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Stuck for a Ride in Baton Rouge

“Something has to be done for people who live alone and can’t get around. They can’t go to the store. They can’t go to the bus stop. You’re stuck! That’s the way I feel. I cannot leave the house unless I beg the same people over and over and over and over. That’s my story.” – A woman who has multiple sclerosis living in Baton Rouge.

“My sister’s driving privileges were taken away unexpectedly so I’ve been driving her around to doctors and stores. I finally got her transportation arranged in Lafayette, but then I started thinking. She’s the oldest of eight. I’m the youngest. At some point in time, this could happen to me. What am I going to do when my time comes? Our options are limited.” – Sharon Judson, Baton Rouge

These are just some of the compelling and heart breaking stories shared at the AARP members’ meeting on mobility and transportation in Baton Rouge.

As people struggle with traffic congestion and high gas prices, the Capital Area Transit system faces its own struggles. Chronic budget crises, unreliable service, poor signage and stops, long wait and travel times plague the system.

It’s common for people to wait 75 minutes for a bus and then travel over two hours to get where they want to go.

“Even though I have a large family, I can’t always depend on them or ask them to take me places. I would very much like to ride the bus if it were a viable option. But I can’t wait 2 hours for a bus at my age,” said AARP member Janet Rhorer of Baton Rouge.

AARP members listened to a presentation about the public transit crisis and then participated in roundtable discussions to talk about the four proposed solutions being considered to fix the system.

The feedback members shared about the solutions and the new ideas they generated were given to Together Baton Rouge, a coalition of congregations and organizations in Baton Rouge that are working to improve the quality of life in the city-parish.

Mayor Kip Holden’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Public Transit, where AARP State Director Nancy McPherson served as Vice Chair, made final recommendations this year.

“The stories shared at the meeting were valuable in shaping the vision for a new system. One with reasonable wait and travel times, better routes and service, and new signage and bus stops,” said McPherson. “We’re hopeful a solution will be put to the entire Baton Rouge community in 2012 that includes a dedicated revenue source for transit.”

Do you have an experience with public transit? Concerned about your options in the future? Share your story with us!

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