The longer the proposed route, the higher the ridership projections

July 17, 2015

Consultants are wrapping up a year-long feasibility study exploring passenger rail service from Shreveport-Bossier to Vicksburg, Mississippi.

They presented their findings Thursday as part of two public meetings held in Bossier City and Ruston. The Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments commissioned the study. It’s one of several underway from Texas to Mississippi.

The study found estimated ridership between Shreveport and Vicksburg would be 81,500 people annually. The yearly operating cost: $9.6 million with almost all of it subsidized.

NLCOG executive director Kent Rogers says when you fold in numbers from Dallas-Fort Worth to Vicksburg, the ridership doubles, and the study takes a very different turn.

“Shreveport to Vicksburg is low, but as soon as you add in Dallas-Fort Worth to Shreveport to Vicksburg those numbers jump astronomically and that’s going to continue to grow as you build on those longer segments,” Rogers said, following a 90-minute midday presentation at Bossier Parish Community College.

Randy Wade, passenger rail director for HNTB, delivered a PowerPoint presentation and fielded questions from an audience of about 30 people.

Madison, Wisconsin-based HNTB is an engineering and planning firm that carries out these types of passenger rail studies nationwide, and did this one. Wade says Dallas must be counted in order to show very compelling evidence of the need for passenger rail in these parts.

“You need to get the major population centers connected. You’re very close to Dallas. It’s a huge economy and there’s tremendous demand in terms of desire to travel. It looks like a lot of your casino and other tourist visitors come from the Dallas area,” Wade said. “A broader look at the corridor is important and the numbers bear that out.”

 

Read and hear the complete story from reporter Kate Archer Kent at Red River Radio by clicking here.

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