CATS Board Approves 2018 Budget, Five-Year Strategic Plan as Agency Celebrates Successful 2017

December 19, 2017

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Board of Commissioners of the Capital Area Transit System today approved its 2018 operating budget and five-year strategic plan at its final meeting of 2017, capping off a year of service improvements and planning.

The 2018 budget maintains the same service levels as 2017 at a minimum, though the agency is currently planning for Bus Rapid Transit to launch in 2018.

CATS Board President Jim Brandt said, “We are happy with the way we are ending 2017 and looking forward to making more progress in 2018. The addition of both electric buses and modified bus rapid transit into our service will be a tremendous enhancement to our customers and the community.”

CATS CEO Bill Deville said, “I am proud of the many internal organizational improvements we made in 2017, including bringing on transit veterans to help run CATS, buying new buses and improving how we communicate with the public.”

2018 Budget Anticipates Major Overtime Savings

The CATS operating budget for 2018 will maintain, at a minimum, the 2017 service levels from CATS. Through cost savings measures, the 2018 budget is $1.7 million lower than in 2017, even though it includes interim hub improvements and the local match for purchasing three new electric buses in spring.

Overall, the budget anticipates slightly more than $26 million in revenues, which includes $4 million of federal funding to underwrite CATS services. Revenues from riders and community partners will make up 15 percent of the 2018 budget, as compared to 10 percent in 2017. Total direct operating expenses for 2018 total $25.2 million, which is more than $1.7 million less than the current budget.

The major savings CATS will see in 2018 is in the area of operator and mechanic overtime, which will be dramatically reduced. CATS had been running below full employment levels, which led to an overreliance on paying drivers overtime to keep its service levels up in 2017.

By committing to keeping its roster at full employment, CATS will see significant savings in overtime.

Strategic Plan Outlines Five Years of Goals for CATS

The agency spent much of 2017 creating a five-year Strategic Plan, which is the first plan of its kind for CATS. At its December meeting, the CATS board approved the plan, which will guide the agency’s actions for the next five years.

There are fifteen major strategic goals across the following five areas:

  • Safety, Service Quality and Reliability
  • Financial Responsibility, Accountability and Stewardship
  • Outreach, Community and Stakeholder Engagement
  • Workforce Stability, Engagement and Performance
  • Strategic Capital Improvements and Investments

Goals include everything from improving on-time performance, decreasing travel time for major destinations, decreasing the number of preventable accidents and regionalizing service to at least one neighboring municipality, among other things.

Building on Major 2017 Accomplishments

In addition to creating the agency’s first strategic plan in recent history, CATS major 2017 accomplishments include, among other things:

  • Taking delivery of 24 new buses in ninety days over 2016/2017 to greatly enhance the reliability and safety of the CATS fleet, also reducing the age of the CATS fleet from an average of 9 years to around 3 years
  • Bringing back Touchdown Express service for the 2017 LSU football season, following taking a season off in 2016. CATS moved more than 4,000 LSU fans this season and plans to increase that number in 2018
  • Purchasing land from LSU to build the first permanent transit hub in North Baton Rouge
  • Launching a modern, mobile-friendly website to enhance how the agency communicates with the public, its riders and the taxpayers
  • Prioritizing North Baton Rouge projects to align with the Mayor’s goals for Baton Rouge community development
  • Improving training for cadets, increasing the number of active operators to 136, which leads to a more stable, reliable workforce and fewer cancellations
  • Increasing the number of CATS on bus advertisers, including 21 fully wrapped buses, and 100 percent of the peak hour fleet has advertising, as an additional source of revenue for the agency
  • Launching improved CATS metrics to demonstrate the agency’s progress on a monthly basis
  • Beginning joint planning for bike share program between CATS and BRAF and also with Transit Network Company (TNC) Uber for first mile/last mile concept in conjunction with BRT routes



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