The State of Transit in New Orleans
RIDE New Orleans tracks transit recovery and expansion with our signature and annual report, The State of Transit in New Orleans.
2015: Ten Years After Katrina
- We’re making progress – NORTA has restored bus routes that were cut following Katrina and added frequency throughout the system, all while steering the agency to financial stability, successfully negotiating for cost savings, service improvements in their new contract with operator and manager TransDev (formerly, Veolia Transportation). At the same time, the City of New Orleans’ leaders have created a favorable policy climate that values integrated land use, workforce and transportation policies, opening the door for NORTA and the City to advance holistic improvements to our public transit service and infrastructure.
- But we still have a ways to go – 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.
- A way forward – The recovery has been uneven, because it has been the result of a series of ad-hoc decisions. The agency still lacks an integrated vision, guided by community priorities. It is missing a framework with which to evaluate and weigh investment outcomes among competing interests for limited resources. NORTA should act immediately to develop a truly comprehensive transit master plan, together with their many stakeholders. With the City preparing to embark on an update of the Master Plan, NORTA and City leaders must work collaboratively to ensure that transit service seamlessly supports anticipated developments and growth while connecting people to economic opportunity throughout New Orleans and the surrounding region.
2014: The Need for a More Efficient, Equitable and Sustainable System
Click here to read our 2014 analysis, entitled “The State of Transit in New Orleans: The Need for a More Efficient, Equitable, and Sustainable System”
RIDE New Orleans’ analysis in this report highlights several critical findings.
- First, our research confirms that, by the end of 2012, just 36% of the pre-Katrina transit service offered by the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) in 2005 had been restored – although 86% of New Orleans’ population had returned to the city.
- Second, our analysis shows that these service reductions have been worst in areas where transit service is needed most: low-income neighborhoods, communities of color, and areas where people have less access to personal vehicles.
- Third, our analysis of the RTA’s finances shows that the agency is operating at a significant deficit every year and will soon run out of cash reserve funds. Some of the basic causes of the deficit are clear: our transit system costs more to operate than comparable systems and it charges lower fares. Yet, to date, the conversation about correcting the deficit has centered only on a potential fare increase. The findings in this report indicate that any sustainable solution to the deficit will need to involve lowering the costs of service as well as increasing revenues of all types.