Wednesday, April 26th, 2023
This afternoon, New Orleans City Council Vice President Helena Moreno publicly called for zero fares for youth on transit, along with a further study of fare exemptions for low-income riders. Ride New Orleans (RIDE) is excited that Councilmember Moreno supports zero fares for youth, one of the key priorities identified in the New Orleans Youth Master Plan. In October 2022, RIDE released a white paper, “Fare Free Transit for Youth in New Orleans,” which made the policy case for zero fares for youth, highlighting precedents for fare free transit for youth in other cities including Boston, San Francisco, and Omaha.
RIDE backs zero fares for youth, but we need to make sure it’s done right. RIDE has made very clear throughout our research and advocacy that the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) cannot be burdened with the cost of implementing zero fares, which will cost approximately $430,000-$450,000 annually according to RIDE’s analysis.
RIDE believes our next step to ensure this works is to secure ARPA funds to conduct an on-the-ground year long pilot (or study) for zero fares for youth. Such a pilot would allow the City and RTA to evaluate how zero fares could benefit New Orleans youth, in order to gain more detailed information about the benefits and costs of such a program.
We’re ready to partner with City leadership to make zero fares a reality, and are looking forward to supporting Councilmember Moreno and the RTA to make sure this heavy lift yields long term positive results for our region’s youth. Zero fares could create ample opportunities for New Orleans youth, but we need advocates, council members, and Mayor Cantrell to work as a team to make those opportunities a reality.
Thank you to Councilmember Moreno for advancing this effort.
Executive Director, Ride New Orleans