Public bus service boosts opportunity

The Terrebonne Parish Council should approve a measure that would expand Good Earth Transit System bus service into Lafourche Parish and in turn open routes for increased development in the Houma-Thibodaux urban area.

During their regular meeting tonight, council members will introduce an ordinance to amend the 2011 budget and make use of $211,490 to expand bus service from Houma in Terrebonne Parish to Thibodaux in Lafourche Parish. More than $86,000 in reimbursements could be offered back to Terrebonne Parish from the city of Thibodaux by way of the Federal Transit Administration Fund.

Such a move would open routes of alternative transportation for commuters who already travel between Houma and Thibodaux for work, offer a regular ride for students traveling to either Nichols State University or Fletcher Technical Community College, and would benefit lower income individuals that have no other reliable means of transportation a source by which they can secure and keep retail and service industry jobs.

According to the American Public Transportation Association, between 1995 and 2010 public transportation ridership, involving both workers and tourists, increased more than 31 percent.

Research shows that for every $1 invested in public transportation there is a $4 return in economic development ranging from daily commuters to riders taking in shopping areas, restaurants, and regional events and attractions.

Nationally, for every $10 million invested in public transportation operations there has been a $30 million boost in business sales.

As for environmental and infrastructure concerns, public transportation diminishes wear and tear on roads and motor vehicles and reduces carbon emissions by an estimated 4,800 pounds a year per person that switches to public transportation.

Some large cities have reduced public transportation budgets, but have not seen any directly related improvements to their economic conditions by doing so.

Public transportation, when marketed and managed properly, can boost opportunities for current residents and attract businesses to a region where it is available.

It is more financially efficient for both the Terrebonne Consolidated Government and the city of Thibodaux to enter into a cooperative endeavor agreement to benefit the entire urban area than to compete separately.

An opportunity for public input regarding the proposal will be held Feb. 9 at the Terrebonne Government Building.

Elected officials and residents throughout the region should contribute their thoughts on this proposal. Otherwise, they might miss the bus.