BATON ROUGE – LA Swift, a free emergency Baton Rouge-to-New Orleans bus system for displaced residents, will kick off Monday as a 15-day pilot program.
LA Swift is designed to transport displaced residents with no transportation from Baton Rouge to New Orleans and back for jobs, job searches and similar recovery efforts.
Johnny B. Bradberry, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, said, “It’s important to the New Orleans economy that we get workers back on the job, and this is one way the state can help.”
Louisiana Department of Labor Secretary John Warner Smith said, “We hope this program will help many of the dislocated residents in the Baton Rouge area reconnect with their former employers or find new jobs. We definitely know that the New Orleans business community will be eager to have them back.
“We already have contacted a number of business and industry groups in the New Orleans area to make them aware of the potential employees that will be coming there,” he added.
Using climate-controlled coaches, LA Swift will operate seven days a week and initially make seven round-trips a day – leaving the Baton Rouge bus terminal on Florida between 4:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. and returning to Baton Rouge between 3 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
A free feeder bus will take commuters from the Groom Road FEMA community to the CATS terminal and back.
Commuters also can ride regular Baton Rouge buses to the terminal, but standard fares will be in place. Once riders get to the New Orleans drop-off point at Canal and Basin streets, buses from the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority, or NORTA, will connect to provide free service on 13 routes.
Bradberry noted that the schedule could be adjusted as evacuee demand requires.
“We’ll have to be flexible,” he said.
The program is being coordinated by DOTD and the Department of Labor in cooperation with Capital Area Transit System (CATS) and NORTA.
Federal Emergency Management Administration, which is supplying the buses and drivers, will evaluate ridership at the end of the pilot program on Monday, Nov. 14, to determine if it will continue.
Bradberry emphasized the need for evacuees to use this service during the next two weeks.
“We have to show FEMA that a need exists. So if this program can help you, please use it,” he said.
For more information, call DOTD’s Customer Service Center at (225) 379-1232 or toll-free at 1-877-4- LADOTD (1-877-452-3683).