Jefferson Parish plans to add up to 21 new bus shelters

Jefferson Parish board has $174,000 in federal grants for work

Jefferson Parish transit users could get some new accommodations if the Parish Council approves the construction of up to 21 bus shelters throughout the parish.

At its Wednesday meeting, the board is scheduled to consider authorizing the parish’s Purchasing Department to seek bids for the work. The parish has about $174,000 from a variety of federal grants to pay for the shelters.

Jefferson Transit Director Ryan Brown said his agency wants to not only replace some of the parish’s existing, dilapidated shelters with new ones but also add shelters to locations that do not have them.

Jefferson Parish has 131 shelters, but about 89 of those are owned by Laurel Outdoor LLC, which uses them for advertising. The new contract would be for the purchase of prefabricated, nonadvertising shelters that would be installed and maintained by Laurel.

Brown said the shelters, which are 9 feet tall and include 4-foot-long benches, will be installed at locations determined by ridership, residents requests and transit surveys. Some of the areas are in remote parts of the parish that have never had shelters, he said.

“There’s still some areas that need shelters and don’t have shelters,” Brown said.

However, the proposed upgrade is part of a larger plan to revamp the parish’s shelters entirely. In addition to the shelter purchase, the council also will consider extending and amending its contract with Laurel Outdoor for an additional two years with an eye toward increasing the number of new shelters in the parish.

Brown said Laurel Outdoor pays the parish based on how many ads are sold on the shelters it owns. The company paid $27,000 last year, Brown said. Parish officials are considering whether they need to revamp their deal to allow the parish to take over ownership of shelters and sell the ad space itself.

However, one problem with that plan is the cost of acquiring all of the shelters, Brown said. He said the new shelters the council is considering will not have advertising, but instead will have information on bus schedules and routes, similar to what’s contained on informational kiosks the council approved last year.

“Our goal is to have all new shelters,” Brown said.

Council members also could finalize a three-year contract with Go-Graphics LLC, of Metairie, to handle advertising on benches at bus stops. That agreement was initially discussed by the parish in November after the firm was selected by the parish’s Purchasing Department amid some mild controversy.

Go-Graphics has held the advertising deal since 2004 when it was selected despite offering the parish the least amount of money and having very little experience.

The company’s principals have some political connections, and the company has made campaign contributions to several council members.

When the new agreement was considered last year, Go-Graphic’s only competitor was a Canadian company, Creative Outdoor, which had its proposal tossed because it failed to provide the parish with a list of its campaign contributions to local politicians. Under the previous contract, Go-Graphics paid the parish $402,000 in seven years.