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Transit officials consider expansion of services for larger workforce

Last Modified: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 10:52 AM

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.

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