The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) is spending almost $1 million to create a long-term strategic transit plan for the next 20 years. Called the “Strategic Mobility Plan,” this process is a great opportunity for New Orleans transit riders to win a step-by-step, community-supported process to make our transit system more equitable and more effective. Ride New Orleans is focused on winning a strong, community-supported strategic plan in 2017 and will keep supporters informed at key moments of the process.
The RTA released their draft set of goals and benchmarks for the long-term strategic plan on May 16. The goals are on the right track – so far. There is a strong focus on reliability, improving connections, transparency, and equity.
But there is still a long way to go and just because the goals look acceptable now, there is no guarantee about the ultimate plan.
The draft goals are very big picture and far from a complete plan. This is not a problem – yet. This phase of the process is meant to be very big-picture. But it will be up to transit riders and advocates to pay attention in the next few months and make sure that the RTA adds specific strategies and timelines for accomplishing the well-intentioned goals we see now.
In the next few months, we must finalize goals and benchmarks/objectives, and determine how to accomplish those goals with a set of detailed strategies for both the next few years and into the next two decades. (To better understand what that means, see our analysis). The RTA expects the plan to be completed and approved by the end of the year.
This is the most important time for community input. Transit riders will have their first chance to directly weigh in on these draft goals and objectives at two public meetings in early June:
You can see the detailed draft description of goals here and the basic goals are below:
As noted above, we like what we see in general but it’s way too early and these goals are too general to draw strong conclusions beyond that.
We think a very good strategic plan could come out of these goals, but transit riders will have to raise their voices all summer for a plan to create a more reliable, frequent, connected, and regional transit system.
We encourage you to go to public meetings like the ones listed above and weigh in. We want to see a good plan come out of these goals – one that can realistically be implemented. With that in mind, we ask that transit riders focus on the following two points at the meeting, in addition to the points you feel are important:
For a more detailed analysis of questions the plan needs to answer, please see our April update. We’ll continue to update you on progress and other opportunities to get involved.
The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) is spending almost $1 million to create a long-term strategic transit plan for the next 20 years. Called the “Strategic Mobility Plan,” this process is a great opportunity for New Orleans transit riders to win a step-by-step, community-supported process to make our transit system more equitable and more effective.
But there’s no guarantee that this will be the end result. Without the right approach and without community support, we risk wasting these funds and squandering an important chance to improve transit. That’s why Ride New Orleans will make sure the community knows what’s going on and push for policies and solutions that will help today’s riders as much and as quickly as possible.
The upcoming five to six months may be the most important time for the community to weigh in. During this period, the RTA will release draft goals, objectives, and strategies to make those objectives happen.
In more practical terms, this is the time where, for instance, we might:
While we absolutely need to see much more than just the three examples above, all of them would make transit work much better for existing riders and would give the RTA specific marching orders for how to implement and prioritize improvements in the coming years.
That’s basically what we need to get out of this process – a clear, community-supported way to make NOLA transit work better for the people who count on it.
On May 16th, the RTA will release draft goals and objectives. They say these goals and objectives will reflect both a previous round of community input over the winter and internal data gathering and analysis about transit needs today and over the next two decades. They expected to start public outreach around the draft goals and objectives in early June.
They then plan to update the goals and objective based on feedback and propose a package of different strategies for the community to evaluate and weigh. That part will likely take place in August and September. That will lead to a draft version of the full plan which is scheduled to be finalized by the end of 2017.
We’ll have more details and analysis on all of these pieces as they are made public. We will also let you know how to make your voice heard in this process .
And be ready – we may need your help to tell the RTA that they need to ensure additional public meetings and bring additional voices into the process.
In the meantime, you can catch up on recommendations we’ve already made:
We got some good news yesterday!
The Council and Mayor’s office both publicly pledged to fund and build a new pedestrian bridge over the freight railroad tracks near the Canal Street ferry terminal.
Most importantly, they pledged to do so in the same time period as the construction of the new ferry terminal. The pledge came via a Council resolution and the public assurances of the Mayor’s office.
We want to send a big ‘thank you’ to all the Councilmembers for their pledge yesterday – and our gratitude to you and the hundreds of other residents who made this happen.
This is a really important win that didn’t look possible several weeks ago.
Now, transit riders likely won’t have to face a big step backwards in transit accessibility and reliability. That was our greatest fear when we first saw that the plans for the new ferry terminal called for the elimination of the existing pedestrian bridge.
But it’s important to stress this isn’t a complete victory yet. We still have several concerns:
But, for the moment, we are happy that one of the biggest issues is on track to being resolved.
We’re looking forward to working with city officials, Algiers residents, and transit riders throughout the city to make sure that this story does indeed end with a win for New Orleans transit.
March 22 Fix the Design Disaster Rally: The new ferry terminal proposal is a “Design Disaster” for riders. It eliminates both the footbridge over the freight railroad tracks and cover from the heavy rain and hot sun that define New Orleans for much of the year. That’s a serious step backward for transit riders and our city. Please join us and other riders on Wednesday March 22 from 4:00 to 4:30 p.m. at the intersection of Canal and Convention Center Boulevard to rally for a better design!
WHO: Ride New Orleans, Friends of the Ferry, Algiers residents and community organizations, and transit riders.
WHAT: A public rally at the foot of Canal Street to highlight how the new ferry terminal will be a big loss for transit riders if built as currently designed. Advocates will ask city officials to commit to improving the design by adding a pedestrian walkway over the freight railroad tracks and shelter from the elements for riders as they approach and leave the ferry.
WHERE: Intersection of Canal and Convention Center Boulevard at the base of the ferry terminal walkway
WHEN: Wednesday, March 22, 2017 from 4:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Thanks to everyone who attended Ride’s West Bank Transit Forum! We had a great panel discussion and a diverse set questions and answers brought up from West Bank residents. If you missed the forum or want to revisit the evening, you’ll find detailed minutes below. Thanks again to all who made this such a successful event and we’ll continue to you keep you up to date on West Bank connectivity and all things transit in New Orleans!
West Bank Transit Forum Minutes
Welcome & Introductions Ride New Orleans AP & FN
Opening Remarks Councilmember Ramsey
NR: Welcome. Thanks to Alex and Justin for organizing. The city of New Orleans is poised to be a 21st century city while retaining our historic charm. Having adequate public transportation allows for ease of access to the resources offered by this city. Capacity has drastically reduced after Katrina. We are out of recovery mode and into expansion mode. One area we have not considered yet is the use of new concepts such as mini-buses. Transportation policy affects infrastructure and our environment. As a member of the city council transportation committee, I realize how these decisions will have an effect on the quality of our lives. The ferry terminal is very important to us. We hope to orchestrate a cohesive path from Quarter to the terminal. The city has also recently launched a bike share program. I’ve asked the city and the RTA to make sure that Algiers can participate in this program in a meaningful way. While ride-sharing legislation, I’ve noted the difficulty in getting ride-sharing vehicles to get to suburban areas like Algiers. I’ve also been involved in the efforts to get electric vehicles used in this city so we can see more quick-charging stations throughout the city (esp. at terminals). We have a lot of congestion in our historic areas though we have a lot of areas – especially on the west bank – that could benefit from tourism.
Panel Discussion (Moderated by Linetta Gilbert)
LG: We should be thinking about what we’d like to have and how we want to see our communities grow based on the expansion of transportation system.
CT: I am an Algiers resident and I take the service on average 6 days a week. One of the well things that work well is 114 and 115, esp. during rush hour. They are very timely. Going over the Crescent City bridge, there is an HOV lane that works wonderfully.
JA: Phenomenal population. 7 bus routes. Ferry services. 3700 boardings per day in 2016. We expanded service hours on 3 lines, including 24 hr services on Charles de Gaulle
KGP: Ride contacted over 400 people in Algiers. The biggest challenge to Algiers is inter-transit opportunities. We are so large and separate. We have suburban and urban issues. We really need to be smart about how we connect ourselves. The bike path that goes on top of the levee is a positive. We had really bad safety along General Myer, so to create alternative transit for cyclists and pedestrians is a win. We need to expand this path. We have to consider families and kids when we discuss Algiers. It would be really great if we had a comprehensive bike and pedestrian plan in Algiers, esp. one which focus on transit. Focus on interconnectivity with downtown. The campaign for covered bus stops has slowed, but we still need to consider them, esp. in relation to ADA accommodations and schools.
JA: Our priority in 2017 is to create neighborhood circles that would create an express bus across the river, BRT on De Gaulle, and ferry connectivity. Those things are on our agenda. I can’t tell you whether we will be success re: funding, but I’ve been talking about this w the RTA for 6 months. We want to create better neighborhood circulation and optimize ferry service. Park and ride facilities have been an eye sore since Katrina but we have been fighting FEMA – and we’re going to get that up and running so that JET buses and RTA buses can connect.
CT: Downtown to the CBD en route to work. 114, 115, & 106 take you downtown. There is no bus that takes you down to the Convention Center.
KGP: To work and schools and the Convention Center.
AM: That don’t work for everyone.
KGP: The new streetcar takes you right next to the biomedical centers. Algiers is one of the closest areas to downtown that still has affordable housing.
Tell us what you would like to see in these new investments and what you would like to see in ferry service overall.
CT: There’s lots of stairs to get to the ferry. These are challenges for people with disabilities. This has to be addressed.
JA: Access to jobs is critical. We need to improve the ferry terminal on this side of the river and the other side of the river.
KPG: Just to be clear, however, there’s no funding to improve these facilities.
JA: I didn’t say I had the money. We’re going to have a developer’s day sometime in April. It’s to conceptualize how developers would invest in transit on the west bank if they could. We invested $61 million on the Loyola streetcar and saw a $2.7 billion return. The west bank has the same potential – we just need to understand your thinking and your priorities, needs, desires. We don’t have all the answers. We have to outreach and listen and learn from the communities.
MR: I’m a senior planning that’s a consultant to the RTA on the Strategic Mobility Plan. It’s a yearlong process that just began in January that will continue throughout this year with an aim to complete the plan by December. Mobility describes how we move around in general and the RTA is embarking on this plan as a result of all of these changes to our city and the ways in which we move around. We’re in the listening and learning phase. We begin with you. What are your needs? Aspirations? What you’d like to access and where you’d like to go? We want to make sure that we hear from you in this first phase before we come back to you with any ideas.
LG: The RTA’s board members are paying attention. Raise your hand if you have a question. Remember: be clear, concise, and respectful.
Audience Question, Answer, & Comments
AM: Michelle Multz. I live in Algiers Point. The bus I take is the 101. I work at the WWII museum. In the evenings, the scheduled time between buses is an hour and ten minutes. I waited over 35 minutes for a bus. I signed up for delay notifications through the RTA website but I have not received any notifications. I need to know when my bus will be there so I can make arrangements to get home.
KPG: Let’s be clear: we cannot build economic development on the west bank if we do not have connectivity.
LG: Let’s hear from some other issue.
AM: My name is (Inaudible). There is no shelter. If it’s been raining, they put you out on the grass. Young mothers with strollers have to stand in the grass.
LG: Show of hands about how many people are concerned about the shelters? (about half the audience raise hands)
JA: We do not have enough shelters out here. We have not been able to put any shelters out due to the city’s comprehensive zoning ordinance. We are going to address it on the 22nd of this month with the city council committee. 1. Strategic Mobility Plan 2. Shelter Issue. We have been fighting this for 2 years.
