KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — Kingsport Area Transit Service (KATS) will reduce its number of routes from five to four beginning May 1.

KATS cited nationwide trends affecting public transit agencies, like declining ridership, lack of qualified drivers and shortages in vehicles and equipment as reasons for the reduction.

As a result of the changes, KATS will go from 253 to 208 stops.

“Even though we will be dropping about 45 bus stops, nearly all coverage will remain intact,” Timothy Land, transit planner for the City of Kingsport, said. “Today, roughly 44% of Kingsport residents live within ¾ of a mile of a bus stop and this will remain true after the switch.”

Photo provided by KATS

The changes will not affect KATS’ Dial-A-Ride ADA/65/Job Assist programs, according to the release.

To help riders familiarize themselves with the route changes, KATS will be offering free rides for bus passengers in May.

More information on the new routes can be found on KATS’ website.