Support for Mass Transit

Supporting the local mass transit system is a critical part of reducing Cornell's transportation footprint...

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Support for Mass Transit is a Leadership goal in the Cornell Climate Action Plan (CAP).

Develop and implement comprehensive strategies to support mass transit in Tompkins County and increase ridership.

Goal: Support Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit, Inc. (TCAT) to reduce impacts of Cornell commuter travel.

Reducing transportation energy demand and shifting to non-fossil energy sources will require long-term, concerted effort. In the short-term, Cornell will continue to focus its attention on mass transit system improvements. As TCAT’s largest customer, accounting for roughly 71% of annual ridership, Cornell wields significant influence as a major proponent of mass transit in Tompkins County. Supporting the local mass transit system is Cornell’s single largest transportation initiative.

TCAT is a not-for-profit corporation that provides public transportation for Tompkins County. TCAT’s annual ridership is more than 4 million and its routes cover a distance of about 1.6 million miles. TCAT’s fleet of approximately 55 buses currently includes 8 hybrid electric-diesel buses. TCAT also offers complementary ADA Paratransit services called Gadabout. In 2011, TCAT was recognized as the nation’s “Outstanding Public Transportation System” in the 1-4M ride category by the American Public Transportation Association. For more information about TCAT, visit

The three TCAT partners—Tompkins County, the City of Ithaca, and Cornell University—allocate operational funding for TCAT, each currently contributing about $900,000 annually. Cornell makes an estimated annual contribution of $3.5M to TCAT: roughly $900,000 in operating funds plus $2.6M in bulk fares to fund the OmniRide program. The three partners split budget deficits and capital acquisitions three ways.

Next Steps

  • Continue operations and management role with TCAT.


Continuation of the OmniRide program depends on adequate fares and partner contributions to meet TCAT’s operating and capital expenses.