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This fall, University of Louisiana at Lafayette students who commute to and from four Acadiana communities can let someone else do the driving.

That’s thanks to Ride Acadiana, a pilot transit program that will launch Monday, Aug. 20, the first day of the Fall 2018 semester. On weekdays, buses will travel round trip between Lafayette and the communities of Crowley, Duson, Rayne and Scott. One of its stops is UL Lafayette’s Edith Garland Dupré Library.

Passengers can ride for free through Friday, Aug. 24, city transit officials announced Thursday. 

Patricia Cottonham, UL Lafayette’s vice president for Student Affairs, said students who use the commuter service “aren’t only getting a ride to campus and a ride home. The transit program also provides the opportunity to study, review class notes or decompress while someone else takes the wheel.”

South Louisiana Community College is also a stop, and commuters who work in Lafayette or people whose doctors are in the city can use it as well, said Monique Boulet, the Acadiana Planning Commission’s chief executive officer.

The planning commission is administering the program in cooperation with Lafayette Consolidated Government. A U.S. Department of Agriculture grant is funding it with support from the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.

“Ride Acadiana will provide commuters between Acadia Parish and Lafayette with easy, affordable access to transportation, with the additional benefit of reducing the number of vehicles on the road,” Boulet said.

And fewer vehicles on the road are good for the environment, said Gretchen Lacombe Vanicor, director of the Office of Sustainability.

UL Lafayette’s Sustainability Strategic Plan encourages ride-sharing and public transit use among students and faculty as a way to reduce harmful emissions.

“Sharing rides or taking the bus alleviates traffic congestion; that’s the immediate benefit. But in the long term, sustainable transportation choices limit the production of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide,” Vanicor said.

Eight daily trips – four to Lafayette and four return journeys  – are planned initially. If successful, service could be extended to other parishes, Boulet said.

Lafayette Consolidated Government will provide two, 16-seat buses that will run Mondays through Fridays, from 5:30 a.m. to noon, and from 1-8 p.m.

There are seven stops in the Hub City, including Dupré Library, SLCC and Lafayette General Medical Center. Others include: Acadia General Hospital and the Wal-Mart Supercenter, in Crowley; Duson City Hall; Southside Community Center and U.S. Post Office, in Rayne; and Scott Market in Scott.

There are 20 stops all together; a complete list can be found here. The website also includes fare information and maps of the routes.