleet, bringing it to a total of 11 transit vehicles—eight of which are ADA mobility equipped vans and three buses.
“Rather than wait until this new year to acquire additional fleet, we began the procurement process in the first quarter of 2019. Earlier this month, we successfully received four ADA mobility equipped vans,” Camacho said.
The additional vans were funded through two federal grants: the Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration and the Department of the Interior’s Technical Assistance Program, for a total of $399,980.
“The additional fleet has been such a blessing for both COTA and the community. We are delighted to be a part of transporting our community to their places of employment, doctor’s appointments, the Northern Marianas College, leisure activities,” said Camacho. “…The additional fleet will further improve accessibility and mobility on the island.”
COTA is also working on a solicitation for the supply and installation of pre-fabricated, typhoon proof solar-powered bus shelters on Saipan, and the acquisition of additional medium-built ADA buses and van, which would include a van each for Tinian and Rota.
“Our team at COTA believes in the importance of public transportation and continues to place our best foot forward every single day to ensure that the goals and objectives of the Transit Authority are executed and remain in line with the Torres-Palacios administration’s overall priorities for the CNMI,” Camacho said. “It is our every intention to continue to apply for federal grants, strengthen our current partnerships with both the public and private sector while expanding this new agency to ensure sustainability and reliability for the community we serve.”