Charlotte Mayor: CATS ‘shortcomings’ were unknown to City Council

Charlotte Mayor: CATS ‘shortcomings’ were unknown to City Council
Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 5:04 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles addressed the recent revelations of problems facing the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) -- and said the ‘shortcomings’ were unknown to City Council and the Metropolitan Transit Commission -- until last week, when a report was made public detailing concerns with the system.

WBTV obtained the report through a records request with NCDOT and identified several major issues LYNX riders should know about.


“The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) plays an integral and critical role for the City of Charlotte and the region. As the chair of the Metropolitan Transit Commission (MTC) and the Mayor of Charlotte, I know how valuable CATS is to our region. It is vital that the bus and rail systems are safe and reliable,” Lyles said.

Related: CATS light rail maintenance “overhaul” delayed for years before derailment

Despite not knowing about the specific issues Lyles said the city has been working to improve the transit system.

“Over the last six months, we have made significant progress in improving CATS and ensuring that it operates at its best. However, there is still more work to be done, and we remain committed to continuing this important work in the coming weeks, months and years,” Lyles said.

Much of that change came after a months-long investigation by WBTV investigative reporter David Hodges, who was first to uncover issues with CATS bus reliability, questions about bus safety issues and issues with spending and budget.

Lyles said the City Manager and CATS Interim CEO Brent Cagle face a ‘critical challenge’ to bring CATS up to the community’s expectations.

Related: CATS releases ‘report’ finding problems with procurement and finance; City claims CFO resigning unrelated

“While there will be difficult conversations and tough decisions, we are committed to moving forward. We have already taken steps in the right direction. Changes in CATS’ senior leadership, such as the turnover of the Chief Executive Officer, the Chief Financial Officer and the Chief Operations Officer, have brought clarity to the need for change,” Lyles said.

Three entities share responsibility for the oversight of the performance of CATS; The City of Charlotte, Charlotte City Council, and the MTC.

“One of the most significant challenges facing CATS is the governance and reporting structure in which CATS is a city department but serves a regional role and has two major policy bodies which leads “to confusion about decision making authority” and “needs real change,’” she said.

Related: REPORT: Charlotte LYNX manager “directed controllers to violate safety rules” at last job

There’s also an intergovernmental agreement that includes nine different governmental entities, and Lyles said it’s time to take another look at that agreement as the city and region continue to grow.

“When CATS was formed more than 20 years ago, Charlotte and our region were very different. It is time to examine our current interlocal agreement between the city, county and six towns, including Huntersville, Cornelius, Davidson, Pineville, Matthews and Mint Hill, which are all signatories to the agreement,” Lyles said.

“While this agreement outlines the roles and responsibilities of the MTC, the City of Charlotte and the Charlotte City Council, there is overlap and a lack of clarity. We’ve grown beyond our current county-wide effort, and perhaps it’s time to look at a regional authority with more direct responsibility.”

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