LG: Maybe we should research the zoning ordinance.
MA: Any constituent interested in this is advised to show up to the Transportation City Council meeting at City Chambers at 10:30 AM on Feb 22nd.
AM: Dedra Simpson. Why do we have to sign up to receive notifications? We used to be able to track the buses. I’d like that back.
JA: Today the RTA has approved the purchase of a new system. You will soon be able to check the GPS of your bus, but we are working a contract it now. We probably won’t see the real impact of it until the first quarter of 2018.
AM: Julius Lee. I am a president of a neighborhood council. Last meeting, on the east bank side (coming from the west bank), there used to be a crossing over the railroad tracks so that if somebody is accessing the ferry they could get around an oncoming train.
JA: The new ferry terminal meeting is Feb 20. I would suggest you attend that meeting and express your concerns.
AM: Keane Calloway. For the past 6 weeks, I have been riding the JET and the RTA. My actual workplace is on Rampart. The connectivity b/t buses is so delayed that I can walk from Loyola/Tulane to Rampart and see two buses behind each other. It’s awkward that I can walk 25, 30 minutes before a bus can pick me up. I’d be late for work if I wait for the bus. Is there a way to pinpoint the timing?
JA: The no 1 issue we have is that we don’t have a truly regional system. My company manages both JET and RTA but we don’t collaborate. Isn’t that crazy? (enthused agreement from audience). I can’t force anything to the parish. You, the public, has to voice your concerns so that we can have everybody work together for the Strategic Mobility Plan. If we all worked together, we could create a regional system.
AM: Deborah. I work at the WWII Museum. Thanks for the 5:30 bus. I can now get an earlier shift, which pays more, so thank you for that. But I don’t want to walk 8 blocks from the Convention Center to the WWII Museum. We used to have a service before the storm that would take me there. It used to take me 15 minute to get to work. Now it’s taking me 2 hours.
JA: The Convention Center, the SWB, and us. You’ve these big corporations that used to only think about themselves. We had to move our stop to N Peters because we couldn’t keep a schedule, it was so congested by the Convention Center. There’s going to be a final report on how we’re going to fix transit around the Convention Center. Also, we’ve got streetcar expansion services for you to take from the UPT, go down Loyola toward Higgins. Let’s make it a pedestrian mall over by WWII so people can have increased mobility.
AM: My name is Linda Martinez. I live in Algiers. I do not work downtown but I would love to go shopping downtown, and I would love to have my park and ride, go downtown, do my shopping, and come back.
JA: It is on the table right now to fix the park and ride. We’re going to finalize that this year. It’s got more use and connection points that we could all benefit from. Just wait with me just a little bit longer. Now I’m fighting for expansion, for providing good stuff for the community.
AM: Ralph Bradshaw, Algiers Point. I had a question about the pedestrian bridge & covered access to the bridge from Canal St (to the ferry terminal). It was mentioned that at a meeting in January. Are you going to continue pursuing a demolition permit only 24 hours after public input re: pedestrian access?
JA: I went to the CPC to get a demolition permit for the bridge. It does not fit with the new plan that is being developed for Canal St. Did I answer your question?
AM: Not really, but we’ll discuss it on February 20.
AM: Greg Ravy, We mentor young adults in the Algiers Community. Do you work with organizations that rely on the bus? Is there anything we can do that makes it comfortable for organizations to use the bus?
JA: You and I need to talk about how to figure out how to make it comfortable for young riders on the RTA. You can talk me.
AM: Annette Watt, Algiers Point. Your strategic plan says you want to listen and learn. But will be an engaging process? We have been left out of this process for 2 years. It’s only been since January that we’ve been roped into the process, and some of the meetings we’ve only heard about by accident. All these people with these concerns – how are you going to engage us before these plans are really set?
JA: We’ve had conversations over the past 2 years. We’re intermixing two different things. Let’s talk about the Strategic Mobility Plan. That’s going to move us forward. Prior to us starting this, however, we begun the discussion of how to improve the ferry services. We’ve got 2 new boats and fought real hard to get rid of the old boats. We put together a long process to get money for these new boats. This discussion started when they shut down the tolls on the bridge. We had to negotiate with the state and improve the service. We had to consider: how are you going to replace the assets? Now that we’ve had those discussions for –
LG: When will people in the community get a chance to input before the design?
KPG: The first public meeting was January 18. Justin, please do not mislead the public. You’ve been having 2 years of meeting with non-ridership stakeholders. Can we have your promise that the pedestrian bridge will not be demolished until we have a viable design?
JA: I cannot say that. You have to separate these issues. People were voicing their opinions back in January. But that’s separate from a demolition permit.
LG: I think we have a disagreement about how and when community engagement should happen.
JA: The RTA has public board meetings every month.
KPG: We were only able to have a design January 18. We went to the RTA Board to request to be part of a public process.
AM: Ilona Prieto, Algiers Point. I take the ferry for fun. There’s no ferry reliability. Could you make sure the captain show up? It simply doesn’t work on a day to day basis. Can you make sure you include the ferry in the discussion around interconnectivity?
AM: Brenda Williams, Jefferson Parish. Is there anything in the new strategic plan that will capitalize on the river? Other communities use their waterways to work for them. Is there any discussion to make sure the ferries go along the river instead of just across?
JA: We bought our new boats with that consideration in mind. Re: Strategic Mobility Plan, we want to hear about what you want over the next 5, 10, 20 years. We’re trying to gather as much as data as possible. Let me apologize to you. Let me tell you about things that can shut us down: the captain doesn’t show; the coast guard can shut us down.
AM: I can understand your weather point.
JA: Whatever the reason may be for the ferry shutting down, I try to move buses out across the river. I don’t have a terminal on this side of the river. Schedules are designed to be as efficient as possible, but lots of things can get in the way.
LG: I have to stop you and say that I am extremely proud that Algerians showed up and voiced your concerns. When someone tells you there’s a Strategic Plan, they’re not giving you a solution, just wanting to hear your concerns.
AP: 1. We’ll be sending a follow-up e-mail with notes as well as meeting notes. 2. You’ve got me, Matt, and Stephanie for paid staff at Ride New Orleans. Our organization only works if everybody in this room stays in contact with us. 3. Have a little more food and have a good night!
Thousands of New Orleans’ West Bank residents rely on RTA bus lines and the ferry every day to get to where they need to go.
But how is transit service overall? What would riders and community members like to see improved? What’s already in the works and what’s possible in the next few years?
Join us for an in-depth community conversation around these and other West Bank transit topics on Wednesday, February 15th at 6 p.m. at the Algiers Regional Library, 3014 Holiday Drive.
In addition, members of the RTA’s strategic transit planning team will be on hand to take down your thoughts on the long-term needs of our transit system.
A buffet-style supper will be available.
Better transit won’t just happen.
We don’t have unlimited funds or unlimited time. So, it’s important to create a plan and prioritize how we want to improve transit and improve people’s ability to get to where they need to go in the New Orleans region without a car and regardless of income level.
Many other US cities have created community-supported long-range plans to bring specific improvements for riders. If other cities can do it, then New Orleans – with a much stronger tradition as a transit city – should be able to as well.
Fortunately, after a multi-year push from Ride New Orleans and other advocates to create such a plan, the RTA has determined to move forward.
Over the course of 2017, this important plan will be constructed. The RTA is referring to it as the “Strategic Mobility Plan,” and Ride New Orleans wants to ensure that transit riders and residents can shape the plan so it brings the best possible results.
What is the process?
January saw one of the first important benchmarks – public meetings to talk about rider visions for the system and begin to set expectations for what to expect.
An open house on January 17 brought out more than 80 people – many of them alerted to the meeting by Ride New Orleans – to move through a series of interactive stations. The stations gave participants a chance to share their big-picture vision and values for NOLA transit as well as choose from a variety of key focus points. “Improving the existing system” garnered the most votes on January 17.
Between now and the end of March, there will be a series of smaller meetings – often as agenda items on other organizations’ regular meetings – and “pop up” meetings outside busy transit transfer areas. Those will help to gather additional input on the overall direction the system needs to go.
Ride New Orleans has asked for more public notice for these public meetings. As we receive more info on dates and places we will share it. There will be an opportunity to weigh in with the RTA planning team at our February 15 West Bank transit forum, so RSVP today!
There is also an online survey available on the RTA’s site at http://www.norta.com/About/StrategicPlan
After the initial visioning stage, the process is expected to break down into four additional stages over the rest of the year. The time periods are estimates and could shift slightly as the year unfolds:
Research and analysis: March and April. The RTA planning team will take a deep dive into the numbers and analyze our service levels, current and anticipated needs and travel patterns, available and potential resources, and national trends. This will be mostly behind-the-scenes, but will set us up for the next stage.
The Big Picture: April through July. The public conversation will shift to big picture goals and strategies to accomplish those goals. The discussion will be sparked by the public feedback from the first round and the research and analysis from the previous stage. This will be a very important stage for riders to be involved in and we will do our best to make sure everyone who wants to participate is able to do so.
Options: August and September. After establishing an initial consensus on goals, the process will focus on forging consensus on the choices we need to make to actually accomplish those goals. Ride New Orleans think this will be the most important stage. How we choose to spend our finite resources is one of the most crucial and needed parts of this process and riders must have a loud and clear voice in deciding.
Final version and beyond: The rest of 2017 and into 2018. A draft version of the strategic transit plan will be created from the input of the previous stages. Residents will be able to comment on specifics and then there will hopefully be a community-supported revised version which the RTA board will approve by the end of the year. But the work won’t stop then – Ride New Orleans and transit riders will keep pushing to make sure that there is a clear implementation plan, accountability with defined checkpoints, that immediate steps are taken, and that the new mayoral administration is fully vested in the plan.
What do we need?
Ride New Orleans thinks that the most important priority for our transit is that it allows New Orleans residents get to where they need to go quickly and affordably.
Right now, your average New Orleanian with a car can reach 89 percent of the region’s jobs in 30 minutes or less. But if the same New Orleanian is reliant on transit she can only reach 11 percent of those jobs in the same 30-minute period. That’s unacceptable and the strategic transit plan must prioritize how we get New Orleans residents quickly to work, school, and other important places via public transit.
There are many ways to do that but we think the following are a good way to start:
Also critical is a public process that is inclusive and sees the community and transit riders as full partners in choosing a path forward, and the checkpoints that will help us determine how we’re doing in getting there.
How do I get involved?
Ride New Orleans is focused on keeping riders informed and engaged as this process unfolds in 2017. Sign up for our email updates and follow us on Facebook and Twitter in order to get information as quickly as we have it.
In addition, you can regularly check the RTA’s Strategic Mobility Plan homepage at http://www.norta.com/About/StrategicPlan. Thus far, they haven’t put as much information on the page or updated as regularly as we would like, but we hope to see more regular updates in the near-future.
The RTA is drafting its long term plan – the “Strategic Mobility Plan” – throughout 2017. This process will establish the type of transit service New Orleans needs over the next two decades.
The first big opportunity for the public to get involved is Tuesday, January 17, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. (New Orleans) and Wednesday, January 18 (Kenner)
Riders must be heard for this process to work.
Will you raise your voice?
To RSVP and for more information go to http://rideneworleans.nationbuilder.com/rta_transit_planning.
As we celebrate the opening of the St. Claude/Rampart streetcar, we also need to remember that we have much to do if we want to ever see the world class transit system New Orleans residents deserve.
While the average New Orleanian with a car can reach 89 percent of the region’s jobs in 30 minutes or less, if she relies on transit she can only reach 11 percent of the region’s jobs in that same time period. More transit investments and service improvements are a must if we want to provide more access to opportunity for our neighbors who rely on transit and more improvements are a must if we want more people to choose to take transit. This is especially true for our bus network which carries the majority of riders.
This summer we spoke with current transit riders all along the St. Claude/Rampart corridor to better understand how they use the current system and what sort of improvements they’d like to see. We gathered a handful of our favorite responses–click here.
We’ve had a busy few months here at Ride New Orleans. As summer heat heads into its final stretch and we can (almost) imagine the cooler weather to come, we want to get you up to speed on our highlights!
We released our third annual State of Transit in New Orleans report in late August. The big takeaway? We’ve made real improvements in the last two years, but we still have a long way to go – especially in providing access to opportunity for our neighbors who need it the most. The average New Orleanian with a car can reach 89 percent of our region’s jobs in 30 minutes or less. But relying on transit, that same person can only reach 11 percent of those jobs in 30 minutes or less. Read the full report here.
To address this car/transit access disparity, we’re challenging the city of New Orleans and the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) to commit to increasing service by 33 percent by the end of 2020. This can happen if the RTA aims to reach one million ‘vehicle revenue hours,’ or VRH – the amount of time that a bus, streetcar, or other transit vehicle is actively serving paying passengers. We’ve been on pace to reach that mark the last few years – but we have to keep seeing service enhancements annually! Learn more and sign our petition for one million VRH by 2020!
To cap off our State of Transit report release, we hosted a panel discussion on using transit to improve New Orleanians’ ability to get to jobs and other opportunities. Joining the panel were RTA GM Justin Augustine, RTA Board Chairwoman Sharonda Williams, HousingNOLA Executive Director Andreanecia Morris, and GNO, Inc. President and CEO Michael Hecht. Key discussion points included the need for greater regional transit connections, more housing that people can afford near convenient transit routes, and a look at projected regional job growth in the coming decades. Ride New Orleans board member and Speaker Pro Tempore for the Louisiana House of Representatives Walt Leger, III moderated. Check out pictures from the event on our Facebook page.
Throughout the summer we continued building our transit rider-led organizing campaign, the Coalition for Quality Transit. Coalition members helped with our St. Claude transit outreach efforts, discussed how to provide improved transit access to individuals with physical disabilities, and started planning activities for the rest of the year. If you haven’t already, please sign the Coalition for Quality transit pledge to show your support for better New Orleans transit. We meet every third Saturday from 10 am to 1130 am – email us if you’d like to become more involved!
Earlier this year, St. Claude/Rampart bus riders were worried about a repeat of the Loyola streetcar situation when the new streetcar line opens. When the Loyola line started service, two buses that used to go to Canal – the #15 Freret and #28 Martin Luther King – were instead halted at the streetcar’s first stop – the UPT. This was a real time and money inconvenience that we didn’t want to also see happen to #88 St. Claude riders. To highlight the issue, we (and many of you) participated in the RTA public hearing process, gathered several hundred petition signatures, and attracted media attention. The end result – the #88 St. Claude will continue to Canal AND the #15 and #28 lines will be extended back to Canal in early October!
The RTA’s long-term strategic transit planning process will start soon, with an announcement of the consulting team to lead the process expected this fall. This will be a major opportunity for the community to shape the coming decades of New Orleans transit and improve frequency and connectivity in the next few years. We’ll have a lot more to say as things get rolling – please stay tuned and email us if you want to get more involved in this important process.
Ride New Orleans released the third annual State of Transit in New Orleans report on August 29, 2016. The report hails important progress in the last year, but warns that our transit service still has many challenges to overcome.
Foremost among those challenges is providing reliable transportation options for residents who need to rely on transit some or all of the time to get to work, school, or other important destinations.
The report compares access to jobs for residents with cars with residents who are reliant on transit. Data analysis shows that while the average New Orleanian with a car can access 89 percent of the available jobs in Orleans, Jefferson, and St. Bernard parishes in 30 minutes or less, a resident reliant on transit can access only 11 percent of those jobs in the same time period.
“With a 28 percent poverty rate in New Orleans it’s critical that we provide more opportunities for jobs and education,” said Ride New Orleans Executive Director Alex Posorske. “But with tens of thousands of residents with no access to a car, improving transit must be a priority if we are serious about increasing access for our neighbors who need help the most.”
To address this, Ride New Orleans asks the RTA and City of New Orleans to commit to achieving one million total vehicle revenue hours (VRH) of service by the end of 2020.
VRH – or the hours that a transit vehicle is actively serving paying customers – is a commonly used metric in transit planning. Achieving one million VRH by 2020 is very possible. It requires approximately an eight percent annual increase in service hours over each of the next four years – matching the service increases of the last few years.
“We are on the right path to provide the transit service New Orleans residents deserve, but we need to commit to making this a regional priority right now,” Posorske said.
He said that the RTA’s upcoming strategic planning process would be an ideal time to determine where to best allocate the increased service hours and empower a committee to look at a combination of new sources of revenue and cost-savings measures to finance it.
While stressing the necessity of continued improvement, the report also praises recent progress. In April 2016, the RTA added about 11 percent additional VRH, including overnight service on eight lines, raising the total lines providing 24-hour service to nine. Early morning service was added to 15 lines. Additional weekend service was added, increasing the total amount of weekend service by 28 percent. These are critical improvements for a city like New Orleans with many jobs that have nontraditional hours.
The full report can be found at: http://rideneworleans.org/the-state-of-transit-2016
A summary of key takeaways can be found at: http://rideneworleans.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/2016-State-of-Transit-Summary-.pdf
Ride New Orleans is an independent non-profit organization. Our vision is a world class, multi-modal transportation system that promotes a vibrant, healthy, and equitable New Orleans region. Our mission is to enhance the quality of life in the New Orleans region by promoting safe, convenient, and affordable transportation options.
We’re about to release our third annual State of Transit in New Orleans report. If you haven’t already, please RSVP for the 8/30 breakfast briefing.
We want to give a big thank you to the sponsors of this year’s report, whose generous support helped give us the resources to draft this year’s report!
Ride New Orleans comments delivered at the July 19th RTA Public Hearing
Overall, Ride New Orleans is pleased with the proposed service changes and we want to offer kudos to the RTA. These proposals are rooted in sound transit planning principles, increasing frequency and making for faster travel times.
We commend the decisions to keep the #88 St. Claude/Jackson Barracks going to Canal Street. The #88 St. Claude is the third busiest bus line in the system and keeping the line going to our primary transfer point means riders won’t take a step backwards in terms of their access to jobs, education, and other opportunities.
This is also true for the #91 Jackson/Esplanade and #57 Franklin buses who, for the majority of riders, will be going to Canal or beyond. We know that there will be smaller percentage of people working in the Quarter who will affected. However, as long as we’re providing more transit choices, coordinating transfers, and increasing frequency, riders will have more access and opportunity to reach their destination quickly and safely.
We loudly applaud the proposal to restore direct Canal Street access for riders of the #15 Freret and #28 Martin Luther King. This is exciting news and will better connect several neighborhoods with the rest of the city and will help build back the ridership that was lost when those lines were rerouted to the UPT.
In the second option for streetcar service, we’re interested in the increased frequency gained by stopping the #55 Elysian Fields & the #5 Marigny/Bywater at the French Market (20 minutes and 40 minutes mins). We know that buses on Decatur in the French Quarter can sometimes get stuck behind bad traffic and get significantly behind schedule. Meanwhile, with increased service on St. Claude and the Riverfront line there are many more options available to riders to get to lower and upper Canal. These changes could provide riders along the line with a more reliable and quicker trip, even with the additional transfer. Again, when we see coordinated transfers, increased frequency, overall faster commutes, we want to lift that up and thank the RTA for making such thoughtful recommendations.
Community engagement is also very important to Ride New Orleans. Riders’ voices need to be a major part any service alterations. We appreciate the numerous public information sessions last week and want to thank the outreach team for describing these changes in such detail.
However, we would like to see more consensus building earlier in the construction timeline so that riders have the opportunity to be informed and provide their perspectives during the project rather than when the project is near completion. When riders have all the facts available to them earlier in the planning process it builds and maintains trust between them and the agency. This creates a stronger partnership better able to achieve our mutual goals – increasing transit availability and ridership.
Overall though, these proposed route changes are a big win for riders and will better connect tens of thousands of riders to economic opportunities in the city and region. We congratulate your planning team, the Transdev staff, and the RTA Board on providing increased choice and increased frequency to the public – thank you for your efforts.
Join the hundreds of New Orleanians that support quality transit choices — click here to pledge your support and make a difference for better public transportation!
“As a New Orleanian, I know that our buses, streetcars and ferries provide a vital link for New Orleans’ families to reach school, work, doctors, parades, shopping destinations and more.
High quality transit for New Orleans will bolster our economy, promote better health and halt the dangers to our changing climate.
Ten years after Katrina, our transit service is still down by more than 50%, making it hard for New Orleans families to thrive.
Public officials who share our concerns will prioritize investments in quality transit for New Orleans.
Ride New Orleans and New Orleans transit riders and supporters will be at Junction Bar and Grill, 3021 St. Claude, Thursday, June 16 from 5 to 7 pm and we hope to see you there!
In addition to having a good time getting to know fellow transit advocates, we hope to hear your thoughts on how to keep New Orleans transit improving. We’re especially concerned with ensuring bus service along St. Claude and Rampart continues to improve when the new streetcar opens later this year and we’ll have an update on the issue.
Join the hundreds of New Orleanians that support quality transit choices — click here to pledge your support and make a difference for better public transportation!
“As a New Orleanian, I know that our buses, streetcars and ferries provide a vital link for New Orleans’ families to reach school, work, doctors, parades, shopping destinations and more.
High quality transit for New Orleans will bolster our economy, promote better health and halt the dangers to our changing climate.
Ten years after Katrina, our transit service is still down by more than 50%, making it hard for New Orleans families to thrive.
Public officials who share our concerns will prioritize investments in quality transit for New Orleans.
As you may have heard, the GiveNOLA donation page suffered from technical difficulties yesterday and many supporters were unable to make a donation. That was bad news for small organizations like Ride New Orleans that rely on individual contributions to support our bottom line.
Fortunately, we’ve just received word that GiveNOLA 2016 has been extended until 5 p.m. Friday. That means if you couldn’t make a donation yesterday, you can still help us win better bus, streetcar, and ferry service for the New Orleans region by pledging today!
Why are we taking pledges instead of directing supporters to our own donation page?
By officially giving through GiveNOLA Day, you are increasing the amount of partial matching dollars we might receive. That means your donation could have even more impact than it normally would.
After making a pledge, a representative from the Greater New Orleans Foundation – the sponsors of GiveNOLA Day – will contact you for payment information within the next week.
Please consider a pledge of $100, $50, $10, or whatever you can afford.
Thank you for all of your support!
The GiveNOLA challenge is underway until midnight tonight! During that time your donation to Ride New Orleans to support better bus, streetcar, and ferry service will go even further.
GiveNOLA Day is a 24 hour online giving event, sponsored by the Greater New Orleans Foundation. The idea is to help advocacy and education groups like Ride New Orleans raise all-important individual contributions by creating a buzz around donating during one 24-hour period.
