CATS announces October 9 ballot to include renewal of agency's ten-year millage
Baton Rouge, LA_
Capital Area Transit System (CATS) officials announced today the agency will place a proposition on the October 9, 2021 ballot to renew its ten-year millage, which serves as the agency’s main source of funding. This funding supports the daily operations and allows CATS to provide service to tens of thousands of customers each month. The proposition will appear on the ballots in the City of Baton Rouge and City of Baker limits.
“When the voters placed their trust in CATS ten years ago, this agency made promises to the community about how we would improve our system; deliver reliable and efficient services; and support the tens of thousands of transit customers in our community we serve, and the jobs they support, each and every day,” said Bill Deville, CATS CEO. “I’m proud to say that we kept our promises and accomplished even more. Today, we are announcing that we will be asking voters to place their trust once again in CATS and renew their commitment to supporting our transit system, community, economy, customers and fellow residents.”
The ballot language, once approved by the CATS Board of Commissioners, will be sent for approval by the State Bond Commission. The CATS Board will vote on the final ballot language at the next board meeting on May 18.
In 2019, CATS provided more than 2.5 million passenger trips, with total service hours increasing 84 percent from 2012 hours, according to data. According to customer survey data, more than 93 percent of CATS customers use the system at least three days per week, and 76 percent of riders utilize the system more than five days per week.
Deville pointed to key CATS’ successes and accomplishments since 2012 that include the following:
- Serving as a key partner and funder of Baton Rouge’s upcoming new bus rapid transit service, scheduled to launch in 2024 that will provide access to more than 39,000 jobs for 11,000 low-income households along the route
- Securing more than $71 million in federal grant funding for operations and capital improvements, including aggressively identifying and pursuing such opportunities and strategically leveraging local match dollars to secure them
- Enhancing bus operations so that 85 percent of bus routes now have a headway—the time between buses at stops along a route—of less than 30 minutes during peak times, a significant improvement from 10 percent a few years ago
- Partnering with other agencies and community organizations to serve Baton Rouge’s most vulnerable populations, including deploying the CATS fleet to evacuate thousands of residents during the 2016 flood, partnering with the Mayor’s Healthy City Initiative to provide food to residents living in food desserts, and maintaining daily operations while providing essential services to thousands during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Modernizing and reducing the age of the CATS fleet by 50 percent, decreasing maintenance costs and enhancing bus reliability as a result
- Developing a robust five-year strategic plan and capital improvement plan in 2021 to serve as the foundation for how the agency will improve service reliability, optimize its investments, enhance customer satisfaction, and expand transit services in supporting Baton Rouge’s long-term workforce and economic development needs
“Every day, we see first-hand how crucial CATS is in the lives of so many of our fellow residents, as well as the jobs they hold, families they support, and communities in which they live,” said Erika Green, CATS Board of Commissioners President. “By renewing on our commitment through this millage, we are yet again prioritizing our commitment to a first-class public transit agency, as well as the community and economy our customers collectively support.”
The current millage represents 58 percent of the CATS annual operating budget, with passenger fares accounting for less than 10 percent of the budget and the remainder of the budget funded through state and federal grants, which are secured through local match funds generated by this millage.
CATS also released details for how this millage renewal will fund key agency goals, as well as commitments to customers and the surrounding community through 2032 that include the following:
- Improve on-time performance to 90 percent
- Complete construction and begin operating Louisiana’s first bus rapid transit service
- Continue enhancing transit access to major job centers across CATS service areas
- Add 16 new buses in the next three years, including six more electric buses
- Add 100 new or retrofitted bus shelters
- Position and adapt services to support emerging job hubs
- Expand into non-traditional services like micro-transit to provide more connections across the region in areas that require them and aggressively pursue federal or alternative funding for their implementation
In the coming months, CATS will hold a series of town halls, public meetings, and other community discussions to share more details, answer questions, and engage with residents on the proposed millage renewal.
For more information about CATS Connects, please visit www.brcats.com/connects.