The main cause of the current transit funding problem is the lack of a dedicated funding source, which is how transportation systems across the country - from roads to buses to streetcars - fund themselves. CATS has also lost $1.1 million in federal assistance over the last year, funding that was crucial to help pay for the increased disability transportation services the system is federally mandated to provide. The demand for these service in Baton Rouge rose sharply after Hurricane Katrina, and with each of these paratransit trips costing the agency $28 per rider, the agency has felt the added financial impact.
Peer Cities: How does Baton Rouge stack up?
Without a dedicated funding source, CATS relies on funds from federal, state and local sources. As a result, Baton Rouge is paying significantly less than peer cities for transit service. Though the city of Charlotte has one of the most impressive transit services in the South, local residents are willing to pay for the on time buses, innovative light rail, and continued transit expansion. But even in cities with less-renowned systems - like Memphis - per capita funding is still nearly double that of Baton Rouge.
Fares: They're not supposed to cover everything.
A common misconception is that fares cover the costs of the transit system. The truth is, in a healthy transit system, fares cover very little of system's overall budget. Just like roads, most transit systems are supported by taxes.
Financial Responsibility: Is CATS financially efficient?
The chart below compares CATS current expenditures to peer cities on the basis of four financial efficiency measures: money spent per vehicle mile, money spent per vehicle hour, money spent per passenger mile and money spent per passenger hour. In all four categories, CATS is spending less per unit output than peer cities.