Best of all, if you donate at any point before midnight tonight, you will put Ride New Orleans in the running for additional prizes and matching funds. That means your donation could have even more impact!
You can make a difference with a contribution of $250, $100, $50 or whatever you can afford.
We very much appreciate your consideration. Together, we can bring New Orleans residents much closer to the world class transit we all deserve.
And please stop by our office tonight between 5 and 7 p.m. to join us for a casual thank you celebration for all of our great supporters throughout the area. Along with our “office roommates” Bike Easy, we’ll have complimentary drinks and snacks. Please stop by 2100 Oretha Castle Haley Bouelvard and say hello! We are on the #15 and #91 bus lines and four blocks from the St. Charles streetcar.
Tuesday, May 3 is GiveNOLA Day!
After you’ve given your donation of at least $10 to Ride New Orleans via our GiveNola Day page, please join us for a thank you celebration from 5 to 7 p.m at our office at 2100 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard.
Along with our “office roommates” Bike Easy, we’ll be opening up our doors to transit supporters and Ride New Orleans volunteers and donors to say thanks with complimentary drinks and snacks.
If you think you can make it, please RSVP on our event sign up page.
Our office is conveniently located on the #15 Freret and #91 Jackson-Esplanade lines and is four blocks from the St. Charles streetcar line.
What: GiveNOLA Day Happy Hour
When: Tuesday, May 3 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Where: Ride New Orleans offices at 2100 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard
We need your help for better bus and streetcar service!
May 3 is GiveNOLA Day and we have set a goal to raise $5,000 to support our 2016 work for quality NOLA transit.
Will you pledge right now to give $250, $100, $40, or whatever you can afford on May 3?
What is GiveNOLA Day?
GiveNOLA Day is a 24 hour online giving event, sponsored by the Greater New Orleans Foundation. The idea is to help advocacy and education groups like Ride New Orleans raise all-important individual contributions by creating a buzz around donating during one 24-hour period. It’s been a big boost in the past and we’re excited about to participate again this year!
Best of all, if you donate at any point on GiveNOLA Day – between 12:00 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. on May 3 – you will put Ride New Orleans in the running for additional prizes and matches from the Greater New Orleans Foundation. That means your donation could have even more impact!
We’ve got a whole lot planned for 2016 and, as the new Executive Director, I can’t wait to work with many of you as we jointly organize for faster, more reliable, more convenient, and more comfortable transit service.
But we can’t do that without your help. So, if you are able, please consider making a donation on Tuesday, May 3 – GiveNOLA Day!
Thanks for everything that you do,
Ride New Orleans
PS: Whether you are able to donate on GiveNOLA Day or not, we hope you can attend our GiveNOLA Day open house starting at 5 p.m at our offices at 2100 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard. We’ll have drinks, food, and I would love the chance to meet you! Please email me back if you think you can make it.
This week we welcome Alex Posorske as our new Executive Director. As our new Executive Director, Alex will be responsible for the overall strategic direction of our organization, our fundraising, and overseeing our campaigns for more quality transit for New Orleans.
We’re very excited to have Alex on board! You can check out his bio on our About page, but we also wanted to give you a sense of who he is. So we asked him a few questions about his background and have posted the answers below.
I’ve worked the last five years as Managing Director at the Coalition for Smarter Growth in the Washington DC region. The Coalition for Smarter Growth does a lot of the same things that RIDE New Orleans does, but for the DC area. Advocacy and education around improved transit was a big part of our mission. During my time there, we focused on implementing a dedicated bus lane on one of the region’s busiest bus corridors, planning a suburban Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) network, and bringing officials and residents together to improve the Metro system, which has fallen on some hard times recently, due to deferred maintenance, among other problems.
We also worked on equitable development – helping to make sure that DC’s phenomenal construction boom would leave the city with more homes that would be affordable for families in the long run.
I played a role in the strategy around all of those campaigns. My role also centered around staff management, fundraising, and working with our Champions Council (akin to a Board of Directors) to help grow the organization.
Growing up in the DC region, I went to a public high school that was 45 minutes by transit and 60 minutes plus by school bus. So, of course, I took transit almost every day. Most days I’d take the same bus, about five miles to my home. Every once in a while, I’d splurge and take the Metro several stops, before transferring onto a bus for the final leg of the trip.
Taking transit was not only more convenient – it was my first taste of freedom and being completely responsible for my personal mobility outside of my neighborhood – instead of having to rely on an adult. That was a great feeling and has stuck with my ever since.
I started working on political campaigns soon after college. But after a while, there’s only so much change you can affect from the world of electoral politics so I began gravitating toward advocacy. Working first at the Coalition for Smarter Growth and now RIDE has helped me to merge that passion for change with that love for transit.
Two main things come to mind.
First, as I noted above, quality transit means freedom – no matter who you are. Quality transit means you can get where you need to do, when you need to go there, without the cost and burden of a car. That’s a really amazing concept and worth fighting for.
Second, transit should be one of our great equalizers. Many people can’t afford other means of transportation but transit is there to make sure they can get to work, to the doctor’s office, to pick up their kids, and any other number of every day things you just have to do. Transit is what is there to make sure that you can take advantage of opportunities to create a better situation for you or your family and take care of basic needs in the meantime.
Working with everyone connected with RIDE. The people at RIDE – staff, board, and volunteers – are among the friendliest and most dedicated people I’ve had a chance to work with in a long time. That makes me really excited about continuing our work to build support for more quality transit and to help make an amazing, unique city like New Orleans even more walkable and accessible.
Filling the shoes of (outgoing ED) Rachel Heiligman is a daunting task! Rachel’s done amazing work here and deserves the highest praise for what she’s been able to accomplish.
Fortunately, Rachel will still be around. She’ll be consulting with us for the next several months to help with the transition. And she’s promised us that she’ll stay involved with RIDE and the push for more quality transit in NOLA!
Right now it’s the 91! My fiancée (who will be teaching HS English this fall) and I are renting a place in the 7th Ward. I can walk a few blocks to Esplanade and take the 91 right to the RIDE office in Central City. That accessibility is a great example of what transit should be able to be for everyone!
On Tuesday, April 19th RIDE New Orleans and the Coalition for Quality Transit will unveil the Community Vision for Quality Transit with a celebration featuring snowballs, sweets, music, and more.
I hope you can join us from 11AM – 1PM on Tuesday in the neutral ground at Elk Place & Cleveland Avenue to kick off the campaign – and to welcome our new Executive Director, Alex Posorske.
When: Tuesday, April 19th from 11AM – 1PM
Where: The neutral ground at Elk Place & Cleveland Avenue
What: Celebration and release of the Community Vision for Quality Transit
The Coalition for Quality Transit is a broad-based group from every corner of New Orleans, all working to give New Orleans residents the world-class transit we deserve. The Coalition includes transit riders, supporters, businesses, affordable housing advocates, public health leaders, environmental stewards, and community leaders. We are working together to strengthen New Orleans transit, to reduce congestion and pollution, improve mobility, bolster economic growth, and increase access to opportunity for all New Orleanians.
The Coalition for Quality Transit is fueled by RIDE New Orleans, but the ideas – summarized in the report to be released next Tuesday – are driven by its members.
Working in partnership with the community, as well as city and transit officials, we’ll be showing the broad support for more frequent, reliable service, better amenities, safer conditions, and many other important aspects of world-class transit.
Every additional resident who attends next Tuesday helps us better show this broad support.
In addition, you’ll get to meet our new Executive Director, Alex Posorke. I’ll be telling you more about Alex later this week, but please make some time on your calendar to come out and see him next Tuesday.
Thanks for all of your support,
President, Board of Directors
RIDE New Orleans
2015 was a big year for transit advocacy! Here are just a few highlights.
In January, more than 100 transit riders and community leaders turned out for Voices for Transportation Choices. Together with many dedicated transit riders and supporters, we created the Coalition for Quality Transit and have been quietly planning a big public launch event for early 2016. Stay tuned!
In June, our big push to empower riders in planning and decision-making paid off. Twenty-two transit riders were appointed to the first ever Riders’ Advisory Committee to the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority that has been meeting monthly ever since.
In August, we released our second annual State of Transit report and hosted a breakfast briefing with elected officials and community and business leaders. Shortly after, the RTA announced that they would commence a stakeholder-led strategic transit plan process – a direct result of our call for action.
In November, our Executive Director participated in a White House round table on transportation and economic opportunity, participating with national leaders on federal strategies to support economic mobility.
So let’s raise our glasses to an incredible 2015 and toast to an even brighter new year!
RIDE’s Year End Celebration
Thursday, December 17th from 6pm to 8pm
Upstairs at the Avenue Pub – 1732 St. Charles Ave
Dear Fellow Transit Advocates,
At the end of the year, our founding Executive Director will step down. Today we are beginning a search for a new, expanded position – President & CEO for RIDE New Orleans. I am reaching out to you for help in identifying candidates who are strong non-profit leaders with experience leading advocacy organizations.
As a Board, we could not be more thrilled with how our organization has grown under Rachel’s stewardship. We are determined to find a leader who will carry this legacy forward as we move into our next phase as an organization. Many of you on this mailing list have been with us since our very earliest days as Transport for NOLA. As we go through this transition at RIDE, know that we are determined to continue to provide the highest quality research on transit issues in the Greater New Orleans region while building our network of citizen activists.
Please do feel free to reach out to me and my fellow board members with any questions or suggestions. And most importantly – please distribute this job opportunity far and wide so that we can find the best candidate to take the lead for RIDE New Orleans.
Jackie Dadakis, Board President
Ten years after Katrina, New Orleans’ transit recovery remains uneven. Bus service remains down 65% while there are now more streetcars lines offering more trips than in 2005. While streetcars remain an historic and iconic part of our transit system, they are costly to install and inflexible in providing service. Federal monies and local bond sales have financed a massive streetcar expansion project which has not been well-integrated into the existing network of bus routes and has actually worsened commutes for some bus riders by forcing them to transfer to the new streetcar to complete their trip.
Things are moving quickly now! Just three weeks after 22 transit riding New Orleanians were appointed to the Regional Transit Authority’s Riders Advisory Committee, the kick-off meeting was held on July 21st.
About half of the newly minted committee members were in attendance and there was tremendous energy and excitement from the group to share their wisdom and vision for the future of New Orleans transportation.
Since 2013, we’ve worked side by side with a diverse coalition of transit riders and supporters to create opportunities for community transportation priorities to shape and guide decision-making at the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA). We’ve long believed that transit riders experiences, ideas and needs should be central to the way we invest in our public transportation system.
We’re proud to report that on June 23rd, the RTA Board of Commissioners appointed 22 transit riders and community leaders to sit on a new ‘Riders’ Advisory Committee‘, giving riders a permanent voice within and direct access to decision-makers on the Board.
This victory has been a long time coming! RIDE’s involvement in establishing this committee began back in February of 2013, when the Foundation for Louisiana, Greater New Orleans Foundation and JP Morgan Chase Community Giving hosted an Equity Caucus bringing community members and non-profit groups together to discuss issues of inequality in transportation and other aspects of New Orleans life.
Out of this Equity Caucus, RIDE came together with neighborhood leaders and community advocates and identified reforming the RTA’s public engagement process as a top priority. Members of the group brought forth their proposal for a standing riders’ advisory committee to the RTA Board Chair and Veolia Transportation (now TransDev), the private contractor who serves as the RTA’s staff. The RTA Board unanimously adopted this policy in January 2014 and began accepting applications shortly after. Though it took some time to finally get the committee appointed, the Board’s action this week kicks-off the implementation of this powerful public engagement reform. RIDE has contributed every step of the way by supporting community members in recognizing this as a need, assisting in the development of the policy, recruiting rider applications, and supporting riders to push for this innovative engagement policy to be implemented.
