Bill Deville finds familiar path at the helm of CATS

    Bill Deville has been down this road before.

    The former head of the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority in the early 2000s, Deville was named interim CEO of the Capital Area Transit System after Bob Mirabito stepped down in May of 2016. He had served as CATS’ chief operating officer since 2013, so he knew the challenge he would face when he applied for the permanent gig—a job he won in September.

    “I have the benefit of knowing the staff and what is expected,” he tells Business Report in the magazine’s latest Executive Spotlight feature.

    Unsurprisingly, Deville sees similarities in the issues CATS faces now and the problems he dealt with at NORTA.

    “Early on, NORTA was in debt and short on operating revenues, needing operating expense reductions, service improvements and upgrades to the fleet and facilities,” he says.

    He also sees an opportunity for CATS to help the Capital Region rebound from the August flood, similar to NORTA’s role in post-Katrina operations. “Transit can help boost a rebounding city and economy,” he says.

    Among many goals, one of Deville’s priorities is to replace CATS’ aging bus fleet, which he says is hindering the system’s ability to attract new riders. “We are working to overcome that and will have 24 brand new buses by spring 2017.”

    Of all the negative public perceptions about CATS, Deville says the most incorrect one is the system’s lack of communication with riders. “I spend a good amount of time getting calls, emails and texts from employees, riders, stakeholders and the media, just about anywhere or anytime,” he says.

    Read the full feature. Here’s an example of what you’ll find:

    What are your other goals for your CATS for the future?

    “We aim to make CATS a true regional transit authority, and we want to be an economic partner not only in Baton Rouge but also in the surrounding areas. We know that a lot of our workforce in Baton Rouge lives in outlying areas, and we want to be able to provide them alternative transportation methods while we continue to improve our core service. We have a lot of long-term goals—supporting TramLinkBR, launching Bus Rapid Transit on Florida Boulevard and then later on Plank Road, implementing electric buses and finding funds to enhance our service. I also want to see CATS working with the city to align our service with its projects and support them where we can with funding to help enhance bus shelters, sidewalks and greenery. We have a lot of work to do.”

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