Marianas Variety

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    Wednesday, December 19, 2018-8:20:43P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Transit authority to expand its services

THE Commonwealth Office of Transit Authority will expand its services to address the various needs of the community, Alfreda P. Camacho, special assistant for public transportation, told the Rotary Club of Saipan on Tuesday.

At present, she said COTA is providing the call-a-ride service and a fixed-route bus system.

Alfreda P. Camacho, special assistant for public transportation, talks about public transportation services during the Rotary Club of Saipan’s weekly meeting, Tuesday, at Giovanni’s Restaurant of Hyatt Regency Saipan. Photo by Junhan B. Todiño

“This is a pilot project right now, and what we do is to gauge the demand, and find out what doesn’t work,” she said, referring to the bus system.

Call-a-ride is a reservation-based, curb-to-curb and door-to-door service offered to anyone anywhere on island while the fixed-route bus service covers Northern Marianas College, Middle Road, the Commonwealth Health Center and Garapan, Camacho said.

COTA uses a seven-seat and one-wheelchair transit van for call-a-ride, and a low-floor medium-duty 22-passenger bus, fully ADA accessible with a wheelchair ramp and two wheelchairs for the fixed-route bus service, she added.

For call-a-ride, “even if we are unable to accommodate you at a particular time, we will never deny you a ride — we will always offer you another time-frame. We are an alternative form of transportation,” Camacho said.

At present, she said they are transporting call-a-ride passengers to shopping centers, healthcare facilities, community events, places of employment and other sites.

Camacho said they will continue to reach out the community and explain the concept of COTA’s services.

“We are working on a marketing campaign,” she said, adding that some of their partners like the Marianas Visitors Authority are helping with COTA’s marketing efforts.

Funding is another challenge, Camacho said. At present, she added, 96.3 percent of their funds are provided by the federal government while the rest comes from the CNMI government.

Camacho told Rotarians it is COTA’s mission to provide residents with a reliable, safe, and cost-effective public transit system in order to reduce energy consumption, strengthen cultural values, and contribute to the islands’ economic development.

“Our vision is that transportation should always be the link, and never the barrier, to accessing training, employment, childcare, and other destinations,” she added.

She said COTA wants to be recognized as the premier island-wide public transit provider committed to safety, courtesy, quality, responsiveness, efficiency and innovation.