CATS bus drivers speaking out against bus maintenance issues, some scared to get behind the wheel

Published: Sep. 30, 2021 at 6:33 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - A CATS bus driver made a call to headquarters when she started noticing smoke coming from her vehicle this past week while she was on route, “But approach this bus you can tell something burning…real loud.” One CATS worker, George Decuir, says he wasn’t surprised hearing what happened to his co-worker.

It’s why he called her immediately when he heard the news. “We were told that safety is of the utmost importance, however, when we call in safety defects it is ignored. So, every day you taking the bus out it’s in the back of your mind that I am putting my life at risk,” says Decuir.

Decuir says there have been issues like this in the past, cracked windshields, bad tires, ramps not working properly or just tons of warning lights lit up.

“We are told and we are advised to keep operating the bus if a check engine light is one as long as the engine light does not appear on, we are advised to keep driving the equipment,” says Decuir.

It’s become an issue to where workers are reporting to the Amalgamated Transit Union.

“On behalf of the workers at CATS, we are just asking for anybody that has governance of these safety issues to step in and help these workers,” says Stanley Small who is the senior organizer of the ATU.

WAFB sat down with the head officials from CATS to talk about some of the issues, like a cracked windshield.

“You also have to differentiate between a DOT violation of a windshield and just a windshield crack. If it is not in the line of sight of the operator it’s not a DOT safety violation,” says Micah Anthony who is the director of maintenance for CATS. Meaning CATS Maintenance does not have to replace it automatically.

When asked about their safety concerns, workers told us, “We understand their safety concerns and all issues that they have and we are willing to sit down and discuss any issues and concerns that they may have,” says Dwana Williams who is the chief operating officer.

CATS officials say the bus showing signs of smoke this past Tuesday was due to a belt that slipped because a pulley locked up, but they say there was no sign of a fire. No passengers were on the bus, and the driver of the bus was okay.

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