Making Sense of the RTA Social Equity and Environmental Justice Policy

April 8, 2013

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.

Public Meeting Notice

  • When: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 6:00 PM
  • Where: RTA Building, 2817 Canal Street, New Orleans, LA 70119
  • Getting there: Accessible from the Canal Streetcar and #94 Broad Bus

What is the RTA’s New Policy Manual?

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:

Why is the Policy Manual Important?

 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:

  1. Ensure that transportation service is available and accessible for every person, regardless of their race, color or national origin
  2. Identify and limit negative impacts on human health and the environmental – including social and economic effects of major service changes on minority and low-income populations
  3. Create more opportunities for riders to participate in transportation decision-making
  4. Prevent denial, reduction, or delay in major service change benefits to minority or low-income populations
  5. To ensure that those riders with limited understanding of English have equal access to information.

What does it mean for my bus / streetcar commute?

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:

  • Any change of more than 25% of the revenue hours (aka hours that a bus or streetcar line is accepting passengers) or route miles (aka the distance the route travels) on a given transit route
  • Any change to the span of service on a given transit route of 2 hours or more
  • The introduction of any new transit route
  • The discontinuation of a route or portion of a route with no alternative service within ¼ mile

Our suggestions to make this new policy stronger

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.