The full list of appointees include many community members that have worked with RIDE as that small working group has evolved into The Coalition for Quality Transit*. We’re overjoyed that the experiences, ideas and expertise of everyday transit riders will help guide the way to a more equitable transit system for New Orleans!
Thank you, thank you to the many riders, grassroots activists, community leaders who came together to advocate for the Riders Advisory Committee! And thank you to the RTA Board for believing in community knowledge and moving to make this committee a reality!
*If you’d like to join the Coalition for Quality Transit or just share your experiences and/or vision for public transportation contact Matthew Hendrickson, RIDE’s Advocacy Program Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 504-249-8419.
On June 18, we’re giving up our cars and riding public transportation as part of National Dump the Pump Day. Riding public transit is a great way to save money, to get out of traffic, to connect with your community, and to help the environment.
The American Public Transportation Association provides resources like the Fuel Savings and Carbon Footprint Calculators to demonstrate the positive impacts of using public transportation. You could save up to $10,000 by downsizing to one car! So let someone else take the wheel and just enjoy the ride! Read a book, chat with your neighbors, or just sit back and relax because you dumped the pump.
And if you’re new to riding transit RIDE can help! We’ve provided resources that can help plan your trip and make it easy for you to navigate your ride! Be sure to check back with us as we release more information from the RTA about events happening here in New Orleans.
RIDE New Orleans is excited to partner with ULI Louisiana for an afternoon transit pub crawl through the city of New Orleans! Saturday, June 13th we will meet at Union Passenger Terminal @ 1 PM to start the crawl. We will then catch the 15 Freret and make several stops before we return. Tickets are required and include a jazzy pass for the day and drinks discounts along the route.
Sharing their perspectives on the future of NOLA Transportation will be Cedric Grant, Executive Director of Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans & Rachel Heiligman, Executive Director RIDE New Orleans. I promise their knowledge of transit will be intoxicating!
So join us Saturday, June 13th for friends, fun, and of course a couple of cocktails for our 2015 Transit Pub Crawl! Check out the complete schedule below, tell your friends, and purchase your tickets today!
Pub Crawl Schedule:
1:00 PM Future of Transit
1:59 PM Depart – UPT Bus Bay 2 on 15 Freret
2:06 PM Arrive – OC Haley at ML King
Drinks at Purloo
3:06 PM Depart – OC Haley at ML King on 15 Freret
3:17 PM Arrive – Freret at Upperline
Drinks at Cure
4:00 PM Walk to The Other Bar
4:35 PM Depart Freret at Soniat
4:54 PM Arrive at Union Passenger Terminal
WHEN June 1st – 30th 2015
WHERE Throughout New Orleans
COST Free for first 5 registrants. After that, $30 for Eat Local Challenge enrollment.
For the month of June, Eat LocalNOLA, Bike Easy, and RIDE New Orleans are challenging you to eat local and avoid riding in cars. Challenge yourself to go 30 days only using alternative transportation – like walking, biking, and riding transit – and eating only foods grown, caught or raised within a 200-mile radius of New Orleans in order to drastically lower your carbon footprint. Participating in the Eat Local Footprint Challenge will raise your awareness of the health, economic, environmental and cultural benefits of eating locally sourced foods and using alternative transportation.
Successful Eat Local Footprint Challenge participants will be in the running to receive great prizes like a Hollygrove Produce Box, RTA Jazzy Pass courtesy of RIDE New Orleans, Bike Easy membership and swag, Green Project Platinum Membership, and more.
Here’s how it works:
Rules of the Eat Local Low Carbon Challenge:
You’ll report your successes/difficulties and reflect on eating locally and not driving through brief weekly updates submitted through email (you’ll receive an email with more details once you’re officially signed up).
You do not need to be a registered participant of the Eat Local Challenge to enter!
The most successful participant (most days without car, most pics on social media, best adherence to eating locally) will receive the prize! In the case of a tie, a winner will be drawn at random by Bike Easy.
Participants who wish to enter need to send an email to email@example.com with the subject line #EatLocalFootprintChallenge In the email, the participant must write the following paragraph followed by their full name:
“As I maneuver through the 30 days of eating locally I pledge to stay carbon free with my transportation needs and not to start my vehicle (unless in the case of an emergency). I pledge to carpool, walk, ride my bike and use public transit for all of my transportation requirements.” —- Name of Contestant
***In Addition, The first five contestants that send in the email pledge to firstname.lastname@example.org will receive full free registration to the 2015 Eat Local Challenge. A $30 value. Full list of perks are listed here! ***
RIDE has long advocated for providing more opportunities for the community to engage in the RTA’s planning and decision-making processes. For their April Board meeting – the RTA did just that! RIDE commends the RTA Board for moving their regularly scheduled meeting to 6pm in order to allow participation from riders and community members who work a nine-to-five and many others who wouldn’t otherwise be able to make it.
We want to give special recognition to the 30+ community members who attended, gave feedback and shared their ideas for improving transit service with the RTA Board members. You, the everyday riders of transit, spoke up for a number of important issues, including:
In fact, members of our grassroots action team reached out to their neighbors and turned out 25 people to the meeting, all wearing big red stickers proclaiming “I support the Riders Advisory Committee”. Though the RTA adopted a policy creating a Riders Advisory Committee and solicited applications from riders more than a year ago, the committee has not yet been appointed or convened. This important policy institutionalizes a process for users of transit ways to inform and connect with the RTA Board.
Despite many calls for the committee to be implemented, the RTA Board remained silent on the issue at Tuesday’s meeting. However, RIDE wants to thank and acknowledge RTA Board Member Flozell Daniels, who has offered his support and leadership in championing implementation of the Riders Advisory Committee – most recently, he met with members of our grassroots action team and committed his support to seeing it through.
Join RIDE’s grassroots action coalition! We are a diverse group of residents, riders, and community leaders working to improve our transit network, connect people to opportunity, and enhance our quality of life. Right now, our focus on seeing the Riders Advisory Committee through to implementation, and together, we’ll identify future action campaigns to improve transit in the NOLA region. Sign up to join our action coalition today!
Friends of RIDE,
Mark your calendars! May 5th is GiveNOLA Day – a day to celebrate and support New Orleans’ non-profit community. On GiveNOLA Day, your contribution to RIDE will be multiplied thanks to the generosity of the Greater New Orleans Foundation.
As you know, we are a small non-profit making major impacts to the quality of life in the New Orleans region by promoting safe, convenient and affordable transportation choices. We’ve second lined on the ferry, placed hundreds of chairs out for transit riders to take a seat and raised much needed awareness about New Orleans’ lagging transit recovery to a national platform. And we’re not stopping there! As the RTA is considering restructuring the city’s transportation network, we are organizing a broad community coalition to ensure that community priorities and your voice guide this process in addition to conducting much needed research to highlight areas of need.
These efforts are made possible because of the generosity of people like you and we ask for you to make a contribution to RIDE on Tuesday, May 5th.
But there’s more you can do! Because you are a champion for transit, we invite you to take our “10 x 10 Challenge”. Step up and get on board by recruiting 10 people to donate $10 or more to RIDE New Orleans on May 5th. We’ll shower you with appreciation by shouting your name from the rooftops (aka our social media and newsletter)! Click here to sign-up to take our 10 x 10 Challenge today.
So hop aboard, invite your friends and give to RIDE on May 5th!
Many thanks for all of your support,
On April 15, 2014, Ride New Orleans and partners hosted a day of grassroots action and released our report “Smart Transit for a Strong Economy: Why New Orleans Should Invest in its CBD Transit Hub“.
Our goal was to call attention to the need for investment to support transit riders at the heart of our regional transit system. The CBD Transit Hub is where 20 transit lines converge that exists as a series of decentralized bus stops. There is no wayfinding signage to guide riders to their connecting bus or streetcar making navigation difficult. There are no dedicated kiosks or vending machines to purchase a fare card before boarding a bus or streetcar. There are no system maps or schedules posted, leaving riders with no on-site options to learn about the transit system or plan their trip. And as of April 2014, there were very few seats for the 5,000+ riders that catch their bus there on a daily basis.
We called for short-term investments to improve seating, shade and wayfinding and long-term investment so that our transit hub can be re-imagined as a gateway into the surrounding community through which many citizens and visitors pass.
At our action, City Council leaders committed their support and officials with TransDev, the company that manages the RTA’s operations, committed to immediate investment in seating. Shortly after the day of action, the RTA Board of Commissioners appropriated funding to lead a planning study for locating a permanent, centralized downtown transit center.
We’re excited to report that the RTA has made progress on both fronts, though continued work is needed.
New benches have been installed along Elk Place and S. Rampart giving waiting transit riders a much needed seat. In addition, the sidewalk was expanded on S. Rampart St. in front of a busy bus stop. We commend the RTA for making these improvements and encourage them to continue upgrading the bus stops that comprise the CBD Transit Hub to include system maps, wayfinding signage, and covered areas for waiting passengers.
Earlier this year, the RTA issued a contract to Parsons Brinckerhoff, a transportation consulting firm, to analyze potential transit center locations and recommend a downtown location for a transit center serving downtown New Orleans bus routes and streetcar lines. Through the study, the RTA will plan for a downtown transit center that will enable safe, comfortable and convenient connections between buses, in addition to identifying opportunities for joint development and community revitalization.
The study will kick off in the coming months and we’ll be sure to keep you up to date on opportunities to get involved.
UPDATE 9/14/15: The study is underway! Click here to visit the RTA’s website for more information.
The RTA is rolling out their new “GoMobile” app—a new tech tool to purchase fares and ride transit – all on your smartphone. If you’re a regular RTA rider with a smart phone, join the RTA’s team of riders who will get to beta test the app before launching it launches to all riders.
To learn more about mobile ticketing, check out this article by The Atlantic’s City Lab on the future of transit fare technology.
For the past several years, the RTA has been planning to extend the Canal streetcar line across City Park Avenue to meet the existing RTA and JET bus terminal on Canal Blvd. This transit terminal would make for easier and faster transfers between the streetcar and buses and eliminate the need for riders to navigate a challenging and incredibly dangerous street intersection.
On Monday, March 9, 2015, 6 p.m. in the Jesuit High School Auditorium located at 4133 Banks Street, New Orleans, LA, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) will host a public meeting to discuss an Environmental Assessment (EA) for the project. The EA, prepared by FTA and RTA, evaluates the potential impacts to environmental and human resources and investigates means of mitigation for unavoidable adverse impacts as a result of the proposed project. The EA may be viewed on and downloaded from the RTA website at www.norta.com.
Check out the plans below and come out Monday to support this regional transit hub!
On January 24th, 2015, Ride New Orleans hosted ‘Voices for Transportation Choices’, an unprecedented community convening, that brought together a diverse group of public transportation riders, community leaders, business owners, and public officials to talk openly and honestly about community transportation priorities.
Ride New Orleans announced the launch of our Action Committee, and to date, more than 50 community members have joined. It’s not too late to sign up to join our kick-off meeting!
