BRAC urges CATS to follow tax renewal with regular performance reports

The Baton Rouge Area Chamber is urging the Capital Area Transit System to create a publicly accessible dashboard to keep the public informed of its performance. 

Voters on Saturday approved a 10-year property tax renewal that pays for almost 60% of CATS’ annual operating budget, which system leaders say will help them address long-term infrastructure improvements and service upgrades. 

There has been a lot of attention on CATS in recent months in the lead-up to the tax election, and justifiably so, says Trey Godfrey, BRAC’s senior vice president for policy. 

“It is incumbent upon all of us to keep that same level of attention on all of our agencies, whether there are tax renewals coming up or not,” he says. 

Elements that Godfrey suggests should be included in a public-facing dashboard include:

  • On-time performance;
  • Ridership total;
  • Ridership per mile;
  • Ridership per hour;
  • Revenue per mile;
  • Revenue per hour;
  • Cost per mile;
  • Cost per hour;
  • Current year costs and expenses versus prior year costs and expenses.

There have been recent reports about possible financial mismanagement at CATS, which system officials have dismissed as “incorrect assumptions and rumors.” CATS CEO Bill Deville, in office since 2016, says he has resolved the issues that led to fare revenue going missing under previous leadership. 

BRAC supported the tax renewal, saying CATS connects to over 225,000 jobs across its route system and citing modeling that indicates the system will contribute $1.6 billion in economic impact to the Baton Rouge area in the next decade. Together Baton Rouge, which also supported the tax renewal, did not return Daily Report’s requests for comment on the matter.