Public transportation began in New Castle in the mid 1800’s when the “Electric Streetcar Company” initiated service in the city and surrounding areas (Pittsburgh, Butler, Youngstown, etc.). Cost for a trolley car ride in New Castle was five cents. In the 1930’s the first bus was introduced to New Castle and by 1941, trolley cars had disappeared and the tracks and overhead wires were taken out.
At that time the franchise was taken over by the “Shenango Valley Transportation Company”. Buses operated in New Castle under the SVT until 1958 when a labor dispute halted operations. Buses did not run in New Castle for one year. That is when the “New Castle Area Transit Authority” was formed with buses beginning operations in 1959.
Initially, NCATA started bus operations with former SVTC equipment. The buses were used for the service were 14 GM TDH3207’s and 1 GM TD3206 which were 1945 through 1948 vintage. The SVTC had some newer equipment but the newer buses were sold off to help pay off outstanding debts of the company. 1963 saw the addition of 3 second hand GM’s added to the fleet.
The NCATA was incorporated on September 1, 1965 as a mass transportation project financed by the Federal Housing and Home Finance Agency, the City of New Castle, Shenango Township, Union Township, Neshannock Township and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The project was completed in 1968.
The NCATA’s first order of new coaches occurred in 1966 with the purchase of 5 Carpenter MT (20-24) and 10 MiniBus MB-711 (25-34) coaches. These coaches replaced some of the original SVTC coaches that the NCATA started out with.
A second order of coaches were ordered in 1972. This order was for 12 Highway Products Twin Coaches (25-46). These coaches allowed for the complete retirement of the remaining SVTC equipment as well as the retirement of some of the MiniBus coaches in the 1966 order which were not holding up as expected, even with the lighter service demands of the New Castle area.
By 1981, the Twins were beginning to fail frequently but the large PennDOT order of Neoplans were on the horizon.
In 1983, New Castle literally went from an hodgepodge of older buses in various colors and liveries to a brand new fleet of Neoplan AN435A’s overnight. The Neoplans were a tremendous improvement for the NCATA and brought a few firsts to the transit system. The first was an air conditioned fleet of modern coaches and secondly it moved the NCATA from having an average fleet age of over 20 years old to one that was just days old when the Neoplans arrived. The new Neoplans also featured kneelers and electronic destination signs which also added to the many firsts for the operation.
The NCATA completed construction on a new Transportation Center in the spring of 2002. This new facility is located at 311 Mahoning Avenue, New Castle PA. It is a state-of-the-art maintenance and administrative facility where all the vehicles will be maintained, administrative functions carried on and monthly public meetings held.
The next order of transit coaches occurred in 1999 when the NCATA purchased 12 35 foot Gillig Advantage low floor coaches (116-127). These coaches came in with a new color metallic medium green with dark green and gold striping. At this time also, many of the 1983 Neoplans were sent out for rebuilding. The rebuilt Neoplans were painted in the new livery and looked very attractive. The Neoplans were relegated to local service at this point and no longer make the long run to Pittsburgh.
At the turn of this century, the NCATA had a fleet of 12 buses operating over 8 fixed routes throughout the city. These routes operated over 1500 miles per day and required 30 employees to maintain the service. 800,000 passengers were served annually. Today, the NCATA has a fleet of 30 buses operating on 19 fixed routes serving people in New Castle and throughout Lawrence County, transporting them to destinations as far away as Pittsburgh. The NCATA now employs over 62 operators bringing the total to 76 full time employees.