Sunday, July 17, 2005

Public transport in Shreveport-Bossier

Yesterday’s Shreveport Times had an excellent article about the Shreveport-Bossier metro area’s desperate need to reform its public transit system. The problem is simple to articulate: The public transit system doesn’t go where people need it to go and it doesn’t run when people need it to run. Doesn’t that sound like the exact opposite of everything mass transit is supposed to be? Local urban planning firm MHSM Architects maintains a website dedicated to research conducted thus far on the condition of the area’s transit system and proposals for tweaking the system so that it does what it ought to do. The Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments is playing a leading role in discussions on the reform of SporTran. The official SporTran website is here. The Shreveport Times article summarizes the SporTran findings and proposed solutions thus far: “The researchers from MHSM Architects identified census tracts with a high percentage of workers who have non-standard shifts and found that they all overlapped with neighborhoods where people have the least access to transportation.” “To design routes, they connected those neighborhoods with employers likely to need after-hours workers such as the LSU/Christus Schumpert/Willis Knighton North hospital cluster, the casinos and the Youree Drive/Bert Kouns Industrial Loop corridor. Those routes would run from 7 p.m. to midnight Mondays through Saturdays.” “The two options vary slightly. One forms loops on major corridors, has less wait time in the early hours and involves fewer buses. The other has an extra route into the neighborhoods but would cost more. Both run fewer busses than the day shift and have longer waits later at night.” The research done thus far is top-notch. The options presented for addressing the off-hour needs of SporTran’s rider-ship are sensible. It’s clear there’s a way to improve the current situation. But skeptics question whether the system needs tweaking at all. Take a look at the current SporTran service map and hours of operation. Would you be able to make a living by relying solely on that system to get you around?