Apr 4, 2024 - Transit

CATS is becoming safer, leaders claim

Brent Cagle accepts TSA award at a podium

TSA Assistant Administrator Sonya Proctor presents the Gold Standard Award to CATS Interim CEO Brent Cagle. Photo: Alexandria Sands/Axios

Charlotte Area Transit System has been awarded the highest federal honor for "outstanding security measures and emergency preparedness."

Why it matters: CATS isn't exactly known for safety.

Yes, but: Interim CEO Brent Cagle, who joined CATS in 2022 amid a chaotic overhaul of the system, tells Axios efforts to improve and prioritize safety over the last year are paying off.

How it works: About six months ago, the Transportation Security Administration reviewed CATS' security plans, training, drills, background checks and other operations.

  • CATS scored over 90%, says TSA assistant administrator Sonya Proctor.
  • Of the 58 agencies TSA looked at this year, CATS was among the five top scorers.

Between the lines: CATS has doubled its spending on security and hired two contractors — local company PSS and Strategic Security Solutions — to replace Allied Universal Security. They're continuing to staff up to around 100 armed and unarmed officers on board.

  • It's also placed "ambassadors" on buses to answer questions and ease confusion, which is expected to keep frustrating situations from escalating.
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