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Hornell Area Transit: Linking Lives, One Ride at a Time

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HAT has a “profound impact” on the community

By: Johanna Elattar

In the picturesque landscape of Steuben County, nestled amidst rolling hills and quaint neighborhoods, lies a vital artery of community life: the Hornell Area Transit (HAT). Since its modest beginnings on September 1, 1981, with just two buses navigating the streets of Hornell, HAT has evolved into a cornerstone of public transportation, connecting residents of the city and its surrounding areas with essential services, employment opportunities, and social interactions. In an exclusive series of interviews, I had the privilege of delving deep into the rich tapestry of HAT’s history, challenges, and enduring impact on the fabric of Hornell’s community.

Cassie Feenaughty, the steadfast dispatcher at HAT for the past three years, provided invaluable insights into the intricacies of daily operations. Reflecting on the journey from humble origins to the present, Feenaughty recounted the remarkable growth of HAT, from serving a meager average of 51 riders in its inaugural year to the staggering 33,854 hours of service logged annually today. This exponential expansion underscores the indispensable role that HAT plays in meeting the evolving transportation needs of the region.

Jessica Cleveland, Deputy Mayor of the City of Hornell, echoed Feenaughty’s sentiments, emphasizing the profound impact of HAT on fostering inclusivity and accessibility within the community. As a staunch advocate for public transit, Cleveland underscored the city’s unwavering commitment to supporting HAT’s mission of providing reliable, affordable transportation for all residents, regardless of socioeconomic status or mobility limitations.

At the helm of HAT’s daily operations stands Kim Courtney, whose passion for service and dedication to excellence have been instrumental in navigating the challenges of modernizing and expanding the transit service. Courtney elucidated on the pressing issues facing HAT, including the persistent shortage of Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) drivers and the rigorous training requirements mandated by the Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT) regulations. Despite these obstacles, Courtney remains resolute in her determination to uphold the highest standards of safety and professionalism, ensuring that passengers can rely on HAT as a trusted mode of transportation.

Geoff Thomas, the astute Fleet Coordinator, regaled me with poignant anecdotes that underscored the profound impact of HAT on the lives of its passengers. Thomas fondly reminisced about drivers like Kevin Mead, whose acts of kindness—from providing fishing poles to underprivileged children to donning the Santa suit during the holidays—epitomized the spirit of compassion and community that permeates HAT’s ethos. These heartwarming stories serve as a testament to the transformative power of simple acts of kindness and the enduring legacy of goodwill that defines HAT’s legacy.

But HAT is more than just a transportation service; it is a lifeline for many residents, particularly senior citizens and individuals with disabilities, who rely on its services not only for mobility but also for social interaction and a sense of belonging. As Kim Courtney aptly puts it, HAT has become a “little community” on wheels—a safe haven where passengers forge lasting friendships, share stories, and find solace in each other’s company.

In addition to its daily routes within Hornell, HAT extends its reach to neighboring towns such as Alfred, Almond, Bath, and Canisteo, ensuring that residents across Steuben County have access to essential services and opportunities for connectivity. With amenities such as free WiFi, bike racks, and wheelchair accessibility on all buses, HAT goes above and beyond to enhance the passenger experience and foster a sense of inclusion for all riders.

As HAT enters its fifth decade of service, the commitment to innovation, safety, and community engagement remains as steadfast as ever. Whether it’s providing free rides on special occasions sponsored by local businesses or soliciting feedback from passengers to continually improve service quality, HAT remains dedicated to serving as a beacon of hope and opportunity for the residents of Hornell and beyond.

To learn more about HAT’s schedules, fares, or opportunities to join the HAT team, visit and embark on a journey of connectivity, compassion, and community that defines the essence of Hornell Area Transit.

Johanna Elattar is a Hornell NY based writer who excells at feature articles that spotlight the great things about our communities. She writes about more than just community news, check out this recent article about a serial killer, a native of Bath NY. Contact her anytime,

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