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CATA Profile

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The Cape Ann Transportation Authority (CATA) serves the Cape Ann communities of Gloucester, Rockport, Ipswich, and Essex. Most service converges in Gloucester, and is provided on weekdays and Saturdays.

CATA is also the human service transportation (HST) broker for Region 6.


CATA provides several types of services:

  • Local fixed-route service
  • Seasonal trolley and fixed-route service
  • Dial-a-Ride senior transportation
  • ADA complementary paratransit
  • Health Link Service
  • Beverly Circulator Route
CATA Regional Map

Most CATA service operates Monday through Saturday; operating times and frequencies vary widely, with service beginning after 6:00 am and ending by 7:00 pm on weekdays and Saturdays. Many routes operate only during select periods of the day, including the peak AM and PM periods.

Some of CATA's services are seasonal, operating only during peak summer periods only. These include a Cruiseship Trolley route, the Ipswich-Essex route, the Stage Fort Park Shuttle, and the Rockport loop route.

CATA also operates a local circulator shuttle route under contract for the City of Beverly. The route operates Monday through Friday between 7:45 am and 5:45 pm and Saturdays between 7:00 am and 4:30 pm, and has a different fare structure than other CATA services.

ADA complementary paratransit services are available in Rockport and Gloucester only, and operate from 6:00 am to 7:00 pm Monday through Friday and from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm on Saturday. Additionally, CATA provides demand response service for seniors aged 60 and over in Gloucester, Rockport, Essex, and Ipswich. The service operates Monday through Friday between 7:30 am and 4:30 pm.

CATA operates a growing Health Link service under a MassDOT grant which provides connections to MGH East, Beverly Dialysis, the Lahey Clinic in Danvers and Beverly Hospital.


Most CATA routes serve one of the MBTA commuter rail stations along the MBTA's Newburyport/Rockport Commuter Rail Line, including Rockport, Gloucester, and West Gloucester. Additionally, one of CATA's Yellow Line routes connects Gloucester with Peabody and Danvers.


As described, CATA serves several stations on the MBTA Newburyport/Rockport Commuter Rail Line These facilities are owned and operated by the MBTA. The Cape Ann Transportation Authority owns the office, operations and maintenance building that houses CATA and the Cape Ann Transportation Operating Company (CATOC) in an industrial park in Gloucester.


CATA has several fare types for its services:

  • Local fixed-route: Gloucester: $1.00 / Rockport: $1.25
  • Local fixed-route: Danvers and Peabody Malls: $3.00 one-way, $5.00 roundtrip
  • Stage Fort Park Shuttle: $1.00 / $3.00 day pass
  • Beverly Circulator Route: $0.50
  • ADA complementary paratransit: $1.00 per community
  • Senior Dial-a-Ride: $1.00 voluntary donation

A variety of discounts are provided for fixed-route services. These include a 50% discount for people aged 60 or over, disabled riders, and those with a Medicare card, and free service for accompanied children under 5. Student annual and semester passes are offered, as well as an annual pass that allows students to ride on an unlimited basis or for a discounted $0.50 per ride. A monthly pass for the Beverly Circulator Route is available for $8.00.

Transfers are free between most lines. However, no transfers may be made for free between the Green and Orange Line routes to other routes.


2010 Annual Ridership

In 2010, CATA carried just fewer than 240,000 passengers. 205,000 passengers (or 86%) used fixed-route services, while the remainder used demand-responsive service. In total, CATA carried the third lowest volume of riders among Massachusetts RTAs, more than only FRTA and NRTA. CATA provides the second lowest amount of service in terms of revenue vehicle hours, more than only NRTA.


In 2010, CATA had 18 vehicles for fixed-route service and 10 vehicles for demand-responsive service. Among all Massachusetts RTAs, CATA had the second smallest fixed-route fleet and the third smallest demand-responsive fleet.


In 2010, CATA's total operating expenses were $2.5 million. Of this, $1.6 million or 67% was for fixed-route service, and 33% was for demand-responsive service. CATA's operating costs are the third lowest among RTAs.

Fare revenue covered approximately 8% of CATA's 2010 operating expenses. By type of service, fare revenues cover 3% of paratransit costs and 10% of fixed-route service costs. CATA collects the lowest amount of fare revenue among RTAs, and has the lowest farebox return ratio.


