Looking to emphasize its most popular bus routes and trim the less-used lines, the Capital Area Transit System's board voted Tuesday to close 145 bus stops that don't serve many passengers.
Its proposed Service Improvement Plan is the largest overhaul of the CATS system since 2014, when the bulk of the agency's new tax money, approved in 2012, was collected and put to use, said spokeswoman Amie McNaylor.
The Capital Area Transit System has proposed eliminating 145 underutilized bus stops as the agency tries to pivot and offer longer hours and a…
The East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council must still approve the plan. Council members are scheduled to hold a public hearing and debate the matter Sept. 26. Councilwoman Erika Green, who sits on the CATS board, said she hasn't heard of any questions or concerns from her Metro Council colleagues.
The city-parish will host a final information meeting at 3 p.m. Wednesday in the council chambers at City Hall.
CATS Chairman Jim Brandt said Tuesday the new route design is a "much more efficient utilization of our resources."
If the Metro Council approves of the system overhaul, CATS could implement the new routes in January, the next time drivers choose their routes, McNaylor said. Per CATS' union contract, bus operators have a chance to shuffle routes three times per year.
Drivers that serve the lines proposed to be cut will be freed up to augment in-demand routes, CATS officials have said. About 45 percent of stops see a bus at least every half-hour.
Should the new Service Improvement Plan be implemented, 85 percent of the remaining bus stops will see a driver every half-hour or faster, according to the CATS website.
Maps and information on eliminated, new and altered routes is available at brcats.com/page/service-improvement-plan.
CATS staff urged the board to approve the plan. The agency hosted four public meetings and altered the course of one new route along Blount Road to serve more riders, but otherwise, the routes they envisioned are still the ones being considered, Chief Operating Officer Rod Goldman said.
Amid its push to focus on the most popular service, CATS is also preparing to open bus rapid transit lines — express routes along major thoroughfares such as Plank Road and Florida Boulevard.
Plans for a 3-mile downtown-LSU tram have now morphed into a 10-mile express bus route between the university and a future north Baton Rouge h…
During Tuesday's meeting, CATS CEO Bill Deville said the agency has been approached by Baker Mayor Darnell Waites about opening a park and ride bus stop in his city.
CATS is still working out the details with agencies like the Capital Region Planning Commission to look for funding sources. However, Deville said CATS would consider options such as extending the planned Plank Road express route — scheduled to come online in about a year — farther to the north to allow Baker residents to board. Deville emphasized that discussions are still in the early stages.