Lanny Keller: A new commuter line makes sense for Baton Rouge to Crescent City

The above headline is wrong, if you talk to people in the transportation funding world. The “commuter” part that is, not the making-sense part.

That’s because cobbling together funding for the passenger train service between Baton Rouge and New Orleans is dependent on the rules of various federal programs. Intercity rail is a different category, apparently, than “commuter” rail.

But one of the dirty secrets of Baton Rouge-to-New Orleans intercity rails is that they would be a commuter line.

The substantial number of commuters already driving between the capital city and the Crescent City is growing, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber reports in a new study of the issue.

There is, of course, the issue of hurricane evacuation: “In light of the many thousands of southeast Louisiana residents without reliable access to a personal vehicle, and the lessons learned from (hurricane) Katrina and other recent disasters, resiliency is a critically important part of any conversation on infrastructure, and one that a rail line is uniquely qualified to address.”

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