With support from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Ride New Orleans partnered with the Greater New Orleans Hotel and Lodging Association (GNOHLA) to survey the transportation needs and experiences of the hotel industry workforce.
Over 500 hotel workers from 32 different hotels in the French Quarter and New Orleans CBD took the survey between November 2018 and February 2019. 48 percent of the survey takers said they regularly commute to work via public transit – demonstrating how important effective transit service is for the industry.
Unfortunately, the survey reveals that transportation is a real problem for transit-reliant hotel workers.
Over 60 percent of transit riders were late to work at least once within the previous month because of unreliable and more than 1/3 were late three times or more.
The average “door to door” commute time for transit riders is 46-minutes – twice the average New Orleans commute time. Even more challenging, nearly one of every three transit riders has a one-way commute of 60-minutes-or-longer, while over 3/4 of transit-reliant employees are “time- burdened” – defined as having a one-way commute time of 30-minutes-or-more.
The survey also revealed the importance of a conveniently-located central transfer station. During their daily trips, two out of three transit-reliant hospitality workers travel through the main transfer site at Elk Place at Canal (temporarily moved to Duncan Plaza as of October 2019 due to the Hard Rock collapse). This is where the majority of buses from New Orleans East and the West Bank unload passengers.
A full 68 percent of these riders say they walk from the transfer site. The RTA and City have been in renewed discussions recently around building a more traditional transit center to better serve regional transit riders. The high number of riders who walk to work from the current transfer point illustrates the importance of location in the discussion. Any decision to move the location of the transit center needs to take that into account and not inadvertently make life harder for transit riders
The survey also asks hotel workers what types of changes they might prioritize in the New Links regional transit network redesign process – taking place in 2019 and 2020. When asked about tradeoffs and priorities, hotel workers indicated a willingness to transfer more if it meant improved service. In the abstract, they were more skeptical about walking further, as many are already walking significant distances. But a majority said they would walk five minutes from their place of work to catch a hypothetical downtown circulator bus if it meant that the bus would arrive every 15 minutes-or-less.
For the full survey and results, keep reading below: