Bus program pushed back, not forgotten

Target date for a bus transit program connecting Crowley and Lafayette — and points in between along U.S. Highway 90 — has been pushed back.
Originally planned to begin in March of this year, the program kick-off “will probably be in the summer of 2018,” according to Laurie Suire, president and CEO of OneAcadia.
Funded by a Rural Business Development Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Acadiana Planning Commission, the aim of the pilot program is to connect Acadiana.
“Right now it looks like Lafayette Transit System will likely be the operator and provider for the route,” Suire said. “Lafayette Consolidated Government’s budgeting process is in November and LCG administration has given preliminary support for the program, pending council approval.”
Suire said a marketing firm has been retained to work up a name and “brand” for the program and “we continue to work closely with them and with APC on the project.”
The preliminary plan calls for four trips from Crowley to Lafayette each morning, the earliest rolling around 5:30 a.m. The buses would also make two trips back from Lafayette to Crowley during the morning hours.
In the afternoon and evening, the reverse would hold true — four trips from Lafayette to Crowley, two from Crowley to Lafayette.
The final trip of the day would arrive back in Crowley around 7 o’clock in the evening.
All that with stops along the route, including in Rayne.
The buses themselves will probably have about 40 regular seats and be handicap accessible.
Rayne would have two stops along the route, according to Suire. South Rayne Park and the American Legion Home have been considered as stops.
However, Suire said since those two locations are in such close proximity, probably only one will be chosen and a second stop will be located in another area of Rayne, possibly farther east along U.S. 90.
There will be “a handful of stops” in Crowley, the two in Rayne, one in Duson, two in Scott and four in Lafayette, according to plans on the drawing board at this time, Suire said.
“The primary ridership will be workforce and students,” she said. “This program expands the workplace opportunity for people having a hard time finding jobs and for those who might lack reliable transportation.
“It also helps parents plan for their children’s post-high school education” since among the stops in Lafayette are SLCC and UL Lafayette.
The system also provides for “day trips” to Lafayette without the necessity of “fighting the traffic,” Suire said.
“I’ve had a number of elderly people call me at home asking about it already,” she said. “I think it could be a very cool experience for families and also for the tourism industry.
“People from larger cities are used to such transportation systems, they expect it and seek it.”
The ultimate goal of the pilot program is that it be replicated among other communities in the Acadiana region.
“Very few, if any programs such as this exist in the country, which is why APC was awarded the grant,” Suire said.
“The good news is that the administrations of all the involved communities are on board to provide this service to their citizens. But if we’re going to have this service, we’re all going to have to do our part and use it.”

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