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Under Arizona Revised Statutes - Title 28 Transportation, an intergovernmental public transportation authority (IPTA) may be organized in any county in Arizona with a population of two hundred thousand persons or less.
The Yuma County Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority (YCIPTA) is an IPTA that was formed on December 13, 2010 by the Yuma County Board of Supervisors to administer, plan, operate and maintain public transit services throughout Yuma County, including within the political jurisdictional boundaries of the Cities of Yuma, San Luis, Somerton, Town of Wellton and the unincorporated Yuma County areas.
On September 21, 2010, the Town of Wellton and City of Somerton passed a resolution to petition the County to form the IPTA. On October 3 and 20, 2010 respectively, the Cities of San Luis and Yuma passed a resolution to petition the County to form the IPTA. On December 6, 2010, Northern Arizona University petitioned the County to join the IPTA. On December 13, 2010, the County held a public hearing and approved the formation of the IPTA. On January 24, 2011, the Yuma County Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority (YCIPTA) held its first Board of Directors meeting.
On August 16, 2011, Arizona Western College petitioned YCIPTA to become the seventh member agency of the IPTA and was approved on August 28, 2011.
On October 17, 2011, Cocopah Indian Tribe petitioned YCIPTA to become the eighth member agency of the IPTA and was approved on October 28, 2011.
On April 12, 2012, Quechan Indian Tribe petitioned YCIPTA to become the ninth member agency of the IPTA and was approved on April 23, 2012.
YMPO, as of July 1, 2012, transferred the ownership and operation of the transit system to YCIPTA. A resolution was passed by the YMPO Executive Board on August 11, 2011 with the intent to transition transit operations to YCIPTA in the future. A transfer of services and assets agreement was signed by the YMPO Executive Director and YCIPTA Transit Director on June 26, 2012.
Besides the YCIPTA, the Coconino and Yavapai Counties; the City of Flagstaff, and Northern Arizona University formed the Northern Arizona Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority (NAIPTA) to assume public transit services from the City of Flagstaff and Coconino County to unify and coordinate public transit services in that region.
Since February 2000, the Yuma County Area Transit (YCAT) system has grown from a new transit service offering paratransit to the current mix of fixed-route and demand-responsive services serving over 35,000 passenger trips per month, with an annual operating budget of $3.1 million.
Before 2000, only private transportation companies operated any type of transit service in Yuma County, with taxis serving the urbanized areas and private van services providing transportation between San Luis and Yuma. Transit in Yuma County began in February 2000, as Greater Yuma Area Dial-A-Ride operated by Saguaro Foundation funded by YMPO. In November 2000, YMPO's fixed-route service began with service between San Luis and Yuma under the name Valley Transit Route 15. and service to Yuma, AWC and Foothills in October 2001 as Route 13.
The name YCAT or Yuma County Area Transit was adopted in July 2002, with a new system of two routes, a local route within Yuma and an intercity route between San Luis and Yuma/Arizona Western College starting in October 2002. The routes met at Southgate Mall. YCAT service between Yuma and Foothills while it was initiated in October 2001, the ridership was not considered high enough to justify the cost, and the route was shortened to terminate at Arizona Western College.
After a detailed review of the transit system by Moore and Associates, as well as financial and operating difficulties in 2003 which nearly caused the fixed-route transit system to shutdown, the City of Yuma and other member jurisdictions in Yuma County contributed additional funding to the transit system. YMPO selected a new operating contractor in March 2003, which was Saguaro Foundation and service survived under a two route structure - Yuma to San Luis and Yuma to AWC with routes meeting at Walmart on Pacific Avenue. Cocopah Indian Tribe started funding a new shuttle route in August 2003 between East, West Reservations and Cocopah Casino. Two more routes in the City of Yuma were added to the system in 2004 with the transfer center moving to Yuma Palms Regional Center, after its opening, and an additional route to Wellton was initiated in January 2006. Service was expanded to 10:00 pm on all routes in the system on a network of seven routes. In 2006, another route connecting North Cocopah Reservation with West Cocopah Reservation was started with new funding recieved by the Cocopah Indian Tribe. In 2008, a new transit contractor, Yuma Transit LLC and Kay Transportation assumed the YCAT and Greater Yuma Area Dial-A-Ride service from Saguaro Foundation.
In June 2010, again after financial and operating difficulties, reductions in funding from the State of Arizona and local member participants, which resulted in the elimination of two routes within the City of Yuma, reduction of service hours from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm, Monday through Saturday. YCAT came very close to closing down. However, a new operations strategy adopted by YMPO came into play to save the transit system using a reduced level of local funding from its member participants without the City of Yuma. First Transit assumed the operation of YCAT and Greater Yuma Area Dial-A-Ride in September 2010.
In January 2012, YCIPTA restructured the transit system based on information from the Yuma Regional Transit Study and outreach with transit passengers. The new plan restored routes within the City of Yuma, added service to the Quechan/Fort Yuma Indian Reservation, provided Saturday service to new areas, including the East Cocopah Reservation and placed buses on major roadways. The transfer center moved to the future Yuma Multi-modal transit center, the Hotel Del Sol in Downotwn Yuma in September 2012.
Today, a total of 11 routes operate Monday through Saturday on a fleet of 18 large fixed route buses and 9 small cutaways and vans. In addition, YCAT Vanpool operated by vRide and Enterprise provides a network of vanpools to employment areas in Yuma County not served by YCAT.
In 2013, YCIPTA in cooperation with Quechan Indian Tribe and Imperial County Transportation Commission (ICTC) started a new bus route to El Centro, replacing Imperial Valley Transit Route 3 to Winterhaven. A new shuttle in the Fortuna Foothills began, a new one day a week service in Wellton started, along with YCAT Vanpool.
With the Yuma Regional Transit Study completed by Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) and Yuma County, the formation of YCIPTA, the addition of funding from Arizona Western College, Northern Arizona University, Quechan Indain Tribe and the restoration of funding from the City of Yuma, YCAT is looking to the future for growth and potential to improve services within southwestern Yuma and eastern Imperial Counties. YCIPTA is a focused transportation authority with one goal - to operate transit services efficiently and effectively. New innovations such as the Five Year Transit Plan, a future transit tax and the development of the Yuma Multi-modal Transit Center will help grow public transit to new heights in the next several years.
Both demand-response and fixed-route service is administered and funded by the YCIPTA and its member agencies, and operated by a private contractor, Transportation Concepts. YCIPTA owns all vehicles for fixed-route and demand-response service as well as leases the East 14th Street and Atlantic Avenue maintenance facility. YCAT Vanpool is operated by vRide and Enterprise Holdings.
To learn more about YCAT history - click here.