Transit officials consider expansion of services for larger workforce

By By John Guidroz / American Press

Two local public transit officials met

last week with subcommittees of the Southwest Louisiana Task Force for

Growth and Opportunity,

or Go Group, to discuss the scope of services being provided and

accommodating the expected influx of people working on industrial

projects like the Magnolia LNG facility and the Sasol expansion in

Westlake.

Al Hoover, transit manager for the city

of Lake Charles, and Keith Citizen, transportation manager for the

Calcasieu Parish

Public Transit System, met with the education and workforce

development subcommittees. During the meeting, subcommittee members

asked if the city and parish could provide transportation for

people taking training courses at Sowela Technical Community

College, McNeese State University and other schools.

R.B. Smith, co-chairman of the workforce development subcommittee, said members also discussed the option of expanding the

transit systems or using them as part of a larger transit system.

“There’s no one simple solution,” he said. “We’re trying to explore things right now. We don’t have any answers.”

Hoover told the group that the city’s buses are not at full capacity. Smith said the city’s transit system runs 5:45 a.m.-5:45

p.m.

“We need to encourage more ridership on the city because it’s there,” Smith said. “There are some peak hours, but we do have

capacity to grow there.”

Citizen said the parish would need six

more buses and drivers to accommodate for the additional riders. The

parish has 10

buses providing transportation services throughout the parish, he

said. He said the buses are “swamped” in the early morning

and late afternoon.

“Even if I had all 10 buses running, we can’t meet the demands of the whole parish,” Citizen said. “We have eight drivers

right now who work eight hours a day.”

Citizen said the parish has a “curb-to-curb” service 5 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

“We pick you up at your front door and then drop you off at your destination,” he said.

Citizen said the parish also provides

the Job Access and Reverse Commute Program, which takes parents to work

and their children

to a day care facility and then takes them home in the afternoon.

The transit system also takes seniors to shop for groceries

twice a month; provides transportation to Medicaid appointments

five days a week; and takes people to dialysis centers at

least three days a week.

Citizen said the state Department of Transportation and Development funds 80 percent of the transit system. He said drivers

are required to provide transportation in rural areas of the parish.

Smith said the two subcommittees are scheduled to meet Sept. 17.