The East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council on Wednesday is going to be asked to consider approving three new routes for the Capital Area Transit System that, if approved, will go into effect Nov. 30.
The request for additional routes is a marked change for the agency. Requests before the Metro Council have in recent years generally been to cut routes or raise fares in an effort to balance a dwindling budget.
But the additional routes are part of the agency’s complete service overhaul and expansion, thanks to the voter-approved property tax, which went into effect in March.
The new routes are:
- The LSU Express, a nonstop shuttle from LSU campus to the Florida Boulevard Terminal, traveling through the Garden District. The route will run Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
- The Nicholson Limited Stop route connecting downtown Baton Rouge to LSU and Tigerland, via Nicholson. The route will run Monday through Sunday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., every hour.
- The Garden District Trolley, which connects downtown to the Garden District and to the Perkins Road Acadian Village Shopping Center. It runs Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. every 30 minutes. On Saturday, it runs from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The cost of the new routes is about $1.75 million. To accommodate the costs, CATS trimmed the frequency of two other bus routes — the Foster Drive and Acadian Thruway routes — which were underused.
Those two routes will now go from 20-minute wait times during peak hours to 30 minutes, saving $624,000.
The rest of the funds for the additional routes come from grant money, fare box fund surpluses and savings from the contract with MV Transportation, which is overseeing the expansion.
In March, CATS expanded the routes from 20 to 30. Every route was changed to make it run more efficiently. CATS officials have continued to tweak service over the past few months, and are adding the new routes as a result of rider feedback and in an effort to continue to draw new riders who have the option of driving cars.