Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) was honored as the safest transit system in the state by the North Carolina Public Transportation Association (NCPTA). This award is given to an urban transit system that travels over one million miles a year and has excellent performance in traffic and passenger safety.
CATS’ buses traveled over 12 million miles in 2008, carrying more than 19 million passengers and had only 0.43 preventable accidents per 100,000 miles. This represents a 17 percent reduction in preventable accidents as compared to 2007. Since 2001, preventable accidents are down 63 percent. During this same time period, CATS increased the amount of service on the street by 42 percent and ridership by 63 percent.
“Safety is our number one priority,” said Keith Parker, CATS’ CEO. “We are proud of the outstanding performance that more than 500 bus operators exhibit each day in transporting customers safely to their destination.” This is not the first time CATS has been acknowledged as the safest transit system in the state. Previous years include 1992, 1997, 1999, 2002 and 2007.
The transit system attributes its safety success to its driving training program that incorporates computer simulation, on-street practice, and refresher training. CATS uses the Smith System, an industry standard defensive driving program. This program is nationally proven to help reduce accidents. All new bus drivers go through an intensive six-week driving course that includes four weeks of safety training and two weeks of learning the bus routes. CATS’ employees also receive training in post-accident follow up and in Safe Work Methods.
At the NCPTA Annual meeting, CATS brought home team trophies in the 2009 State Bus Roadeo contes. The Bus Operations Division (BOD) team consisted of Lonny Earnhardt, James Wimbish and Junior Bush. The Special Transportation Service (STS) team was made up of Linville Plexico, Henry Minnet and Richard Fox.