Contributed by Thomas J. Camacho, Special Assistant for Public Transportation and Chairman for the Commonwealth Public Transportation Advisory Board
Commonwealth Office of Transit Authority, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
Currently, we've selected a transportation consulting firm to conduct our Saipan Fixed-Flex Route and ParaTransit System Feasibility Study. Within four to five months from now, COTA will have completed this study with plans to launch its first-ever Saipan fixed-flex route service (possibly four accessible mini-buses and installation of up to 40 bus stop shelters) to be complemented by the ADA paratransit service or Call-a-Ride Saipan. Eventually, COTA will bid out the Saipan fixed-flex route and paratransit service to a third-party contractor.
We are also close to bidding out the Saipan-Tinian Island Ferry Boat Feasibility Study and in six to seven months from now, this study will be completed, and we are hoping it will suggest that a passenger/auto ferry boat system is a viable operation between the island of Saipan and Tinian. COTA will stand ready to implement the recommendations of this study from applying for transit grants to build or acquire ferry boat(s), build terminal facilities and have operation assistance.
Lastly, we are gearing up to establish the first ever One-Call/One-Click Transportation Information, Resource & Referral Service Center which will be equipped with the latest transportation management software; design/build COTA's new Administration Building; and design and convert an existing warehouse into COTA's Vehicle Maintenance, Repair and Storage Facility.
Our local public lands department designated a good size piece of public land property to COTA for its new building and maintenance facility. We are very excited about these upcoming services and projects so we can be a part of improving quality of life for our citizens. These projects are funded under COTA's Veterans Transportation & Community Living Initiative II grant.