College Issue: Get on the bus

A CAT driver gives you the inside skinny on local public transportation

SO YOU'RE NEW in town. Don’t know your way around, got no wheels.

Catch a CAT (the acronym for the local bus system Chatham Area Transit).

I’ve been a bus operator in Savannah for 21 years and I’m here to tell you how to use and abuse us. Do not hesitate to use public transportation; it’s easier than you may think. We welcome new riders and hope you will become a part of our family and community.

We are by far the best bang for your buck anywhere in Savannah. We can get you to your destination safely and with dispatch. With our 19 different routes, you can safely get to many different places in Chatham County.

We also offer a free ferry service between River Street and Hutchinson Island. The ride is worth your time, the ferries are very cool and the view of River Street from the water is fantastic.

Aside from the ferries and our Free Cat Shuttle, the fare system-wide is one dollar. What more do you want? A buck for Pete’s sake. Exact change is required, but you can pay by bill or coin. Should you decide you‘ll be riding more frequently, we offer unlimited rider ship for $12 per week.

Got a bike? We can accommodate at least two bikes at a time on the rack on the front of the bus. It’s a piece of cake, don’t be intimidated. Instructions are on the rack — it’s an easy one, two, three process.

Loud music, eating and profanity are not allowed on the CAT bus. Unfortunately, we do allow you to talk and bore the rest of us to death on your cell phone.

Skateboards are allowed if you can put them in your lap, and roller blades are okay if you take them off.

Our busses are Gillig Phantoms, made in Hayward, Calif. All are handicap accessible, air-conditioned and equipped with a kneeling feature if you should need it. They also are equipped with a GPS system that alerts riders of major intersections and transfer points.

All of our downtown busses make a rectangular loop that includes Broughton Street to the north, Oglethorpe Street to the south, Abercorn Street to the east and Martin Luther King Boulevard to the west. Stops on the loop are well-marked and located on every second corner. Aside from our two crosstown busses, all of our busses can be caught on this loop.

Where can you go on CAT? Our Ride Guide, which is available free on all our busses, will outline exactly where and how to get to all your destinations. It has a system map along with schedules for all our routes. Any questions at all, do not hesitate to ask. We’re here to serve you.

We have four centers of higher education in this town, and here in no particular order I address them all:

Savannah College of Art & Design

I know you have your own bus system, but there will be times when you’ll find us more convenient. If you’re at O House, merely walk across the street — that’s where the majority of our busses originate. If you jump on the #14 there, you can run out Abercorn Street (the main drag) to all the strip malls, Oglethorpe Mall, Armstrong Atlantic State University and end up at Savannah Mall. This bus runs every 20 minutes until late in the evening.

Need to get to the grocery store? There is a Kroger downtown; you can take our free CAT Shuttle to it. You might also consider loading your bike on the rack and taking the #10 to Whitmarsh Island or the #24 to Wilmington Island. These are a couple of the scenic islands located east of town.

Savannah State University

We cater to your every need. We bring the 12 Henry Street route right to your doorstep — a crosstown bus that allows you to connect with any of our busses going north and south. It runs every 30 minutes.

The #24 Savannah Sate also runs through the campus albeit less frequently. It can take you out to Whitmarsh Island on the outbound trip; it ends there at a Publix supermarket and a Wal-Mart. On the inbound, it will take you downtown.

A good rule to remember while riding our system is that when you’re heading away from town you are outbound, and when heading towards downtown you are inbound.

The Number 31 Skidaway/Sandfly is another option for SSU students. Outbound you can catch it catty-corner from the football stadium. It will take you to the Sandfly Super Walmart, and then to the Oglethorpe Mall. Connections at both can increase your mobility. Catch it inbound on the same side as the stadium and you’lll go downtown. At that point, you can connect with almost all of the busses in our system.

South University

From downtown, we can drop you at your doorstep with a number of different routes. The number #27 Waters Road and the #28 Waters Road run 20 minutes apart until 8:30 p.m. Either will put you right in front of the campus. If you’re coming from another direction you might look at either the #6 or the #20, while not running as frequently, they might also serve your needs.

Armstrong Atlantic State University

Abercorn Street is to Savannah what Peachtree Street is to Atlanta. Our busses run up and down it all day long every 20 minutes. Need to get to school? Fear not. From downtown to the South side, the #14 Abercorn is the way to go. This run for many years was actually called the #14 Armstrong. Every bus in our system connects with the #14.

If that’s not enough, the # 6 Crosstown, which is a southside crosstown bus, will also take you within spitting distance of Armstrong.

OK, newbies, welcome to Savannah. I hope this guide will help you meet your mobility needs. If we can help in anyway, do not hesitate to call — our number is 233-5767, and a transit agent will be standing by to assist you. You can also log on to our award-winning website at

If you’re on the street and need some help, just look for me — I’m the CAT behind the wheel with the smile on his face.

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