CATS's legacy extends as far back as 1881, when mule-driven trolley cars operated on Government Street as the Baton Rouge Street Railroad Company. Eleven years later, the Capital Railway and Lighting Company was born. Instead of mule-driven trolleys, the first electric cars were used to transport Baton Rougeans around town.
Through the years CATS has worn different "hats” as it has evolved from a private business to a political subdivision of the State of Louisiana created by special act of the Louisiana legislature. Names changed from the Baton Rouge Bus Company to Metro Transit to the present day Capital Area Transit System, but they all had one thing in common: transporting the people of the Baton Rouge area.
For many years CATS operated from its streetcar/bus barn near the intersection of Plank Road and Scenic Highway, and then from a location on Seneca Street. In May 1998, CATS built its administrative, maintenance and transfer facility at 2250 Florida Boulevard. The passenger transfer facility features waiting areas, information and customer support and passenger loading areas for 18 buses. Administrative/Maintenance facilities feature a state-of-the-art bus repair and maintenance shop, modern administration offices and break areas for all employees.
In June 1999, CATS began operating buses seven days a week, 363 days a year. Also in 1999, extended hours were added, with some routes operating late into the evening. CATS made transit history in March 2014, when CATS changed 20 routes and added 10 additional routes using five transit hubs to improve efficiency and shorten ride time.