Summer is here! And with it comes our June month-in-review. Read on below to catch up on all things happening in the world of New Orleans regional transit:
Better late than never, RTA to improve on-time performance?
Buses that don’t come on time are endlessly frustrating for riders. In 2019, before the collapse of the Hard Rock Hotel, the RTA’s on-time performance (OTP) for buses was just 71.8%. But this spring the RTA’s operations team has taken a more deliberate approach to improving OTP across the system. Many of the fixes are slated to take effect on June 20. We’re cautiously optimistic that riders might see real results – take a look at why in our latest blog post.
What’s new with New Links?
New Links means more frequent, reliable service but that also comes with some big changes. Since the RTA approved New Links adoption in March, implementation plans have been slow to take form – which has worried RIDE. After all, a plan is no good if it’s never implemented effectively. Over the last few weeks, though, we’ve started to hear more about the potential timeline, with large scale changes aimed for winter 2022 and a handful of smaller changes (like added frequency on the #88 St Claude and #91 Jackson Esplanade) implemented over the next few months. We also expect some federally mandated hearings on some of the proposed changes before they can be implemented. We’ll keep you posted as we learn more!
Downtown transfer center updates
While the location for the downtown transfer center was decided upon in March, the RTA still hasn’t identified a funding source. That means we’re still at least three years away from any grand opening. Where should the downtown hub be over the next few years? At the June Rider’s Advisory Committee meeting, RTA said they want to improve the current ad hoc situation at Duncan Plaza but don’t yet have a timeline for improvements. At the meeting RTA staff floated the possibility of relocating to the corner of Tulane and Loyola (by the New Orleans public library) was discussed, as well as the previous Elk and Canal location. There should be more opportunities to be involved in this discussion in the next two months – we’ll keep you posted!
Back to full service!
The RTA is returning to full service starting June 20th! They’ve been at Saturday level service since May of 2020. This service reduction was very necessary at the height of the pandemic, when the RTA was struggling to keep service running, with huge reductions in the local sales tax the agency depends on. But after a few rounds of emergency federal funding, it was high time to return to full service. Let us know how the return goes for you – and look for the New Links-recommended increased frequency on the #88 St. Claude and #91 Jackson-Esplanade as well!
Permanent help for transit riders?
While the emergency federal funding for transit has helped agencies get through the last year, there’s still a big disconnect between the service riders need and the local funding to pay for it – especially in less wealthy regions like our own. That could change with Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson’s “Stronger Communities through Better Transit Act” – just introduced this week! This act calls for $20 billion annually exclusively for transit operations over the next four years, funds that could make a real difference. If you would like to support the bill, asking your congressperson to cosponsor the bill is a big help, and you can do so here.
Welcome our new Board President, Sebrina Bush Hillard!
Please join us in welcoming our new Ride Board President Sebrina Bush Hillard! Sebrina, whose term as board chair will start July 1, is a New Orleans East resident and has been on our board since July 2019, serving as Board Secretary since 2020. “I hope to support the Ride team in their great work of understanding riders and advocating for rider needs,” Sebrina says. When Sebrina isn’t working with the Ride board or running her commercial insurance brokerage firm with her dad, she’s gardening or volunteering with the Rotary Club of Mid-City, among other organizations. Sebrina is a regular rider of the #62 Morrison and the #88 Saint Claude.
Transit-oriented communities (TOCs) are neighborhoods where there are lots of accessible transportation choices, housing that’s affordable for a wide range of people, and street and sidewalk designs that make it easy to walk and take transit. In the wake of New Links’ approval, New Orleans is looking to leverage the New Links transit network redesign to build more inclusive transit oriented communities – which would mean more accessible affordable housing AND better transit service Please get involved in this important process and take this survey to tell the city about YOUR ideas for TOCs.