CATS Could Fall Short on Service Promises

Oct 17, 2012

Baton Rouge's bus system is expecting revenues to fall millions short of projections. That means it may not be able to fulfill all the promises for more express routes and shorter wait times made during the successful campaign for a transit tax last spring.

The Capitol Area Transit System projected the tax would generate about $18 million annually. A ruling that a homestead exemption applies knocked that down by $3 million and the failure of the tax measure in Zachary cost $1.1 million.

Additionally, CEO Brian Marshall said CATS is no longer counting on about $3.5 million it has historically received through the city-parish each year.

"At this point our focus is to try to find ways to deliver everything that we talked about, despite some of those funding gaps," Marshall said, "And, I'll tell you, my personal hope, is that if we can find ways to do even more than what we've promised."

Marshall said CATS has about a year to figure out how to do that as the new service plan won't likely go into effect until early 2014 when new buses arrive. Any adjustments to schedules and routes will have to be approved by the board of commissioners after public input.

Details of the CATS budget came up during a court hearing Monday. The agency is trying to get a challenge to the transit tax thrown out.