CATS board starts planning for new leadership

The Capital Area Transit System’s board of directors quickly accepted the resignation letter of Chief Executive Officer Brian Marshall on Thursday, and started making plans for new leadership of the bus system.

Board member Dalton Honoré II and Chief Financial Officer Gary Owens were assigned administrative authority until an interim CEO can be chosen to lead CATS, the agency that provides bus transportation services within the parish.

Board Chairman Isaiah Marshall, no relation to Brian Marshall, said an interim CEO will be selected at the May 21 meeting and to lead the agency for six to nine months, while a concurrent national search for a permanent CEO is selected.

That means the agency will be operating under temporary leadership this year as it pushes ahead with its massive expansion and service improvements plan, as promised in the 2012 tax election.

But Isaiah Marshall said this is the change the public wanted.

“They should be comforted in seeing that change has happened and we’re moving in a new direction,” he said in an interview. “It’s going to take change to get us to where we need to be.”

CATS is accepting applications for the interim CEO now at catsceosearch@lindsayabadie.com.

The board will form a committee to vet interim CEO applications, he said.

He said he’s aware of at least one application so far — from Bill DeVille, who applied in 2009 when Brian Marshall was hired. Deville is a former general manager of the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority.

Brian Marshall was a major part of developing the goals from the 2014 tax election and the timeline to deliver the goals. The goals include adding buses and routes, improving bus shelters and ultimately reducing wait times to 15 minutes during peak hours.

Isaiah Marshall said some the agency’s implementation plans could be adjusted depending on the recommendations of a new leader.

“There will be some flexibility,” he said. “We could see some adaptations.”

Owens said he was sad to see Brian Marshall resign, but believes the agency will be able to continue moving forward to deliver service as promised.

“We’ve been in this position before without a CEO, but what’s happening right now is we’re still moving along with getting a project manager that’s going to manage the implementation stages of our new system,” he said.

Meanwhile, some employees say the announcement of Brian Marshall’s resignation has lifted spirits among rank and file system employees.

“When I came to work yesterday, I had seen more smiles before 8 in the morning then I have in a year,” said Pat Smiley, a maintenance employee. “It’s like a big weight has been lifted.”