Our Action Committee is comprised of transit riders and community partners working together on grassroots advocacy campaigns in order to improve transportation services. We are in the early stages of forming this working group and you are invited to participate as much, or as little, as you would like and in any capacity that you are comfortable with. Needless to say, you will be instrumental in shaping the actions that will affect the future of public transportation in New Orleans.
Our first Action Committee meeting will take place on Saturday, March 21st from 10 AM to noon at Sojourner Truth Neighborhood Center, 2200 Lafitte Avenue
To sign up for the Action Committee, email email@example.com or call 504-249-8419.
Advanced Registration Required
Join transit riders, community and business leaders and public officials for Voices for Transportation Choices, a citywide community conversation on transportation priorities hosted by Ride New Orleans and community partners. Featuring community conversations on quality transit standards, an opportunity to learn about upcoming plans and priorities for our buses, streetcars and ferries, and inspiring stories of how communities can work together to improve transportation service. Click here to see the full agenda.
We’re growing! Join the Ride team as a part-time Research Fellow. We’re looking for candidates who are comfortable diving into the numbers, wading through studies and plans and finding the forest through the trees. If you are an Excel junkie, this is the job for you!
To apply, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your resume, and a one page letter of interest explaining 1) why you are interested in the position, 2) why you are uniquely qualified for the role, and 3) how your skills, experiences and education have prepared you for this role. You may also be asked to submit a writing sample. Applications are due by December 19, 2014.
Have you ever wondered what our streets might look like if they were lined with parks instead of parking? So have we! That’s why Ride is teaming up with Bike Easy, RUBARB and Mnemonics AD for PARK(ing) Day NOLA 2014!
PARK(ing) Day is an annual worldwide event where artists, designers and citizens transform metered parking spots into temporary public parks. On Saturday, October 4th during Arts for Arts Sake, we’ll be joining talented designers to create parks along Julia Street in partnership with the Downtown Development District, Tulane City Center, and the New Orleans Arts District.
Our project – the Swing + Saddle Stop – will welcome walkers, bikers and transit riders to take a playful breather pre-, post- or mid-commute. We’ll also create a ‘peep show’ – a chance for visitors to view the future of New Orleans streets!
Our design is ambitious and we need your help to pull it off. We are planning an all-volunteer build to take place this weekend. Don’t have construction skills? We could still use your help leading a youth-oriented art project and hanging out / staffing our park the day of the big event. We’d love to have you join our PARK(ing) Day NOLA Team!
Ride New Orleans is a proud partner of Greenbuild, the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building. Greenbuild brings together industry leaders, experts and frontline professionals dedicated to sustainable building in their everyday work, and a unique energy is sparked. The 2014 event will take place Oct. 22-24 in New Orleans. Register today at www.greenbuildexpo.com.
Ride New Orleans fans can visit the USGBC membership link below and select “Regular Member.” Before entering your payment information, you can use the following discount code to get a yearlong USGBC Louisiana Membership for $55.
Discount code: GBLPDISCOUNT
This special opportunity ends on October 18, the week before Greenbuild officially arrives here in New Orleans! However, your membership benefits will last all year.
In November of 2012, volunteers with Ride New Orleans canvassed more than 200 passengers waiting for the bus at several street corners in the Central Business District where more than 20 regional transit lines converge. Centered around the intersection of Elk Place and Tulane Avenue and reaching out to intersections as far as 1/3 of a mile away, these transit stops function as a downtown transit hub. Every day, between 5,000 and 7,000 transit riders on- and off-board there making this transit hub an important center of economic activity. To the rest of New Orleans, the area has none of the features one would expect of a modern transit hub.
Regional residents using this transit hub are nurses, patients, waiters, revelers, construction workers, students, tourists, professionals, and senior citizens. The residents and visitors transferring at this point have such limited seating options – 30 seats altogether – that sidewalks quickly become overcrowded. With limited basic infrastructure serving thousands of people, the area is chaotic. Potential shoppers and commercial tenants avoid the area, in turn creating a challenging environment for businesses and property owners to operate. Vacancy and blight are common along the commercial corridors that line the busy transit stops.
Recognizing the critical nature of this problem, Ride New Orleans, in partnership with Tulane City Center, began investigating how a consolidated CBD Transit Hub could become a valued community asset that bolsters New Orleans’ cultural identity while creating new, smart development opportunities.
Today, we are excited to release our report, “Smart Transit for a Strong Economy: Why New Orleans Should Invest in a CBD Transit Hub“. The report highlights the current situation at the downtown transit hub, features solutions from other cities that have taken advantage of federal funding opportunities and public-private partnerships to invest in their downtown transit hubs and supports our position that we must re-imagine our central transit hub as more than just a utilitarian place for buses and passengers, but as a gateway into the surrounding community through which many citizens and visitors pass. As such, it deserves to leave a powerful impression as a matter of civic pride.
To coincide with the report’s release, we’ve organized a day of grassroots action, taking place from 3:00 – 6:00 PM today, Tuesday, April 15th on Elk Place between Canal Street and Tulane Avenue. We will place 200 chairs out at the various bus stops giving transit riders a comfortable place to wait. Ride New Orleans will be joined by public officials to sit with riders, and begin a solution-oriented community dialogue. We hope that you’ll join us in calling for smart transit infrastructure at the heart of our regional transit system.
The Gambit – April 16, 2014
NOLA Defender – April 16, 2014
WWLTV – April 15, 2014
The Times-Picayune – April 15, 2014
The New Orleans Advocate – April 16, 2014
Fox 8 Live – April 15, 2014
WDSU – April 15, 2014
New Orleans City Business – April 15, 2014
The Gambit – April 14, 2014
…passionate about transit?
…committed to working towards a more just and equitable future for New Orleans?
…a natural born leader with a strong vision?
…willing to roll up your sleeves and get in the advocacy trenches?
As a board member, you will play a pivotal role in:
To apply, please submit a letter-of-interest and CV or resume to email@example.com by April 15, 2014.
For the past year, Ride has worked closely with a group of dedicated riders, community leaders and bus drivers to research and develop a policy proposal for the RTA to create a standing riders advisory committee. Reforming the RTA’s public engagement process emerged as a top priority of community members at the February 2013 Equity Caucus hosted by the Foundation for Louisiana, the Greater New Orleans Foundation and JP Morgan Chase Community Giving.
After 10 working group meetings, and 2 in-depth discussions with RTA Board Chair Sal Longoria and Veolia staff members Judith Dangerfield and Stefan Marks, on Tuesday, the Regional Transit Authority’s Board of Commissioners will formally consider the adoption of a standing Riders Advisory Committee at the agency.
What is a Rider’s Advisory Committee?
In transit agencies across the country, Riders advisory committees go by many names – stakeholders, working groups, public involvement groups, etc., but they are all composed of a representative group of stakeholders that meets regularly to discuss issues of common concern. For the Regional Transit Authority, a riders advisory committee could be involved in planning major service changes, establishing goals and priorities for future transit expansion and more.
Why does it matter?
When projects and plans are not reflective of community priorities, transit agencies may encounter public image issues and be viewed as unresponsive to the people they serve. Distrust builds when riders feel disenfranchised during major transit decisions that will affect their daily lives, and the riding community may then become apathetic, believing they are powerless in their ability to improve the situation.
With a Riders Advisory Committee in place, there is a clear venue for riders to voice their concerns, share their ideas, and provide proactive input on major plans and decisions. The committee forms the backbone of a transit agency’s public engagement program, offering many benefits to both the agency and transit riders.
Benefits of a Riders Advisory Committee:
Come out to the RTA Board meeting on
Tuesday to help us support this historic vote! Jan 28, 2014 @ 10:00AM – 2817 Canal Street – RTA Board Room, 2nd floor
That’s why we partnered with eight great community organizations to launch the Transportation for Livable Communities Coalition. Together, our coalition set the goal of helping you – the voters – to be informed of where the candidates stand on the transportation issues that make New Orleans a great place to live.
We asked all of the candidates for Mayor and City Council to respond to six questions that cut to the heart of how we get around our city without a car – topics included:
We’re excited to unveil the candidate’s responses on the Transportation for Livable Communities website.
On our site, you will learn where incumbent and aspiring politicians running for mayor and city council stand on the issues that impact biking, walking and riding transit riding in New Orleans.
Check out the guide, and become an informed transit voter!
Thanks to our partners Bike Easy, Friends of Lafitte Corridor, the Sierra Club, Kids Walk Coalition, the Lower 9th Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development, VAYLA New Orleans, Urban Conservancy, and the UNO Transportation Institute for helping us to provide this valuable resource to voters.
Don’t forget to vote in the primary on February 1st!
To learn where or how to vote, visit geauxvote.org
Have you ever found it hard to get home from work at the end of your shift because your bus stops running too early? Do you ever wish you could rely on the RTA to get you home from a night out on the town?
Now’s your chance to tell the RTA where to add late night service!
The RTA is developing a plan to increase their late night service and they need you to weigh in on where to prioritize their investment.
One perk – everyone who responds can enter a drawing for one of five 31-day Jazzy passes valued at $55. Free transit and better late night service? Now that’s what we’re talking about!
Planning your transit commute – whether you’re in Orleans or Jefferson Parish – is now just as easy as pulling up Google maps and entering where you’re traveling from and to. Check it out!
Ride has long urged and supported our regional transit providers to openly share their data with third parties – like Google. And now we’re reaping the benefits! JET bus riders formerly had no choice but to use complicated paper and PDF timetables and route maps to plan their trips. Now, no matter where you’re traveling in the region, trips on both JET and RTA buses and streetcars are easy to plan!
We commend Jefferson Transit for taking this important step forward. We also encourage JET to share their data with all interested software developers so the cool techies behind innovative apps like NOLA Transit, Transit Hub and Transit App can also get in on the JET and regional trip planning action.
Cheers to open transit data – happy planning and riding!
From time to time, Ride takes a dive into deep technical waters – but all for the good of our fine city’s pedestrians, cyclists and transit riders! The latest release of the City Planning Commission’s draft Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance is one of those times where it’s important for us to take the plunge.
Zoning is the way that the city regulates how properties can be developed. All private development projects – from the new Costco to the construction of a single-family home – can impact the way we move safely through our city without a car. From curb cuts and driveways cutting through our sidewalks to bicycle parking to leveraging major private investments to ensure we have good bus shelters – zoning creates the laws and incentive structure we need to help make our streets safe for all.
That’s why Ride has developed a very detailed and in-the-weeds set of comments to share with the City Planning Commission.
Send an email to the City Planning Commission before November 30th in support of zoning for pedestrians and transit. Click here for a sample email that’s ready to fire off once you add your signature.
Thanks for your support,
Ride was thrilled for Andy Kopplin – one of New Orleans’ top public officials – to participate in Transit Week 2013. On Thursday morning, we joined the Deputy Mayor and Chief Administrative Officer for an early morning journey aboard the Magazine Street bus and Loyola-UPT streetcar to City Hall.
While we waited for the bus, the Deputy Mayor checked out two of the new transit apps popular that have come online since the RTA opened their transit data – Transit Hub and NOLA Transit. Kopplin was impressed by how easy it was to see the GPS coordinates of the bus and to receive estimates on its arrival based on it’s real-time location.
As a regular transit rider, Kopplin understands the value of transit to the local and regional economy. Not only did he help launch the popular LA Swift bus to Baton Rouge as the former head of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, but Kopplin relied on the service while he was living in Baton Rouge. He recognizes that the State’s decision to terminate the LA Swift bus in July has had very real impacts for the many riders who relied on the bus to commute to jobs throughout the region and cited the restoration of a public transit link to Baton Rouge as one immediate opportunity for New Orleans to seize on.
