Overview of the Cape Ann Transportation Authority

This section describes the makeup and responsibilities of the Cape Ann Transportation Authority.

Table of Contents

Regional Transit Authorities

Chapter 161B of the Massachusetts General Laws established regional transit authorities (RTAs) to provide a public transportation system under the control of municipalities. Each RTA supports a number of communities (member communities) and is governed by an advisory board composed of the chief elected officials from those communities. Chapter 161B of the General Laws gives the Commonwealth certain oversight responsibilities, and it defines the process by which RTAs may be formed or expanded within the Commonwealth, as well as the duties, powers, and limitations of these RTAs. This law also outlines the membership of RTA advisory boards and their authority to appoint administrators, approve budgets, and approve significant changes in service fares. Currently, there is a network of 15 RTAs (12 urban and 3 rural) operating in the Commonwealth, in addition to the transit services provided by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). These RTAs serve a total of 262 cities, suburban municipalities, and rural communities outside the greater Boston area and provide transportation via buses and minibuses operated by private transit service companies. RTAs, which are locally controlled, manage their own operations but must hire private operating companies to provide their services in accordance with Chapter 161B of the General Laws.

Section 53 of Chapter 6C of the General Laws makes the Rail and Transit Division (RTD) of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation “responsible for overseeing, coordinating and planning all transit and rail matters throughout the commonwealth,” including intercity buses, the MBTA, and RTAs. RTD carries out its responsibility of providing and managing financial assistance for RTAs through its Community Transit Program Unit, which oversees the federal, state, and local programs that financially support RTAs. State appropriations for the 15 RTAs increased from approximately $70 million in fiscal year 2014 to approximately $80 million in fiscal years 2016 through 2018.

The Cape Ann Transportation Authority

The Cape Ann Transportation Authority (CATA) was established on September 4, 1974 and reports to RTD under Chapter 25 of the Acts of 2009, “An Act Modernizing the Transportation Systems of the Commonwealth.” According to its website, for over 40 years, “CATA has served citizens and tourists of Cape Ann and the North Shore, and continues to save money and protect the environment by maintaining the quality and practicality of public transportation.” An administrator is responsible for day-to-day administration of the agency, which had five full-time and five part-time staff members during our audit period. CATA’s operations are overseen by an advisory board made up of one member from each of the four communities1 the agency serves. The advisory board is responsible for hiring an administrator, setting fares, establishing service levels, and authorizing real-estate purchases. CATA manages its own fixed-route and demand-response2 transportation services, including maintenance and administrative functions.

In fiscal years 2016 and 2017, CATA received revenue from a variety of sources, including fares from riders and assistance from various federal, state, and local sources. The largest source of funding is brokerage service income,3 followed by state contract assistance,4 local assessment5 payments, and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) grants. The table below shows the types of funding CATA received during the audit period.

CATA Operating Funding Sources

Type of Funding

Fiscal Year 2016

Fiscal Year 2017

Brokerage Service Income*

$14,248,872

$15,840,952

State Contract Assistance

1,347,622

1,347,622

Local Assessments

485,477

546,394

Federal Grants

290,319

187,868

Fare Revenue

185,451

182,875

Other Transit Services

174,587

178,589

Other Income

107,735

106,169

Total

$16,840,063

$18,390,469

*    Brokerage service expenses are usually fully reimbursed by the Commonwealth’s Human Service Transportation Office.

†    Other income includes advertising income and reimbursements.

 

During our audit period, CATA’s operating costs were as follows.

CATA Operating Expenses

Type of Expense

Fiscal Year 2016

Fiscal Year 2017

Transit Services

$16,297,870

$17,907,645

Maintenance

411,428

360,784

General and Administrative Expenses

114,585

101,532

Depreciation

549,750

662,930

Total

$17,373,633

$19,032,891

During our audit period, CATA received capital grants from the US Department of Transportation and the Commonwealth to be used for various purposes connected with the modernization and expansion of transportation services. Those grants totaled $838,766 for fiscal year 2016 and $1,349,061 for fiscal year 2017.

