CATS: Moving Baton Rouge forward, one commuter at a time

(From left) Interim CEO Dwana Williams and Operator Leslie Pitcher

In the past year, Capital Area Transit System (CATS) has seen a multitude of changes while providing 1.2 million rides to those in the Baton Rouge area. When Dwana Williams was officially named Interim CEO in June of 2022, one of her first projects was to update processes and policies—a job that isn’t quick, but one that can make a big difference in funding.


Top executives: Dwana Williams, Interim CEO

Phone: 225.389.8920

Address: 2250 Florida Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70802 


“It’s incredibly important to be good stewards of the federal dollars CATS receives,” says Williams. “All of our policies must meet federal, state, and local regulations, so it’s time well spent to pinpoint areas where we might have weaknesses and to create opportunities for strength.”

With more than 20 years of transit experience, Williams began her career with CATS as an Operations Dispatcher in 2003 and was promoted over the years from Lead Dispatcher to Chief Operations Officer. Along with her behind-the-scenes work, Williams has named new leadership, including attorney Deana Wallace, Liaison Officer; Ravena Budwine, Safety Manager; Candace Morgan, Human Resources Director; and Eddriene Sylvester, Chief Financial Officer. 

“Expanding our team has allowed us to see through different lenses and helped fill in gaps that move CATS forward,” said Williams.

On the heels of completing a new comprehensive operational analysis, Williams and her team are grateful for all opportunities to meet the community’s needs as best they can, and are prioritizing transparency.

“Our goal is to connect people to what matters. To do that, we had to learn what that was for people in different areas,” said Williams. “Our customers’ priorities are CATS’ priorities.”

These areas of importance include access to healthcare, transportation to and from work, and connecting with families, along with barriers keeping commuters from connecting to what’s most important to them. CATS uses this data to work with parish and state transportation partners to break down barriers to give more people access to quality and efficient transit, and to apply for competitive grants to help with underserved areas.

A recent example of this is Lynx, the microtransit ridesharing system CATS implemented in Baker. The first of its kind in the state, the pilot program has exceeded expectations and has been called “the key to expanding opportunities for residents” in January’s Metro Magazine.

“It’s easy to forget how many of our people and employers rely on public transportation in the Baton Rouge area,” says Williams. “The Baton Rouge economy truly does hinge on transportation, and with everyone’s input, we will continue to make CATS a premier transit system that everyone can be proud of and enjoy.”