Since October of last year, when voters rejected a property tax to fund the Capital Area Transit System, officials have known CATS would face a serious budget shortfall in 2011. In fact, with the lack of dedicated funding, higher operating expenses and evaporating state and federal subsidies, CATS must account for a $1.2 million projected deficit.
CATS appears to have done its due diligence in examining areas of potential reduction. There just don't seem to be any. It operates at a lean 8 percent administrative overhead in an industry that averages 12%.
CATS proposed raising fares and cutting weekend and holiday service to achieve a balanced budget, but the Metro Council voted against that plan. A good public transit system is important for many of our citizens, those who need it to get to work or school, or even to a doctor's office, and as an alternative to adding more cars to our gridlock.
It is understandably a bitter bill to swallow to ask transit users to bear the brunt of the shortfall. If city and parish leaders don't want to take that route, then we hope they show leadership by coming up with an alternate plan now. We can't afford to wait for the inevitable.