Aboard the packed Magazine Street bus, we spotted several school children on their morning commute to the St. Alophonsus elementary school. Deputy Mayor Kopplin pointed out the transportation challenges that schools, parents and students face in the new decentralized and open enrollment school landscape that has emerged post-Katrina – just getting to school has become an expensive proposition. Always a solution-oriented thinker – Kopplin discussed the opportunity for schools to invest in RTA transit passes for students. The dedicated revenue to the RTA could help to expand bus and streetcar connections to the schools in a win-win scenario for everyone.
After an easy ride into the CBD, we transferred to the Loyola UPT streetcar for the quick trip to City Hall. As a former Washington DC resident, Kopplin explained that he rode the subway to commute to work on a daily basis and appreciated the chance to read the newspaper and relax on his commute. When asked if the New Orleans transit system could ever rival DC’s, Kopplin quickly and confidently replied that it can be “even better.” We’ll second that!
Carl Fernandes, the beloved Commander’s Palace Maitre d’ stepped onto the St. Charles streetcar on Wednesday for a Transit Week ride. We were curious to get his take on the streetcars importance to the popular restaurant.
“I always tell tourists, it is the ultimate New Orleans experience,” he said. Carl estimated that each night approximately 30% of his out of town customers arrive via the St Charles streetcar. “If they call me to make a reservation, they often ask ‘is it safe?’ and I always tell them ‘absolutely, and Commander’s is only two blocks away.’”
During the ride, Carl admired the beautifully restored interior of the car. It was a chilly morning in New Orleans, however, and since the historical nature of the St Charles line prevents the addition of climate control, Carl felt compelled to note that the cooler temperatures made the ride “a little uncomfortable.” He added that “…it is very attractive, though, and very clean.”
The group disembarked at the Washington Avenue stop and had coffee together only a few blocks from his iconic restaurant. Carl said he reminds his customers that not only is the St Charles streetcar a perfect way to get to Commander’s Palace, but, “after having a few 25 cent martinis, it’s a safe way to get you back, too!”
Transit Week continued Tuesday, 11/12 with New Orleans notable – District 91 State Representative and House Speaker Pro Tempore Walt Leger – trading in his car for a transit commute to work aboard the St. Charles streetcar.
Ride joined Representative Leger aboard the streetcar and learned about how he’s leading the fight to connect the New Orleans and Baton Rouge super region with transit. Leger pointed out that New Orleans and Baton Rouge represent Louisiana’s two major economies and explained “…we need higher quality transportation between the cities, and higher quality transportation at both ends. We want people to have more options besides cars.” Nearly half of Louisiana’s 4 million residents live in and between the two metropolitan areas and an strong transit link between them is vital for the state’s national and international competitiveness.
Fortunately for us, Leger is helping to bring this important project to life as a leader of the Intrastate Rail Compact – a new government body established to study, plan, finance, build and operate the new rail connection. The Rail Compact was created in 2010 as a response to the Jindal Administration’s refusal to accept billions of dollars in federal funding to support the rail project.
By the end of our ride, Representative Leger mused about the possibility of high speed rail in the future which could connect Houston with New Orleans and Atlanta. “If Baton Rouge and New Orleans are left out of such a project, then that would be a huge missed opportunity.”
The Representative hopped off the streetcar at Carondelet Street, just a short walk from the his office. Before he headed off, Leger shared that “historically, New Orleans has always been about moving goods” citing the city’s major port facilities. “We have been great about the logistics. What I want to see is our city become even better at moving people.” We’ll cheers to that!
Transit Week 2013 kicked-off today with one of our region’s biggest advocates, New Orleans District C Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer, trading in her car for a multi-modal transit commute.
The Councilwoman met Ride’s Executive Director Rachel Heiligman and Transit Week Coordinator Adam at the Algiers Point ferry terminal for a beautiful early morning trip across the Mississippi River.
While aboard, Councilwoman Palmer discussed just what a vital link the ferry is in connecting large pools of workers to jobs. Pointing to major investments in employment centers like the $75 million renovation of the Riverwalk on the East Bank of the river and the major developments in film industry facilities and at Federal City on the West Bank, the Councilwoman made her case. Our April 2013 ferry ridership survey showed that she was spot on – we found that more than half of Algiers-Canal Street ferry riders are riding to get to and from work on a daily basis. Councilwoman Palmer added that because schools in New Orleans are not neighborhood based and are drawn from all over, it is also important that students have access to cross-river transit choices.
After disembarking at the Canal Street terminal, the Councilwoman heard ideas for improving public transportation from a streetcar operator switching lines on Canal Street. She then hopped aboard the recently opened Loyola-Union Passenger Terminal streetcar line for an easy ride to City Hall.
During the trip, which lasted about 30 minutes, we asked the Councilwoman what she was most proud of achieving as a transit advocate. She answered that she was proud of advancing complete streets legislation that requires all roadway improvements to be made with pedestrians, cyclists and transit riders – in addition to motorists – in mind. Palmer also set up a standing Sustainable Transportation Advisory Committee to advise the Council and City Hall on smart transportation policy and investments.
“Living in America is about choice,” she said “and that’s what transit is for. You can live and work wherever you want and transit is there to connect you.”
Stay tuned for Ride’s coverage of more notable New Orleanians riding transit during NOLA Transit Week 2013! Next up: State Representative Walt Leger III and beloved Commander’s Palace Maitre d’ Carl Fernandes.
The fight to save our ferries continues. Significant service cuts took place in July creating severe challenges for commuters and businesses alike. The service cuts are the State’s temporary solution to keep ferry service going while the State works with the Regional Transit Authority to transition ferry service to our local transit agency.
As you may recall, in June, the State legislature passed a bill that paved the way for the Regional Transit Authority to assume operations of the Algiers-Canal Street and Chalmette-Lower Coast Algiers ferries. The subsidy provided to the ferries by the tolls collected on the Crescent City Conneciton ended in 2012, making it necessary for the legislature to find new ways to subsidize ferry service. Their solution was to allow the RTA to charge fares on all ferry users to make the service financially sustainable. Currently, only a $1 fare is charged for ferry passengers bringing a vehicle aboard. The RTA is now presenting that fare structure and soliciting feedback at a public hearing and we’ve summarized our position on the fare structure and questions that we have for the RTA below.
What will the hours of operation be under the proposed fare structure?
Are there long-term plans to integrate the ferry fares with the bus and streetcar fares?
What improvements to the service can riders expect when the RTA takes over the system?
Last Friday, the State Department of Transportation and Development announced that they will end LA Swift bus service at the end of June. The LA Swift provides inter-city bus service between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. What started in 2006 as a post-Katrina recovery transportation service to help displaced residents rebuild their homes and lives has transformed into an essential transit connection carrying more than 12,000 riders monthly.
In April, Ride New Orleans, AARP Louisiana and the Center for Planning Excellence surveyed more than 300 LA Swift riders to reveal what the human and economic impacts of the loss of this service would mean for our region. Here’s what we learned.
According to a study by the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, in 2010, over 26,000 workers commuted from the Baton Rouge metro to the New Orleans metro, while 22,000 workers commuted in the opposite direction making our super region a place where “labor is pooled, and innovation and production are concentrated.”
At a time when we should be expanding connectivity between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, the elimination of LA Swift service will have devastating impacts for its regular riders.
Ride New Orleans encourages all who believe that the LA Swift is a critical transit service to take action by:
Call and email your City Council, Parish President and Mayor’s office to let them know how important continued LA Swift service is to you. Be sure to also reach out to regional public officials at the New Orleans and Capital Area Regional Planning Commissions.
LA Swift rider Melisa York was quick to take action by starting an online petition. Take a moment to sign the petition and recruit other riders, friends and family to sign on with their support for this critical service.
We are excited to formally release this report detailing the findings from our ferry rider survey. We will be presenting the report to business, elected officials, and community groups alike. Special thanks to everyone who volunteered and participated in our survey effort. This was definitely a group effort, and we couldn’t have gotten this far without you!
With the help of countless, dedicated volunteers, Ride New Orleans surveyed 1,575 ferry riders. The survey results reveal that the loss of the Algiers-Canal Street ferry would have major economic impacts on the New Orleans region.
“Without the ferry I would be a virtual prisoner, unable to leave Algiers Point without paying a hefty taxi fee or adding a lot of extra travel time to my commute,” says ferry rider and West Bank resident Kate Stiteler. “I work in the service industry. I’m a corporate training manager for a luxury hotel and could not do my job or share my skills with my hospitality team without the ferry.” Unfortunately, for Kate and the 1.3 million ferry riders who utilize the Algiers-Canal Street ferry annually, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LA DOTD) will cease to fund the ferry in June 2013 threatening continued service, unless a change is enacted.
The survey reveals a great deal about who rides the ferry each day and the role it plays in sustaining our local economy. More than half of ferry riders use the Algiers-Canal Street ferry in order to travel to and from work. In contrast, only 37% of the ferry riders we surveyed were riding for a tourist experience. The survey results show that of the riders using the ferry to get to work, almost half are employed in the hospitality and tourism industry and more than 80% live in West Bank neighborhoods ranging from Algiers Point to Terrytown and Gretna.
Of the riders who use the ferry to travel to work, 38% do not have access to a personal vehicle. This means that a significant number of workers in the hospitality, tourism, and other industries would be affected by the loss of ferry service. More than half of the ferry riders said they would either have a very difficult time accessing their job or would be unable to get to work if the ferry service is cut. While the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) does provide bus service across the river from Old Algiers into the heart of Downtown by way of the Crescent City Connection, many riders making this trip from various parts of Algiers and other West Bank communities would be required to transfer between a bus and a streetcar and would only have access to two buses travelling across the river after 10:00 pm – making for a long and difficult commute. In contrast, the Algiers-Canal Street ferry offers five-minute trips across the river every 30 minutes until 1 am each day.
The survey also shows that 20% of ferry riders travel with their bikes in order to make quick and easy connections to their destinations.
According to the U.S. Census American Community Survey released in 2011, the median housing price of the West Bank neighborhoods closest to the ferry terminal are more affordable than nearby East Bank neighborhoods – even those outside of the popular French Quarter and Central Business District – by a difference of more than $100,000. As a result, housing prices make the West Bank an attractive place to live for many middle and low-income families and for many hospitality and tourism industry workers who may have limited housing options otherwise.
Though many ferry riders have limited income, 68% indicated that they would be willing to pay a fare. Currently, only passengers bringing a vehicle on the Algiers-Canal Street ferry pay a fare of $1.00. Introducing a fare has significant potential to raise revenues to support continued ferry operations. A fare of $1.25 for all ferry riders – consistent with RTA’s bus and streetcar fares – could generate $1.6 million annually. That amount could cover close to half of the $4 million cost of operating and maintaining the Algiers-Canal Street ferry.
The Algiers-Canal Street ferry is in crisis due to an action in 2012 by the State legislature which voted to separate the ferries from their former funding source, the Crescent City Connection bridge tolls. As the fate of bridge tolls was under debate, the State legislature prohibited any future bridge tolls from funding the ferries – even if approved by voters. The law subsequently did not provide alternative funding sources or mechanisms to maintain ferry service. Thus, the future of the Algiers-Canal Street ferry service is in the hands of the State Legislature whose current legislative session is underway.
