BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Louisiana Secretary of State is taking the Capital Area Transit System (CATS) to court over one of its main bus stops. Tom Schedler's office said the hub in front of the Old State Capitol is a safety hazard to children and tourists.
The Old State Capitol has become a hot spot for tourists, events and wedding receptions. It is also a popular CATS bus stop. It is not uncommon to find buses parked in front of the main entrance of the historic building on North Boulevard. The Secretary of State's Office, which oversees the building, said it is a big problem.
According to the lawsuit filed by Schedler's office, despite numerous requests to move the bus hub, CATS has not done so.
The petition states CATS is "endangering visitors of the Old State Capitol because the buses inhibit handicap access and the ability of school and tour buses to deliver visitors." Furthermore, "the buses block fire lanes, which presents a danger to the building."
Schedler's office sent a letter to CATS CEO Bob Mirabito on Tuesday, stating "ultimately our intention is to amicably resolve these concerns by setting a firm date for the bus hub to be permanently relocated." Schedler offered to scrap the suit if CATS agrees to relocate by January 18, 2016.
Mirabito's office sent a response through CATS Board President Donna Collins-Lewis, who stated, "We are disappointed with this turn of events. For the better part of 18 months CATS has worked to find a downtown hub that is suitable for all interested parties."
The letter also includes a timeline outlining several attempts by CATS to relocate its hub to other locations downtown including one at North Seventh Street and another at the intersection of Third and Lafayette Street. CATS said both drew opposition from local business owners.
Regardless, the Secretary of State's Office said it has given CATS several deadlines to come up with a relocation plan, but that has not happened. They hope a judge will set a permanent one in motion.
Lewis said CATS is working to find a suitable hub location, but also stated CATS cannot do it alone. She said that the cooperation of invested stakeholders is needed.
Neither Schedler nor Mirabito were available for interviews on the lawsuit.