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CATS cancels car allowances for highest paid employees after WBRZ report

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BATON ROUGE- The Capital Area Transit System (CATS) canceled car allowances for 13 of its highest-paid employees just weeks after the WBRZ Investigative Unit exposed them.

The public bus system was spending nearly $45,000 per year for those in chief, manager and director positions to stay off the bus.

Antoinette Davis is on a fixed income and depends on CATS buses to get around. She's infuriated that the public bus system was giving its highest-paid employees the allowance.

"If you're not good enough to ride the bus, you shouldn't be allowed an allowance," Davis said.

When the WBRZ Investigative Unit started asking questions about why the allowance was necessary, a spokeswoman said a primary use was for the employees to drive two miles from the CATS office tower on Florida Boulevard to the bus station up the road.

"It shouldn't have been given to them to begin with," Davis said. "That's why they have public transportation. If you work here, you should ride as well."

CATS has continued to refuse to provide anyone for an on-camera interview. WBRZ asked again Tuesday, but we were told no one was available.

The WBRZ Investigative Unit checked with the Regional Transit Authority in New Orleans about car allowances for their employees. A spokesperson for the RTA said no one there gets car allowances. The State Legislative Auditor, which issues best practices for public agencies, also said none of its 265 employees get a car allowance.

"I pay taxes, and I know if I'm paying for someone to have a vehicle. I could put that in my own pocket and pay for my own vehicle and my own insurance," Davis said.

On its own website, CATS has published a strategic plan for the years 2017-2022. In the plan, the agency compares itself to five other bus systems. CATS has one of the highest budgets of the six operating on $23 million per year. CATS also has among some of the lowest ridership of the bus systems it is compared to on the website.

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