The Centre Area Transportation Authority will make several mid-year route adjustments as it deals with the impacts of a nationwide bus driver shortage.

Six routes will see changes to frequencies or stops beginning Jan. 8: the College Avenue Connector, Atherton Street Connector, NE Martin Street Express, VE Vairo Express, HU Toftrees/University Terrace and Red Link.

“The current nationwide operator shortage poses a challenge, but it also provides an opportunity for CATA to optimize its services and become more efficient,” the authority wrote in a news release on Tuesday. “CATAGo microtransit service offers additional travel options for this optimization.”

The number of public bus drivers nationwide has declined since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, with many aging workers retiring and others seeking higher paying private-sector jobs as transit systems experience difficulty hiring and retaining employees, according to Bloomberg.

Informational sessions about the upcoming CATA changes will be held during the week of Dec. 11 at three locations. Each session will be from noon to 1 p.m.

Monday, Dec. 11 — Ferguson Township Municipal Building auditorium, 3147 Research Drive

Thursday, Dec. 14 — State College Municipal Building, room 241, 243 S. Allen St.

Friday, Dec. 15 — Patton Township Municipal Building, board meeting room, 100 Patton Plaza

Here’s a look at each of the planned changes going into effect in January. More details and maps can be found here.

The College Avenue Connector route will not operate west of Butz Street. Buses will be available all day Monday through Sunday, however, running between State College and Nittany Mall. Headway time will improve to 30 minutes all day, meaning riders will see more frequent service. Scheduled departures from the Nittany Mall are 7 a.m. to midnight Monday through Friday and 8:30 a.m. to midnight Saturday and Sunday.

The CATAGo Centre Area West Zone offers alternative transportation to riders in the affected section. The on-demand service is available 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays. Riders have the option to transfer between CATAGo service and College Connector buses at a new temporary stop at South Butz Streetnear Haus Apartments, 914 W. College Ave., or they can make connections at Research Drive (RC), Northland Center (N/W) and other locations.

• The Atherton Connector route frequency will be reduced from every 26 minutes to every 40 minutes. To alleviate patron confusion at North Atherton Place, the boarding arrangements will be altered to match the V route. Downtown-bound will stop at Walmart and Colonnade-bound will stop at McDonald’s. With a reversal of service pattern in the area, the Waddle Road at Oakwood Avenue stop will be replaced by a stop across the street.

The VE route will only serve inbound stops on Vairo Boulevard and will not stop at any outbound stops. Riders should use the adjacent inbound stops for all boarding and disembarking. A temporary stop has been set up on Waddle Road near The Bryn as an alternative disembarking location. Service frequency remains unchanged at every 20 minutes, and during midday, the VE frequency will improve from 40 minutes to 30 minutes.

During the morning rush and midday before 2:30 p.m. on Aaron Drive, Park Lane and Park Forest Avenue, the NE route will only serve the inbound stops. During the afternoon rush hours after 3:30 pm, the NE route will only serve the outbound stops on those roads. No changes to stop assignments or service patterns are planned on Martin Street. NE route frequencies will remain the same at every 20 minutes and will improve during midday from 40 to 30 minutes.

The HU route will no longer operate on Bellaire Avenue to University Terrace. It also will not serve any stops on College Avenue, Beaver Avenue, Burrowes Road or Atherton Street. Alternative transportation will be provided by the fare-free Blue and White Loop services and the H route at those stops. The HU route will continue to serve The Station and The View in Toftrees with an improved frequency of 18 minutes.

On the Penn State campus, the route will first stop at Pattee Transit Center and then serve only the outbound stops on Curtin Road to the Athletic Administration Building.

Red Link frequency on campus will be reduced to every 18 minutes when the full-service schedule is in effect, a change made in consultation with the university, according to CATA. No change to frequency is planned on weekends or during reduced service periods.

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