The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) is spending almost $1 million to create a long-term strategic transit plan for the next 20 years. Called the “Strategic Mobility Plan,” this process is a great opportunity for New Orleans transit riders to win a step-by-step, community-supported process to make our transit system more equitable and more effective.
But there’s no guarantee that this will be the end result. Without the right approach and without community support, we risk wasting these funds and squandering an important chance to improve transit. That’s why Ride New Orleans will make sure the community knows what’s going on and push for policies and solutions that will help today’s riders as much and as quickly as possible.
The upcoming five to six months may be the most important time for the community to weigh in. During this period, the RTA will release draft goals, objectives, and strategies to make those objectives happen.
In more practical terms, this is the time where, for instance, we might:
- Win a goal of better connectivity, an associated objective of more routes between Orleans and Jefferson parishes, and a strategy to implement five new regional transit lines in the next five years.
- Win a goal to increase equitable transportation, an associated objective to implement achievable benchmarks on improving access to opportunity, and a strategy to make sure 80 percent of the jobs in the region are accessible via transit to NOLA residents in 60 minutes or less (currently only 44 percent are).
- Win a goal of more reliable service, an associated objective of creating a high frequency network, and a strategy to make sure a bus comes every 15 minutes or less on 10 key connecting transit lines throughout the system.
While we absolutely need to see much more than just the three examples above, all of them would make transit work much better for existing riders and would give the RTA specific marching orders for how to implement and prioritize improvements in the coming years.
That’s basically what we need to get out of this process – a clear, community-supported way to make NOLA transit work better for the people who count on it.
On May 16th, the RTA will release draft goals and objectives. They say these goals and objectives will reflect both a previous round of community input over the winter and internal data gathering and analysis about transit needs today and over the next two decades. They expected to start public outreach around the draft goals and objectives in early June.
They then plan to update the goals and objective based on feedback and propose a package of different strategies for the community to evaluate and weigh. That part will likely take place in August and September. That will lead to a draft version of the full plan which is scheduled to be finalized by the end of 2017.
We’ll have more details and analysis on all of these pieces as they are made public. We will also let you know how to make your voice heard in this process .
And be ready – we may need your help to tell the RTA that they need to ensure additional public meetings and bring additional voices into the process.
In the meantime, you can catch up on recommendations we’ve already made: