TRANSIT: New Orleans public transit revamp still being shaped

April 25, 2017

A transit advocacy group is pushing for more transit growth in the city

Ride New Orleans, a transit advocacy group, repeated its call last week to have wait times and travel distances reduced for people in the city who rely on buses and streetcars to get on with their everyday lives.

The group hopes to influence the planning phase of what is being called the Regional Transit Authority's (RTA) "strategic mobility plan," which is part of a long-term, comprehensive strategy to grow public transit in and around New Orleans. When finished, it will be the first-ever blueprint of goals and tactics to improve public transportation across a system still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina more than a decade ago.

The RTA hired the consulting firm Nelson Nygaard in September at a price close to $1 million to craft the plan over the next year or so. The firm has held public meetings and begun contacting targeted groups of stakeholders, including business leaders and neighborhood associations.

At the heart of the conversation is equity. In an impoverished city with a high number of residents without access to a vehicle, public transit can be a lifeline or an obstacle to jobs, schools, healthcare and grocery stores.

That understanding is what is spurring discussions over how to make the buses and streetcars run more frequently and serve the most critical parts of the city. It has also renewed talk about pushing service past neighboring parish boundaries.

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