Let’s hope that our legislators act quickly to find funding for the Algiers-Canal Street ferry. If they don’t, more than 1,500 jobs could be jeopardized by stripping workers of their basic means to get to work.
The RTA released a new Social Equity and Environmental Justice Policy Manual last week. On Wednesday, April 10th, the RTA will hold a public meeting before adopting the policy manual that establishes a public engagement process while also considering the social equity impacts of the important decisions the RTA makes.
We’ve read the manual cover to cover and wanted to share our thoughts, concerns and recommendations for improving the manual with you. First things first, let’s start with the important details.
The RTA’s Title VI and Environmental Justice Policy Manual was established to ensure that the social equity and environmental impacts of major bus and streetcar service changes under consideration by the agency are fully understood and to provide the public with more opportunities to get involved in transportation decision-making.
All transit agencies must adopt Title VI and environmental justice guidelines due to new requirements put in place by the United States Federal Transit Administration.
You can find out more here:
The policy manual establishes a new public engagement process on changes to the RTA service with the goal of reducing negative impacts to low-income and minority populations. This is the first time the RTA has established a formal policy on public engagement.
According to the RTA, the policy manual seeks to:
The RTA will be required to hold public meetings and conduct new social equity and environmental justice analyses any time the agency proposes a major service changes impacting minority transit routes.
The RTA defines a major service change as:
While the RTA’s plan is a step in the right direct, Ride New Orleans would like to see increased rider representation, and transparency in decision making by the RTA board and Veolia. Ride will submit the following comments to the RTA as they consider adoption of this policy. To see our full list of recommendations, click here.
The Algiers Point and Gretna ferries will lose their funding in June 2013, and ferry service is in danger of being drastically reduced or cut altogether.
Ferries have been in operation in our region since the 1830s. In 2012, the State legislature voted to strip the ferries of their dedicated funding source by prohibiting any future toll monies collected on the Crescent City Connection twin span bridge from funding the ferries. With toll funding no longer available for the ferries, the State Legislature failed to provide other funding mechanisms for maintaining ferry service.
The Mississippi River is what defines our region, economy and landscape. It also poses a significant barrier between our east and west bank neighborhoods. The Crescent City Connection twin span bridge provides cross-river access for vehicles but no accommodations for pedestrians or cyclists.
Fortunately, the ferries have been able to fill that that gap. The Algiers Point ferry serves 1.1 million pedestrian passengers and 175,000 vehicle passengers per year providing early morning and late evening service. The Gretna ferry also provides a critical service; however, ridership is less readily available due to infrequent service operations in recent years.
While the RTA does provide bus service across the river, connecting from the Algiers Point ferry terminal to the Canal Street ferry terminal requires riders to transfer between two buses and a streetcar – but only until 9pm – making for a long and difficult trip. Making the trip from the Gretna ferry terminal to the Canal Street ferry terminal is not possible with the current bus service offered by JeT.
With more affordable housing options available on the west bank and job opportunities clustered on the east bank in the CBD and French Quarter, ensuring continued ferry service is critical.
Our regional ferries are operated and maintained by the State Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD). The Regional Planning Commission (RPC) provides advisory and oversight to DOTD.
DOTD warns that without the allocation of dedicated funds to support future ferry operations, the Algiers and Gretna ferries will cease operations in July 2013.
The RPC is studying all options to save the ferries – from raising vehicle ferry fares and introducing pedestrian and cyclist ferry fares to using vehicle license registration fees – discussions are on-going but no one clear solution has yet emerged.
The first step of our campaign to save the ferries is to make sure that policy and decision-makers – from the Governor and State Legislature all the way down to our local officials – hear us loud and clear and understand exactly who will be impacted by the loss of the ferries. We have developed a survey for ferry riders, and we will spend all day riding the ferries with volunteers on Saturday, April 6 and Tuesday, April 9.
With your help, Ride New Orleans is launching a campaign to:
For the ferries,
Regular bus catchers, ferry riders, urban cyclers, and streetcar surfers: allow me to introduce myself!
My name is Adelaide, and I am so unbelievably excited to be on board as Ride New Orleans first Lead Organizer. For the past four years, I’ve organized students and non-student youth for climate and environmental justice on the state, regional, and national levels with the Coalition of Alabama Students for the Environment, the Southern Energy Network, and the Sierra Student Coalition.
While I hail from Alabama, growing up, I ventured to New Orleans many times on our yearly family trip, so this fine city has always been my home away from home. Since making NOLA my permanent home, before finding Ride New Orleans, I worked as a semi-professional closet organizer, and ate my weight in crawfish, while volunteering to organize restaurant workers with the Restaurant Opportunities Center.
History has proven that organizing people for power is the greatest way to bring about just, long-term, transformational change, and as Lead Organizer, I plan to do just that: organize transit riders to gain power in the transportation decisions that affect them the most.
Transit riders: I am accountable only to you.
My job is to listen to YOU, to hear your stories, to learn about your experiences and frustrations. What would you like to see more of? Less of? Together, we will rally around a central set of rider-led priorities to ensure that all transit policy decisions are made with your input.
Right now, ferry riders are counting the days until they’ll be forced to find another way to cross the mighty Mississippi, and LA Swift riders may be left on the side of the road in Baton Rouge unless we work together to find funding for these vital services. Stay tuned for action alerts over the next few weeks.
To ensure we never face this kind of transportation crisis again, we must get organized.
Over the next few months, we will be hosting a handful of film screening and discussion nights. We will watch a documentary about the Los Angeles Bus Rider’s Union and begin to discuss what a transit riders union can accomplish in New Orleans. After that, with your input, we’ll launch this city’s first Transit Riders Bill of Rights.
So, if you’re reading this, you’re a regular transit rider, and you have something to say, PLEASE: Give me a call, send me a text, or write me an e-mail. I’ll catch a bus, streetcar, or ferry to come meet with with you in person.
N. Rampart / St. Claude Streetcar
RTA seeks public comments on N. Rampart / St. Claude streetcar design
We all love New Orleans’ streetcars – they’re a huge part of our city’s charm. But as much as we love them, we know that our streetcars rarely operate on schedule, often show up back to back after painfully long waits, and that they’re not known for their speed.
What you may not know is that with some simple design and operational improvements, our streetcars would provide greater reliability and get you to where you’re going more quickly.
The RTA and their design team are hard at work on plans for the N. Rampart / St. Claude streetcar line.
Ride New Orleans is kicking off 2013 with three amazing opportunities to have a lasting impact on our organization and our regional transportation network. Read on and consider getting involved with Ride today.
One of our primary goals this year is to develop the region’s first-ever coalition of transit riders. Some of the most successful transit authorities across the nation are supported and pushed to do better by a well-organized group of transit riders. There’s power in numbers and we’re thrilled to be hiring a Lead Organizer to oversee this effort. If you’re passionate about transit, social justice and have experience in community organizing, this opportunity is perfect for you. Check out the job announcement to learn more and submit your application no later than Friday, January 18th.
Calling all transportation policy wonks, legal experts, finance specialists, data analysts and urban planners! Serving on Ride’s Policy Committee is a volunteer role that provides members with an opportunity to shape a progressive transportation agenda. We ask for a 6-month commitment that will require about 6 to 10 hours a month of your time. Expand your network by meeting like-minded transportation thinkers and civic leaders. Work alongside our Executive Director and Board of Directors while you hone your skills. What are you waiting for? Apply today!
As a rapidly growing organization we need visionary leadership and expertise to continue to thrive. As a director on our board, you’ll work with our Executive Director and the rest of our active board, to help shape the future of this dynamic and innovative non-profit. Our Board of Directors oversees sets the strategic vision for Ride New Orleans while supporting the organization to ensure that:
Take advantage of this unique opportunity to be a leader of Ride New Orleans. Applications for Board seats are due Friday, January 18th.
Transit Week 2012 is upon us. Leave your car behind and try a transit commute!
Transit Week is a time to celebrate transit and raise awareness about the importance of world class transit to the economic vitality, sustainability and health of New Orleans and the greater region.
Throughout Transit Week, Ride New Orleans will promote education and engagement in critical issues confronting transit riders and encourage New Orleanians to leave their cars at home and try transit.
Join us for one of the many events and activities listed below. Happy riding!
Major changes to 20 of the Regional Transit Authority’s streetcar and bus lines will be considered at an October 10, 2012 public hearing and a series of public workshops are underway. The proposed service changes are described below.
Regional Transit Authority’s streetcar and bus lines will be considered at an October 10, 2012 public hearing. Transport for NOLA has significant concerns with the RTA’s proposals– most of which stem from the changes proposed to the CBD transfer station.
Transport for NOLA believes that the CBD transfer station should be centrally located, facilitate easy connections to Jefferson Parish Transit buses and the new Loyola Streetcar line, and include design features such as ample shade and seating, information kiosks, next bus arrival signage, restrooms, concession areas and more.
Transport for NOLA has significant concerns with the RTA’s proposals– most of which stem from the changes proposed to the CBD transfer station. More than 14,000 transit riders pass through transfer point daily.
Many organizations involved with the CONNECT Coalition, including Transport for NOLA, have been working to advance a passenger rail line between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Please read on for an opportunity to support this effort shared with us by our partners at the CONNECT Coalition:
Approximately every 10 years the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) updates Louisiana’s comprehensive master plan for transportation across the state. Throughout 2012 and 2013, DOTD will be undertaking this update working with a team of consultants, conducting research and receiving public input.
State Rail Plan
In order for Louisiana to qualify for future rail funding, a State Rail Plan must be completed and include specific standards and data as required by the federal government. Public input is crucial for the success of any planning effort.
A public meeting for the State Rail Plan will take place Tuesday, October 2, 4-6 PM at the Regional Transportation Management Center, 10 Veterans Memorial Blvd., New Orleans.
The CONNECT Coalition has developed the following talking points to help support efforts to link Baton Rouge and New Orleans:
Hope to see you there!
In August, we announced that the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority released their real-time data following up the release of their map and schedule data in March. With newly open transit data, independent software developers like Joel Carranza are busy putting the transit data to work. Joel’s ‘NOLA Transit’ is now available for the iPhone and iPod Touch. The timing couldn’t be better – Apple’s newest iPhones have eliminated the ability to map transit directions – a prominent feature of ‘NOLA Transit’
We asked Joel a few questions about the app, what inspired him and what is next for ‘NOLA Transit’.
NOLA Transit provides easy-to-access directions for the occasional rider and complete schedule information for those of us who take public transportation
Are you a transit rider? If so, what’s your regular route?
I take the 15 almost every day.
I felt frustrated by what was out there for riders and when the RTA
released their schedule data I figured I could make something that
made everyone’s lives just a tiny bit easier.
I designed the app so that you can still access all of the schedule
information even if you don’t have cell phone coverage. That makes it
really fast to use and it means that you’re never stuck at a bus stop
without knowing what’s up.
Do you have any plans to incorporate additional features?
Absolutely. I know that transit riders want access to the real-time bus information and that is coming in the next release. I’ve got a long list of other improvements I would like to make but I wanted to get the app out there and let feedback from the community at large drive what gets added next.
New Orleans transit riders are going to have access to a whole new set
of resources that previously only existed in big cities like New York
or Boston. That means easier, more enjoyable rides for everyone from
the tourist to the daily commuter.
And stay tuned for more exciting announcements on people putting the RTA’s open data to work – including an exciting partnership between Transport for NOLA and Apptitude New Orleans.