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CATS striving to improve service, but problems persist

1 week 3 days 22 hours ago Friday, June 07 2024 Jun 7, 2024 June 07, 2024 10:41 AM June 07, 2024 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - Lynn Mearidy gets around Baton Rouge using CATS on Demand, a service provided by the city-parish bus system that schedules trips in accessible vehicles for riders with certain disabilities.

She said it's sometimes less on-demand, and more waiting for a ride that arrives late or doesn't arrive at all.

The service is part of the Capital Area Transit System, which has nearly 1,500 bus stops around the parish. More than 100,000 people a month use CATS.

Mearidy said she finished work at 4 p.m. Tuesday. Her CATS on Demand bus didn't show up. She eventually got an automated message saying the bus would be there by 6 p.m. It didn't arrive for another hour.

"It's pouring down rain. I can't wait outside. So I'm in the building. They have glass doors, and the bus driver claims he came and it was a no show,” Mearidy said.

Many bus stops don't have coverings to protect riders from sun and rain, or even benches. On College Drive Tuesday two women had to stand on a bench to avoid being splashed by passing cars. 

"I think that they should have this as a cover up everywhere. Everywhere where there's a bus stop, they should have this," one woman said.

Theo Richards, the newly-appointed CATS CEO, said the agency asked last year for public help to improve the system. 

"Over the course of the next ten years we are going to be putting bus pads at each of those stops, as well as including amenities, bus shelters, and bus benches if the stop warrants it," he said.

The agency doesn't have enough qualified staff to operate and maintain buses, which reduces the system's reliability. CATS is working with Baton Rouge Community College to expand the talent base for recruiting employees, Richards said, and he hopes to create more community partnerships that can improve other facets of the operation.

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