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McGraw Tower, Cornell UniversityMay 22, 2009

McGraw Tower, Cornell University
May 22, 2009

Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit is jointly owned by Cornell University, the City of Ithaca, and Tompkins County. Originally, TCAT was three separate systems, but in the late 1990s, the three systems were combined into one system with a common fare structure, bus stop signage, and fleet. Today, TCAT operates a total of 40 bus routes that serve Ithaca Commons, Lansing, Cayuga Heights, Trumansburg, Dryden, Groton, Newfield, Enfield, Ithaca College, and Cornell University, among other areas. Six routes provide daytime circulator service within Cornell’s campus, two are “blue light” routes for Cornell, and a seasonal route that operates between Ithaca Commons, Buttermilk State Park, Cass Park, and Taughannock State Park in the summer. Formerly, one route operated to Newark Valley in Tioga County, and another route operated to Watkins Glen and Odessa in Schuyler County. Many routes have Saturday service and some routes have Sunday and late night service. Today, TCAT carries over 4 million trips each year

The TCAT bus fleet consists of about 52 buses that are owned and operated by TCAT. The paratransit contractor, GADABOUT, uses 26 buses for its service. The TCAT fleet consists of Orion Is, Orion VIIs, NovaBUS LFSs, New Flyer D40LFs, Gillig Advantages (both diesel and hybrid powered), and a Chance Trolleybus. Some of the Orion Is were originally operated in Utica, NY.

In addition to TCAT’s services in Tompkins County, both Tioga County and Chemung County operate their bus routes in to Tompkins County, serving both Ithaca Commons and the Cornell University campus. These service are almost all exclusively rush hour services scheduled to bring workers from Tioga and Chemung Counties to Cornell in the morning, and return them home in the evening.

Finally, Cornell University contracts the operation of an express bus service, called Campus-to-Campus from the Cornell campus in Ithaca to the Cornell Club and Cornell Medical College in New York City to Caz Limo, Incorporated of Syracuse. The service is operated with two luxury Prevost motorcoaches that feature 2×1 seating, a galley, hot and cold running water, XM sattelite radio, and wireless internet access. Campus-to-Campus operates at least two round trips a day, seven days a week with stops in Ithaca on North Campus, the Statler Hotel, and Oxley Equestrian Center. The New York City stops are at the Cornell Club on East 44th Street between Fifth and Madison, and at the medical college on York Avenue at 68th Street. A one way trip takes as little as four hours.

TCAT Orion I Buses

TCAT has had Orion Is in its fleet for many years and was likely the last operator of an Orion I in the United States. The final TCAT Orion I was retired in 2016 after 25 years of service with Tomtran and TCAT.


TCAT operated five NovaBUS RTS buses from 1996 until about 2006.


The NovaBUS LFSs were TCAT's first 40 foot buses.

TCAT New Flyer D40LF Buses

TCAT's New Flyer D40LF buses were a mainstay on the system's busiest routes for over 15 years. As of 2017, they are being retired gradually as new buses come in.

TCAT Gillig Advantage & Gillig Advantage/HEV Buses

TCAT ordered from Gillig for the first time in 2006 and the system's first hybrids were also made by Gillig

TCAT Chance TrolleyBus

The TCAT trolley was ordered to operate on Route 10, the Commons-Cornell Shuttle. It was originally CNG powered but converted to diesel due to the lack of a CNG refueling facility at the TCAT garage (the bus drove out to a nearby CNG refueling station each time it needed gas). In 2014, it was sold to the Chemung County Chamber of Commerce for use on the Mark Twain Country trolley tours in Elmira and Chemung County.

TCAT Owned Cutaway Buses

TCAT acquired its cutaway fleet in conjunction with bringing several rural routes that were contracted to another operator "in house." The cutaways are sometimes referred to as "T-Kittens."

Tioga Transport, Inc.

Tioga Transport, Inc. operated six rural routes for TCAT prior to the end of September 2008. After TCAT took its rural routes "in house", it continued to operate buses for neighboring Tioga County until November 30, 2014, when the system was shut down by the Tioga County Government due to low ridership and a lack of funding.

Chemung County Transit

Transit service between Ithaca and Chemung County, operated by First Transit

Campus to Campus

Cornell University's express bus service between Ithaca and New York City