CATS seeks contract program manager to help boost service

The Capital Area Transit System system is seeking a temporary program manager to oversee improvements to the public bus service promised in the 2012 property tax election.

The request for proposals was uploaded Wednesday to the transit agency’s web site.

The position will last 18 months, according to the RFP, which calls for a program manager to report to the chief executive officer and manage the service changes laid out in the CATS implementation plan.

The program manager, which may be a team or an individual, will be selected based on a “combination of expertise, production and price,” and not necessarily based on the lowest price, the RFP says.

“It helps to strengthen the team capacity to ensure we can meet our 2014 goals,” said CATS board chairman Isaiah Marshall.

Marshall said there could be staff changes and additions, as well as other contracted positions, while CATS continues to expand its service.

For the past few months, CATS board members have debated the best management structure to lead the agency now that it has a dedicated tax revenue.

Voters in Baton Rouge and Baker last April approved a property tax for CATS after the agency promised to implement aggressive service improvements and expansions by 2014. Voters in Zachary rejected the tax. The tax election excluded voters in Central and the unincorporated areas of the parish.

The 10-year, 10.6-mill property tax is expected to generate about $15.3 million a year.

In January, a consulting firm hired by CATS recommended the transit agency outsource several management positions to lead it through its transition.

The board considered the report over the following weeks — to the dismay of the CATS staff — but ultimately concluded it would bring in temporary contracted assistance that would work for and with the current staff in place.

The deadline for proposals for the temporary program manager position is April 22, and the estimated date the contract will be awarded is May 21.

The new program manager is expected to begin June 1, according to the RFP.

CATS has promised to decrease wait times from an average of 75 minutes to 15 minutes at peak hours by early 2014. It will do so by establishing new transfer centers, and changing the route system to a more efficient grid system.

Other promises the CATS program manager will be in charge of include adding new bus shelters and benches, adding more-informative signs to the bus stops, adding buses and new routes, and creating new express- and limited-stop lines.