TCAT & the Coronavirus Pandemic & Frequently Asked Questions

Wearing face coverings is of utmost importance and still THE LAW

March 19, 2020

Updated June 2021

Though we are so happy that many pandemic-safety restrictions have been lifted and our ever-resilient community is getting back to normal, TCAT continues to follow preventative measures as advised by New York State, the Tompkins County Health Department, the CDC and other experts to help keep passengers and employees safe. Riders are still required to wear face coverings.See NYS update. Additionally, TCAT raised the minimum number of riders per bus, but until further notice, capacity is for seating only. (No standees.)

The following are some general FAQs, but please – if you have additional questions – please send them to and we will do our best to respond as soon as possible.


1. I heard recently that TCAT is giving out free passes for those who get vaccinated?  Is this true?

Answer:  Yes, this was some great news from the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Those who receive their first dose of the Pfizer, Moderna or single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine between June 15 through July 14 are eligible to receive a free seven-day pass, valued at $17.50. Please bring your vaccine card to TCAT’s main office. 737 Willow Ave., Ithaca, between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Mon.-Fri., and we will give you your pass. See Tompkins County vaccination sites here.

2. Question: How has/is the coronavirus impacting service?

Answer: In response to a drastic drop in ridership due to stay-at-home directives, TCAT first started scaling back service in March 2020. Since last summer, with a gradual return of ridership, TCAT gradually restored service to what are now near-normal levels. At present, ridership is about 30 percent of what it was pre-pandemic

Summer service started Sun., May 30. See schedules.

3. Question: How has the pandemic affected fare collection?

Answer: We stopped collecting fares from March 20, 2020 through Sept. 5, 2020. This was because the fare box is located next to the driver’s seat. We waited to collect fares after we were able to install driver shields (as shown to the right.) Now that driver barriers are installed, TCAT is again able to collect fares. See fare and pass options here.

4. Question: How about your facilities and customer service desk?

Answer: Our main facility/ customer service center at 737 Willow Ave., Ithaca, is now open to the public from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Mon.-Fri. However, our main hub and indoor space at Green St. Station remains closed until further notice.

Please note: there could be minor delays for riders ordering new passes as some customer service staff are working remotely. As such, customers who need to purchase new Tcards or fobs ˗ or who need to recharge their fare media over the phone ˗ should order them as soon as possible. Customers using the online store still be able to add passes to their fare media that, in most cases, become effective immediately. (In rare cases, the recharging process could take up to 48 hours for the additional passes to post.)

As always, customer service representatives are able to take calls Mon.-Fri. from 8 a.m. to noon and then again from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at (607) 277-RIDE (7433). Riders can also email TCAT staff with concerns or questions at and a representative will get back to you as soon as possible.

5. Question: Why did you run buses during a pandemic?

Answer: Public transit is considered essential; many people needed to travel to buy food, medicine and to keep medical appointments. Some people are deemed essential workers who can’t work remotely. And keep in mind, we have riders who have no other means of transportation.

6. Question: What is the best way to get information about any updates about TCAT service?

Answer: TCAT will do its best to update passengers as soon as possible here on its website at https;// or on its Bus Tracker   Or check your MyStop or other apps. To download go to

Again,  our customer service representatives are available 8 a.m. to noon and then again 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. Mon.-Fri. at (607)277-RIDE (7433). Again, please note, due to occasional high call volumes, we suggest you first go to the Bus Tracker or apps to look for updates if you can.

7. Question: What are TCAT’s sanitizing protocols?

 Answer: TCAT implemented the following protocols in early March 2020 that remain in place:

Bus Cleaning: TCAT procured a professional-grade germicidal electrostatic sprayer for bus handlers to disinfect bus interior surfaces every night at the end of the day’s service period to include stanchions, handrails and seats. This extra step is in addition to their daily routine of cleaning and sanitizing all buses to include the fleet operated by Gadabout Transportation Services, Inc., TCAT’s paratransit provider.

Facility Cleaning: custodians ̶  every morning before opening time  ̶   use the electrostatic sprayer to sanitize surfaces inside Green Street Station (when it is re-opened.) TCAT’s major hub and indoor passenger waiting area. Custodians are also take extra steps in sanitizing employee and public areas within the Willow Avenue facility.

Hand Sanitizers: are to  available to riders on all buses.

Links to resources:

Tompkins County Health Department

New York State Department of Health

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Cornell University

Ithaca College

Tompkins Cortland Community College

Way2Go transportation guidelines