Grant will fund ‘taxi’ style curb-to-curb on-demand transportation pilot program

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The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) recently awarded the Rapides Area Planning Commission (RAPC) two grants to develop a short-term pilot program to begin a rural curb-to-curb demand response public transportation service in Grant and Natchitoches Parishes. 
According to Jonathan Bolen, Transportation Director, this service will be open to the public for all trips inside the combined Grant and Natchitoches Parish boundary. The curb-to-curb, on-demand rural transportation service will require a fare and to call in advance to schedule a ride.

“We’re building the program and relevant policies right now, but we will have a phone number to call and schedule a ride. We’re in the process of hiring a rural transit manager and have already acquired three of the four vehicles with the fourth on the way. The next step will be to hire and train drivers,” he said.
Healthcare, social services, economic development, education, local governance agencies and community partners identified transportation as a critical need and priority throughout the 12 parish Central Louisiana region.  
The short-term pilot program is part of a plan to incrementally and sustainably develop public transportation in parishes currently without rural public transportation service and have a relatively high unmet demand recommended by the Central Louisiana Rural Public Transportation Study adopted by the Alexandria-Pineville Metropolitan Planning Organization in December 2021. 
At this time, RAPC is in the process of building the pilot transit program and anticipates beginning rural public transportation service in Grant and Natchitoches Parishes later this year. 
Juanice Gray contributed to this article.