Transportation discounts available

Published 2:43 am Saturday, January 30, 2016

The parish’s public transportation department is offering discounts for February rides inside the city limits of Franklinton and Bogalusa.

Nancy McBeth, the director for the Washington Parish Council on Aging, the office that oversees public transportation, said the discounts — a $6 round-trip instead of a $12 round-trip — are in part an effort to lure younger and new riders.

“We did one around Christmas but we got absolutely no feedback on it so we’re trying it again,” McBeth said. “Our senior ridership is great, but what we’re trying to target this to folks who are under 60 and who need trips for various things but they’re not using the service.”

As February includes Valentine’s Day, the discount program is known as the “Sweetheart Deal.”

McBeth said the service doesn’t work like a usual bus system. Instead of scheduled stops, riders need to call in advance to request a ride, and then the bus will pick them up from any location and take them to any location.

“We are rural public transportation, so we do not have a fixed route anywhere in the parish,” he said. “What we do is a curb-to-curb service on a demand response basis. Which means someone calls our transit number, and we ask that hey give us two days advance notice, and they request a ride to anywhere in the parish they need to go and we do daily schedules and we organize daily trips. We will transport anyone any age anywhere in the parish as long as we have advanced notice and space on the bus.”

The service begins at 6 a.m. and wraps up at 4 p.m. The transportation service doesn’t operate on the weekend.

The parish first began offering public transportation in 1983, but in 2011 fell on hard times. Up until 2011, the service began at 4 a.m., didn’t stop until 11 p.m. and offered daily trips to and from work for many parish residents.

“We lost one of our big funders in 2011,” McBeth said. “Since 2011, we’ve been trying to rebuild and get back to where we were.”

With more demand, she hopes the service can expand again.

“We’re thinking that if we can get them to use the service, they’ll see the convenience of it and use us again,” she said. “If we could get this thing going, we’d extend the operating hours.”

McBeth said riders can call either 985-732-6868 or 985-732-6871.