CATA Capital Fund Expenditures

Type of Expenditure

Fiscal Year 2016

Fiscal Year 2017

Building Improvements

$37,500

$0

Transit Equipment

756,180

1,235,028

Service Vehicles

37,406

50,472

Furniture and Fixtures

15,267

32,232

Total

$846,353

$1,317,732

Vehicle Fleet and Service Route Area

CATA operates local fixed-route and demand-response services within the 80-square-mile Gloucester area, serving a population of more than 54,000. It operates a network of seven local transit routes, one commuter route, and three seasonal services. The local fixed-route service operates six days a week; weekday service runs from as early as 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and Saturday service runs from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Buses and minibuses provide transit services to the vast majority of CATA passengers, and its vanpool provides paratransit services. The table below shows the number of revenue-producing and non-revenue-producing vehicles6 used at CATA during fiscal years 2016 and 2017.

Number of CATA Vehicles

Vehicle Type

Fiscal Year 2016

Fiscal Year 2017

Revenue-Producing

45

37

Non-Revenue-Producing

2

5

Total

47

42

Vehicle Maintenance

CATA operates its administrative office and a maintenance facility in an approximately 45,033-square-foot building in Gloucester; roughly 10,652 square feet of that building generates rental income for CATA. At the end of our audit period, CATA had a total of 42 vehicles in its fleet. The table below shows the types, average ages, and total mileage of the vehicles in CATA’s fleet during the audit period.

CATA Vehicle Fleet Average Age

Make and Model

Vehicle Type

Vehicle Count

Average Age (Years)

Total Mileage

Ford ElDorado

Bus

2

5.00

31,724

Gillig Low Floor

Bus

6

3.17

188,098

Ford E450

Minibus

4

0.75

35,429

Ford E350

Minibus

5

6.00

100,977

Ford Cutaway

Van

12

6.58

276,508

American Heritage

Trolley

2

15.00

14,786

International HCCB

Bus

6

1.00

176,589

Chevrolet Silverado

Truck

2

12.00

1,243

Chevrolet Malibu

Sedan

1

7.00

18,069

Nova RTS

Bus

7

18.14

49,958

Chevrolet Equinox

SUV

2

0

3,473

Total

 

49*

 

896,854

*    This total includes all vehicles that received maintenance work during the audit period, including ones that were purchased and/or disposed of during that time.

 

The table below shows CATA’s maintenance expenses for the audit period.

CATA Maintenance Expenses

Expenses

Fiscal Year 2016

Fiscal Year 2017

Salaries

$232,343

$198,006

Parts and Equipment

49,561

40,982

Insurance

129,524

121,796

Total

$411,428*

$360,784

*    Discrepancy in total is due to rounding.

 

FTA requires all RTAs to report to it any information related to their transit vehicle inventories or maintenance and repairs that they conduct. At the time of our audit, CATA was using a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to document all of its vehicle assets and maintenance performed and report this information to FTA.

CATA Community Programs

To assist elderly community residents and those with disabilities, CATA provides Dial-a-Ride7 service and arranges transportation with subcontracted transportation providers. CATA also has seasonal services and offers its two oldest working trolleys to Gloucester community programs and parades.

1.    The communities are Essex, Ipswich, Rockport, and Gloucester.

2.    Demand-response transportation services are those that run on a flexible schedule and flexible routes based on the needs of RTA passengers with special needs.

3.    This is revenue from the Human Service Transportation Program, under which CATA coordinates with human-service agencies to provide their clients with transportation services.

4.    Under Section 23 of Chapter 161B of the General Laws, the Commonwealth, through the Executive Office for Administration and Finance, can contract with an RTA to fund 50% of the net cost of the service the RTA provides. Known as state contract assistance, this funding is provided through the Commonwealth Transportation Fund and the Massachusetts Transportation Trust Fund.

5.    Under Section 9 of Chapter 161B of the General Laws, annual local assessment payments are adjusted based on the “loss” (operating cost minus revenue) for each specific transit route and the activity and the share of that loss attributable to each town or city.

6.    Non-revenue-producing vehicles are light-duty vehicles for temporary use by CATA employees for agency-related business.

7.    According to CATA’s website, “CATA’s Dial-a-Ride service is a door to door service for persons who are over 60 years of age, and for adults (over 18 years of age) who have a physical, mental or cognitive disability.”

Date published: November 2, 2018
Feedback