LSU road flow change to impact game day bus services

LSU’s efforts to increase contraflow after football games in Tiger Stadium will limit the parish bus system’s game day shuttle services — a disappointment for Capital Area Transit System officials who were hoping to grow what was turning into a profitable program for the agency in recent years.

For the past few years, CATS has offered the Touchdown Express — a shuttle that ferries fans from downtown to LSU and back. It catered to out-of-towners in hotels, people who wanted to tailgate downtown and those who wanted to avoid parking on LSU’s congested campus.

Last year, it expanded service to L’Auberge Hotel and Casino.

In 2012, the program generated about $16,000, but as its popularity grew, so did the revenues. Last year, the program generated $73,000.

CATS CEO Bob Mirabito said this year the agency had planned on aggressively marketing the shuttle service and doubling its reach over last year.

But plans by LSU to impose a one-way contraflow on Nicholson Drive after games means CATS buses won’t be able to provide multiple trips back and forth after games to pick up fans and bring them back to their hotels and cars.

Mirabito said CATS will still have buses running back and forth for the three hours before the game starts to drop fans off at the stadium. But after the game, riders will only have one chance to hitch a ride.

As a result, CATS is limiting ticket sales to 1,000 customers per game. Last year, CATS buses hauled between 1,500 and 2,000 riders for some of the bigger rivalry games.

“My take is that it’s going to hurt us when we play Ole Miss and Alabama,” Mirabito said. “We’ll have more people that want to ride the bus than we’ll have seats.”

LSU and the Baton Rouge Police Department decided to increase contraflow after games in response to public outcry about traffic congestion getting off campus after games.

The Touchdown Express runs for all seven home games, beginning Sept. 6 with the Sam Houston State game. The pick up locations are at Hollywood Casino, Hotel Indigo, the River Road transit shelter, L’Auberge Casino and at Florida Street and the Interstate 110 underpass.

Tickets cost $10 round trip and can be purchased at the pickup locations.

Follow Rebekah Allen on Twitter @rebekahallen. For more coverage of city-parish government, follow City Hall Buzz blog at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/cityhallbuzz/.