District 8 City-Parish Councilwoman Liz Webb Hebert has been working for more than two years to address the lack of bus stop shelters for Lafayette Transit System riders. Throughout the City of Lafayette, riders can catch a bus at 650 stops. However, of that number, only ten percent of local bus stops offer covered shelters, leaving riders vulnerable to Lafayette’s humid, sub-tropical climate.
According to Hebert, "The Adopt A Bus Stop initiative aims to build more covered shelters through generous donations from business partners and community leaders.” Hebert is working with local businesses to cover the cost of construction for sheltered stops through the new program, which was approved by the Lafayette City-Parish Council on Sept. 4. “These adopted stops, in addition to the 11 stops that LCG budgets for annually, make for an essential Public/Private partnership,” Hebert explained. The average cost of a three-sided bus shelter with a roof and concrete pad is $6,000.
Hebert has been successful in securing pledges from Lafayette General Medical Center, University of Louisiana, McDonalds of Acadiana, Lafayette Parish School System, UNITECH Training Academy, the Islamic Center of Lafayette, Pinhook Foundation, The Spark Foundation, and CGI to build more than 20 new sheltered bus stops.
Covered shelters will better serve riders by offering protection from the elements while in route to work, school, appointments and personal errands, for example. “With average temperatures over 80 degrees six months of the year, those waiting for a bus are often doing so in uncomfortable heat. That’s not to mention the chance of rain, especially during the summertime,” says Hebert. Lafayette experiences year-round precipitation with rain on an average of seven days every month. “Our humidity levels don’t just affect us when it’s hot. Damp and rainy conditions also worsen the ambient temperature during those rare cold spells. It’s a terrible experience to get caught in the rain, let alone on a cold day.”
Hebert’s Adopt A Stop program also supports the vision of Lafayette’s master plan. In PlanLafayette, citizens expressed an interest in increasing transit service to accommodate a growing and aging population and provide alternative modes of transportation to reach jobs and services. “As Lafayette continues to attract new residents and businesses, public buses will become more attractive for in-town commuters. That means now is the time to address the lack of sheltered stops for those transit riders,” stated Hebert.
Once on the bus, transit users can enjoy a dry and air-conditioned ride to their destination. “There’s even Wi-Fi access on our buses. But waiting for the bus can be an absolutely miserable experience because of weather. I know this program will benefit our existing riders’ all around transit experience,” Hebert continued. While the program is intended to make current transit users more comfortable, it has a long-term potential of also easing traffic congestion as more motorists opt for the bus over personal vehicles. “I’m hopeful that this could convert those who have been thinking about the bus as a safe, convenient, inexpensive transportation alternative.”