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CATS officially appoints interim leader as CEO

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BATON ROUGE - Ten months after firing an embattled CEO amid WBRZ Investigative Unit reports, the city-parish bus system has appointed its interim leader to replace him permanently.

On Tuesday, the Capital Area Transit System board appointed Theo Richards to the position. He has been serving as interim CEO since August, when previous interim CEO Dwana Williams unexpectedly quit. Williams had replaced Bill Deville after he was fired.

Richards has been with the agency since 2011.

"I've grown a fond belief that public transit can erase barriers in the community," he said.

Johnathan Hill led the search committee.

[Richards] had deep community connections here in the agency," Hill said. "He was a rider of transit so he understands the system, and he has a clear plan for building a team around him to support the work that he wants to do."

The board spent more than an hour behind closed doors discussing the candidates after conducting the third finalist interview Tuesday. In the end, one board member voted against Richards' selection.

Carolyn Coleman, the Metro Council's representative on the CATS board, supported Richards.

"We wanted to be diligent and make sure that through this process that we would choose the right person," Coleman said.

Richards said his goal as CEO is to expand transit lines across the metro area. The Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is a 10-mile corridor intended to connect Airline Highway, north Baton Rouge through Florida Boulevard to Government Street and then to Nicholson Drive. 

"We're really excited about it," Richards said. "It's going to have 15 minute headways. This is a project in conjunction with the City-Parish that we're really excited about."

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