CATA Corner: Public transportation in Centre County

The Centre Area Transportation Authority (CATA), familiar to many students and locals, is a great way to get around campus, town and beyond. This joint municipal authority serves six municipalities surrounding State College, and delivers safe and reliable bus transportation to the thousands of people who call this area home.

While some of our rural county can only be accessed by vehicle, CATA serves a large portion of the local population, including the nearby communities of Stormstown, Toftrees, Woodycrest, Houserville, Bellefonte, Pleasant Gap, Lemont, Boalsburg and Pine Grove Mills. CATA service in these areas provides a vital link to the county’s economic hubs of downtown State College and Bellefonte, meaning these communities stay connected  -- no car necessary.

A one-way bus trip is an affordable $2.00, but some riders are eligible for even cheaper fares. Students and those riding on the Penn State Campus, for example, ride free (this includes the LOOP and LINK routes). Also riding free are children under 40 inches tall and people 65 and older. To ride free, senior citizens must obtain a Senior Citizen Transit Identification Card through the CATA Customer Service Center. Many seniors will also have the option of riding at half the fare with the presentation of a Medicare Card. This half-priced fare is also available to those with disabilities.

The extensive CATA routes are a huge asset to community members, no matter the age. In addition to reduced fares for seniors, many will have front-door pick-up. Popular retirement communities, like The Village at Penn State and The Oaks, have direct stops (on the HM & XG lines, respectively).

Of particular interest to many are the stores in and around Nittany Mall, roughly three miles from Penn State’s University Park campus. One way to reach this retail-heavy area would be to take the HM Nittany Mall/Toftrees bus. From downtown, it hits many popular spots: Happy Valley and Voodoo breweries, downtown Lemont with its gallery and eateries, Walmart and Sam’s Club, UEC 12 Premiere movie theater, and finally the Nittany Mall. It also stops at various hotels and housing developments along the way, making it convenient for locals as well as students. Buses generally run every 40 minutes on weekdays, and every hour on weekends.

Other busing options exist to make it to shopping on Benner Pike. The XG route, for example, ultimately ends up in nearby Pleasant Gap, but hits the Nittany Mall and other stores along the way. This is the route you’ll want to take if trying to visit other points of interest beyond the mall, such as the College Township municipal office or PennDot’s Driver’s License Center. Alternatively, take the XB from downtown to the mall and to points beyond, like Bellefonte Lanes and downtown Bellefonte.

Even without a car, there’s so much to do in the Centre region. And with the help of CATA, much of it is easily accessible to visitors and locals alike. Visit CATA's website for more details.

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