Landrieu and Baker Ask FEMA to Continue La. Emergency Public Transportation
United States Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., and Representative Richard H. Baker, R-La., with the backing of the entire Louisiana delegation, are urging David Paulison, undersecretary of Homeland Security for Federal Emergency Management, to reconsider FEMA's decision to discontinue funding for emergency bus services in Louisiana. In an October 26 letter to the Louisiana Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, FEMA announced it would not renew funding for LA Swift, the bus service between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, and funding for Emergency Public Transportation Services, which provides added public bus transportation in the two cities.
The emergency public transportation services were implemented under The Stafford Act to alleviate the devastating effects in southeast Louisiana of Hurricane Katrina and the levee breaks that followed. As of November 30, 2006, FEMA says it will not extend the services because the situation in Louisiana is "stable."
"It would be grossly inaccurate to categorize New Orleans and the surrounding area as having returned to a 'normal pattern of life,'" Sen. Landrieu and Baton Rouge area Rep. Baker wrote in a letter sent to Paulison this week, which was signed by the delegation. "[I]n order to achieve a 'stable situation' further transportation access must be maintained, a task that will be exceedingly difficult without FEMA's resources."
Sen. Landrieu and Rep. Baker responded to a request from the Regional Transit Authority to intervene because riders in the two cities depend on the service for their recovery. Since the storm, LA Swift has carried 210,000 passengers, and in August alone, the Emergency Public Transportation Service carried 160,000 riders.
"As the City of New Orleans and the surrounding metropolitan area rebuilds and redevelops economically, the public transit services provided through the FEMA funded missions are essential to the continued progress of the entire region," the delegation wrote.