Metro councilman calls for major change in CATS bus system

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Councilman Buddy Amoroso is calling for a major change within the CATS bus system. Councilman Amoroso proposed two solutions he believes will help the board. They are solutions that some community leaders agree with.

Pastor Lee Wesley of Community Bible Baptist wants to change the Capital Area Transit System. Wesley is part of Together Baton Rouge, an organization that helped pass a tax to get better funding for the bus system.

The board has been on shaky ground; board president Isaiah Marshall is stepping down in July and former board member Montrell McCaleb is accused of mismanaging money; an allegation he denies. Wesley believes a strong board is important to improve the CATS system.

"If I don't have a car, I'm in bad shape in East Baton Rouge Parish. [I've] got to depend on a system that is absolutely deplorable and I can't depend on it," said Wesley.

That is why Councilman Amoroso came up with several solutions.

"I think we should have the best individuals inside of our parish managing that money, running the CATS system, and giving the people what they need," said Amoroso.

Councilman Buddy Amoroso has asked for the seven current CATS board members to resign and wants a strict set of guidelines to follow in appointing their replacements.

"We are trying to take a blend of the community of the people who are actually riders, professionals, people who have transit experience," said Amoroso.

Amoroso says he wants to have new members with backgrounds in engineering, business, and transit.

It is what Wesley and Amoroso are hoping will begin mending that trust between the city's transit system and a skeptical public.

"So this creates hopes, it's a new day, it's a fresh start and I think will give the new CATS board an opportunity to prove what they can do," said Wesley.

During the Metro Council meeting Wednesday, Amoroso asked to defer the item to get all of the CATS board members to resign. Council woman Donna Collins-Lewis asked for a substitute motion to completely delete the item from the agenda and Denise Marcelle seconded the motion. The vote to delete that item failed 6-5. The vote to defer passed 8-3. The item will be deferred for 60 days.

In the second proposal to adopt professional standards as criteria for the selection of future CATS board members, Metro Council approved the item with a 7-4 vote. Chauna Banks-Daniel, Denise Marcelle and Tara Wicker voted against the measure.

The new requirements go into effect immediately.

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