The New Links regional transit network redesign final proposal is here! More than two years after this community-driven process to rethink and jump-start the region’s transit system began, there is a real plan.
As you know, the region’s transit system hasn’t been working for many riders. It takes way too long to get to most destinations, buses are unreliable and often late, and connecting across parish lines is difficult.
The New Links network redesign was started to fix these problems, but in the knowledge that new funding for transit was unlikely – at least for the next several years. New Links set out to see if it is possible to redesign our transit network – to rethink how we deploy our existing resources and make transit service work better for today’s riders.
Did they accomplish that goal?
Ultimately that is for you to decide. But from RIDE’s perspective, the answer is 100%, yes!
New Links proposes three big changes to the network that will make a HUGE difference for transit riders in the years to come:
- New Links will make buses more frequent: New Links will make transit more frequent, with 16 lines that come every 20 minutes or less – double the number today! And that’s seven days a week from early in the morning to late at night.
- New Links will make buses more reliable: Lines have been redrawn to make it easier to stay on schedule and be more predictable for riders.
- New Links will make buses more regional: New Links will mean two new frequent, reliable connections between downtown New Orleans and the East Bank of Jefferson Parish (including to the airport!), and will make it much easier to connect between parishes on the West Bank.
Best of all, tying all of this together and giving it deep meaning for our region’s future is a strong focus on equity. There will be huge gains in easy access to frequent transit for riders of color, lower-income transit riders, and households without access to a car.
There are tradeoffs, of course.
There will be the challenge of learning a greatly changed system. There will also be slightly less coverage in certain areas of the region, with resources deployed to areas of greater need – that could mean a little more walking for a few riders. And some riders will need to make an additional transfer, though their wait for the connecting bus should be minuscule compared to today and their overall should be improved or at least the same.
But we believe those tradeoffs are very much worth it.
A New Links implementation will mean that RIDE’s very aspirational mission statement – world-class and equitable public transit for the New Orleans region – will be closer to a reality than at any time since Hurricane Katrina.
We think that’s a pretty big deal and an opportunity the New Orleans region can’t afford to lose.
And please let us know your thoughts and comments as you review the final proposal.