CATS board votes to eliminate Red Stick Trolley line

CATS board votes to eliminate Red Stick Trolley line

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Capital Area Transit System has decided to do away with a Garden District bus route that has had issues finding riders.

The CATS Board voted unanimously Tuesday to eliminate the Red Stick Trolley line. The East Baton Rouge Metro Council will have to approve the plan.

"Because of the low ridership and the cost involved, we felt it is necessary that we recommend that we eliminate this line," said Jim Brandt, the president of the CATS board.

The Red Stick Trolley, formally known as the Garden District Trolley, has been in operation since January 2015. The route winds through the Garden District and parts of downtown Baton Rouge.

Over its more than 16 months of operation, the trolley line has averaged just nine passengers each day.

"What we try to do is recover 10 percent of the revenue we need from the fair box, and this was probably less than 1 percent," Brandt said.

CATS tried to increase the ridership by attracting new riders with events and marketing. However, Brandt said those efforts only temporarily doubled ridership – up to 20 per day.

Running the trolley line comes with a $650,000 price tag each year. Brandt said he believes that money should be reallocated.

"As a service to our customers, we felt we would be better off using it for different lines," Brandt said, pointing to Highland Road, Plank Road, Florida Boulevard, and Bluebonnet Boulevard as examples.

That is an idea supported by new CEO William "Bill" Deville. During Tuesday's meeting, the board also voted to officially name Deville the CATS CEO to succeed former CEO Bob Mirabito. Deville had served as interim CEO since April.

"We've found some routes that are poorly performing, we've found some routes that we can make better with more frequency," Deville said after the meeting.

He would like to use the savings from the trolley to help put more buses on busier routes.

"We need to have a system where you have service every 15 to 30 minutes – not 15, 30, 45, hour, or an hour and a half. It needs to be reduced, consistent, and reliable," Deville said.

Deville said that if a trolley-like concept is tried again, they need to be more proactive in advertising and community outreach.

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