Free bus service helping hundreds daily get to work, look for jobs in N.O.
BATON ROUGE, La. – LA Swift, the bus service between Baton Rouge and New Orleans for hurricane-displaced job seekers and employees, has reached the 200,000-rider mark less than a year after the service began.
The service’s popularity has grown consistently, from about 300 rides per weekday at its inception last October to about 900 per weekday now.
“These remarkable numbers are more evidence of the incredible spirit and determination of our people to work and be a part of the recovery of New Orleans,” Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco said. “I encourage more people to take advantage of LA Swift.”
LA Swift began operating on Oct. 31, 2005, two months after Hurricane Katrina devastated the New Orleans area. The Louisiana Recovery Authority initiative is coordinated by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) and the Louisiana Department of Labor (LDOL) in cooperation with the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority and the Capital Area Transit System. It is funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“The growth of LA Swift shows that Louisiana has an eager and willing workforce,” said Secretary of Labor John Warner Smith. “Each bus that leaves the terminal is improving some family’s situation and helping a business to survive.”
Results from an informal LDOL survey show that 85 percent of riders are either using the service to get to work or to find a job, usually in the construction or hospitality industries in New Orleans.
“The people doing the heavy lifting are the ones using LA Swift,” DOTD Secretary Johnny B. Bradberry said. “It is important that we keep this service rolling through this phase of the rebuilding.”
LA Swift began on a 14-day trial basis. As its popularity grew, FEMA extended funding through Nov. 30 of this year. The governor’s office, DOTD and LDOL have asked FEMA for another funding extension.
While LA Swift’s main focus has been to get people into jobs, the seven-day-a-week service has also become a popular means for displaced residents to get home to work on their damaged property and to conduct daily business in the Crescent City. Riders board buses in Baton Rouge, Sorrento and LaPlace. The rides terminate at the Elks Place and Canal Street in New Orleans.
Schedules and further details are available at www.laswift.com and through DOTD’s Customer Service Center at (225) 379-1232 or toll-free at 1-877-4LA-DOTD (1-877-452-3683).