Between 2001 and 2003, ridership on CATA's fixed-route services dropped by more than a quarter, which has impacted productivity and service levels.


Ridership Trends

Between 2001 and 2010, total ridership decreased from 410,000 to 240,000 passengers per year, or by 42%. Overall ridership declined by approximately one-quarter from 2001 to 2003, and has either declined or remained steady since that time. Loss in ridership was nearly all on fixed-route services; ridership on demand-responsive services has remained relatively steady between 33,000 and 42,000 riders each year.

Revenue Vehicle Hours

Vehicle Service Hour Trends

Since 2001, the total amount of service that CATA has provided, in terms of revenue vehicle hours, has declined by 19%. From 2001, revenue hours on fixed-route services dropped by 22%, and revenue hours on demand-responsive services dropped by 13%.

Operating Costs and Fare Revenue

Operating Cost and Farebox Revenue

CATA's operating costs increased from $1.9 million in 2001 to $2.4 million in 2010. This represents an increase of 25% over 10 years, or an average of 3% per year. This comparatively low growth in costs is partially accounted for by the 19% reduction in service hours, but is nonetheless low considering other industry cost increases such as fuel and health insurance.

From 2001 to 2010, in spite of ridership declining by almost half, farebox revenues increased from $160,000 to $190,000 - an increase of 8%. As previously noted, CATA has the lowest farebox revenue among all RTAs.

Operating Cost per Passenger

Operating Cost per Passenger Trends

Between 2001 and 2010, CATA's operating cost per passenger for fixed-route service increased from $3.70 to $7.87, or by 113%. CATA has the Sixth highest cost per passenger for fixed-route service among RTAs.

CATA's operating cost per passenger for demand responsive service increased to a lesser extent, from $13.94 to $23.94, or by 72%. CATA's demand-responsive operating cost per passenger is seventh highest among RTAs. Overall, CATA's operating cost per total passenger grew from $4.68 in 2000 to $10.11 in 2010, and is now the sixth highest of all RTAs.

Passengers per Revenue Vehicle Hour

Passengers per Revenue Vehicle Hour Trends

Between 2001 and 2010, CATA's total number of passengers carried per passenger hour varied widely, ranging from 8.4 to 11.8. This is primarily due to fluctuations in productivity on fixed-route service, where the rate has varied from 11.5 to 16.4 passengers per hour. Productivity on demand-responsive service varied less, from 2.4 to 3.4 passengers per hour. Productivity dropped between 2001 and 2003, when ridership dropped by almost a quarter, and although it has recovered somewhat since that time, it has not recovered to the same levels as prior to the decline. In total, CATA is seventh lowest among RTAs in terms of passengers per revenue hour.

Operating Cost per Revenue Vehicle Hour

Operating Cost per Revenue Vehicle Hour Trends

Between 2001 and 2010, CATA's operating cost per revenue vehicle hour for all services increased by an average of 5.2% per year. In that time, the cost for demand-responsive service increased from $45.33 to $74.68, or by 65%. Increases in demand-responsive service were generally very small until 2008, when the price jumped by 46%, rising from $50.96 to $74.44. The operating cost per hour for fixed-route services also increased between 2001 and 2010, rising from $60.69 to $90.82, or by 50%.

CATA's operating cost per hour for fixed-route service is sixth highest among RTAs, but its cost for demand-responsive service is second highest among RTAs. CATA's cost for demand-responsive service is lower only than VTA, and significantly more expensive than the majority of RTAs. Thus, CATA also has the third highest overall operating cost per revenue hour.


  • CATA serves as the HST broker for its service area, plus additional communities outside the CATA service area.
  • CATA provides extended holiday and summer season services.
  • CATA provides "tripper" service for Gloucester schools.
  • CATA recently implemented a new computer system for paratransit scheduling and dispatch, and is investigating the feasibility of smart card fare payment.
  • CATOC, a private company, has been the operating provider since 1988.
1All cost and revenue data is presented in actual year values. Costs and fare revenues for 2001 are in $2001; operating costs and fare revenues for 2010 are in $2010.
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