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 below.
I use RTA practically every day to go shopping, to the doctor, and whenever I just want to ride around sometimes. I generally take the Louisa, the 88 St. Claude, the 39 Tulane and the 94 Broad buses.
For the most part if I look at the schedule it’s pretty much on time. Other times, you may look at the schedule but it takes 40 minutes to an hour later for the bus to come. People are late for work and, for me, if I’m leaving an hour and half early and I can’t get there on time then there’s a problem. Then I’m late to my doctor’s appointment and they’ll make me reschedule or sit down and treat me as a walk in--and that’s not fair if you’re out there at the stop on time.
So, I’d like to see more on-time service and reliability with the schedule so you can plan your trip to the tee. I also think that the RTA staff should ride the bus more often, especially during peak hours where there’s a lot of overcrowding.
Whatever bus comes first along St. Claude is the transit I use every day to get to and from work on Canal Street. I also take Jackson / Esplanade to get to Delgado twice a week. The bus is great because number one—I don’t have to drive! No parking problems, I don’t have to pay for parking. I don’t have to worry about traffic—someone else can worry about it. I can read a book, and even now a days you could watch a movie. I talk to friends, meet new people and share stories.
My number one problem with the RTA is the schedules, they’re just not reliable. I don’t have a problem with a lot things, you know, I’m not asking for a limousine. I need a convenient, reasonable and a regular schedule for the bus and if they did that I probably wouldn’t have a complaint at all. But the way it is now it takes way too long. They need more frequent service especially during rush hours. Ideally buses would run every five to ten minutes during rush hours. Transit is a big part of civic life in New Orleans and when I ride, I feel part of a greater community where I can talk with people from all walks of life.
I take the St. Claude bus, most often in the evenings, from the Lower Nine to travel home after working a long day. My father was a streetcar operator, so I am very familiar with and enjoy using public transportation. I ride to Canal and Rampart and only have to walk a couple of blocks home off Jackson. Even though you are able to transfer to many buses from Canal, I have noticed that if someone is traveling to Jefferson Parish, for example, they must walk to another less convenient location to catch another bus. Riders' commutes should be more seamless with less transfers. Additionally, to increase the ease for riders and quality, I believe routes originally ending at Canal should be better coordinated with routes for other parishes' transportation systems to make the routes better fit the needs of many riders.
I work downtown Monday through Friday. I live in St. Bernard Parish and choose to ride the bus in order to save money from parking downtown. I ride to the parish line to try to catch the 88. If I’m running late I ride along St. Claude in my car to another stop. If I go all the way to Esplanade, I can catch three buses. It could be the 88, 51 or 91. You have options and that’s good. What I enjoy about the bus is that I can relax, read, go on Facebook, or anything else while someone else is driving me to work, but more options to ease my commute would be better. In the future, I would like to see buses running more frequently to make it easier to catch the bus from my home to downtown and connect people between other parishes and even some park and ride options.
My brother and I use transit to go downtown to work everyday. If we’re off work, we may take the bus to run errands. I come from a local St. Bernard bus that stops at St. Claude then catch the St. Claude bus at Aycock St. The bus connection allows us to travel into the city, but the buses are not coordinated, making the trip longer and more expensive. Also, the bus stop lacks shade, so we have to stand close to a nearby building for cover where the bus sometimes has difficulty knowing if we’re waiting for it. Sometimes the St. Claude bus will pull off before waiting to make sure the St. Bernard passengers are not transferring. Even though the buses at St. Claude and Aycock are from two different parishes, they should be more coordinated. To improve transit, buses from different parishes should be more integrated to make it easier to travel from St. Bernard parish to the CBD and be more accommodating and conscious of its patrons.
I work in Jackson Square. I’m a pastry chef and assist in deliveries for my partner’s floral shop in the afternoons. I live in the Bywater off Royal about a block away off Chartres. I ride the bus some mornings because it’s incredibly convenient to get to work quickly. I am able to get to work within 15 minutes with time to spare before I start. I like riding the bus, but the waiting in the afternoon is frustrating. On the way home, I don’t know what time it runs. I just stand there some days. I had the app, but I got rid of it because the trackers were unreliable. The bus delays impact my partner’s business and the deliveries I need to make because I never know what time I will arrive. It doesn’t bother me to wait, but I would just like to know when to expect the bus. One day, I hope to have my own business in the St. Claude corridor and believe the increased connections are a good thing. To improve our transit system, I would like more accurate tracking and better communication.
The bus is my primary mode of transportation. I catch the Galvez bus from my house to the grocery store. When I’m going to church or the doctor’s office, I only have to take one bus and it places me within steps of where I normally need to go. The reduced senior citizen fare makes taking the bus very affordable as I am on a fixed income, but I cannot travel on longer rides with transfers. I’ve recently hurt my knee and even with doctor approval, I have not been approved for paratransit services. If I had these services, I could get to all the places I enjoy. I like visiting churches in other parts of the city, but if I want to visit a church in Uptown, I cannot go because the ride includes transferring to three different buses. There must be an easier and more transparent system to apply and qualify for paratransit services.
I get on the bus in my neighborhood at St. Claude and Forstall to travel to work at a department store on Veterans Memorial. I normally take the 88 St. Claude bus down to Canal and Rampart then transfer to the Jackson Esplanade bus. I enjoy that I am able to get to work from living across the bridge, but because the ride is uncomfortable, I wish my commute was shorter than 2-3 hours. I am often left standing at a stop for a long time because the bus is late making transferring buses more difficult. In the evening when I get off work, it takes even longer to get home because buses are running even less frequently. On the bus, the rider rules are not consistently enforced and lack of cleanliness makes the ride uncomfortable. My hope for our transportation system is that transfers are easier, so that all riders, especially from the Lower Ninth are able to access employment opportunities safely and with ease.
I have several transit options along Rampart and St. Claude. Once I get to the bus stop, the 57 Franklin is basically door-to-door for me to get from my house to my job at Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO). It takes me directly where I need to go and is exactly the same route a car would go.
I’m a teacher and a social worker being, I want to ensure everyone has great access to public transit. I have students from all over, and they’re traveling between New Orleans East, the West Bank, and Metairie with so many transfers late at night and, it’s just a much harder time.
The regional fares need to be fixed because you have to pay all over again. That’s over $5 a day every day. It’s too much. We need more central transfer points where routes overlap for more transit choices and better transfers. I’d like to see quality transit for everyone, and I’d like to see more service geared toward locals for people who live here, shop here, and work here.