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Capital Area Transit System preparing to spend money to improve its operations and its image


BATON ROUGE, Louisiana — The Capital Area Transit System is preparing to spend some serious money to improve its operations — and its image.

The Advocate reports ( the board will be asked to approve purchasing eight new buses at a cost of $450,000 each to replace vehicles in its aging fleet. The agency also is looking to sign a contract capped at $50,000 a year with Baton Rouge firm Covalent Logic for public relations.

When CATS went searching for the firm, it asked for experience with public relations, media planning, marketing and, perhaps most importantly for an agency that has seen more than its share of controversies," crisis management."

CATS, while gradually improving service, has faced one crisis after another the past few years since the tax was passed. CATS' public image meltdown started with former board member Montrell McCaleb, who was accused of using the agency's money to pay personal bills.

Despite management overhauls, the agency continues to endure chaos as its current CEO Bob Mirabito has gone head-to-head in an angry battle with its union this year that accused him of disrespect and mismanagement and asked him to resign.

A customer survey showed riders were increasingly dissatisfied with service over the previous year. The agency also got mixed grades from the group Together Baton Rouge, which complained CATS still was lagging in fulfilling commitments to riders to improve services.

At the time, Mirabito said he thought some of the survey results could have been impacted by the wave of bad publicity associated with his own employees picketing the agency.

He also has continued to say the agency's service quality is affected by its out-of-date fleet, which is prone to breakdowns.

Information from: The Advocate,

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