New Orleans Transit-Reliant Citizens “Still Face Huge Disadvantages ” Including Racial Disparities, Report Finds

RTA bio-diesel bus No. 238 waiting for passengers near the Claiborne Avenue St. Charles Streetcar terminal. Photo by VXLA | License

In spite of recent forward progress, New Orleans transit riders “still face huge disadvantages” when compared to car riders, says a recent report from nonprofit advocacy group Ride New Orleans. The 2022 State of Transit Report found that although the New Links network redesign recently rolled out by the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) did result in some improvements, a lot more work is needed.

According to the report, an average transit-reliant resident can only reach seven percent of jobs across the Greater New Orleans region in 3o minutes or less, and only 37 percent in an hour or less. However, those numbers are largely dependent on where in New Orleans you live. For example, From New Orleans East, only one percent of jobs are accessible in 30 minutes or less via public transit, only seven percent with a 45-minute commute, only 19% within an hour, and only 46% are accessible within 90 minutes. Similar transportation gaps exist when the transit system is examined along racial lines:

Graphic courtesy RIDE New Orleans State of Transit 2022 Report

“While the average white resident in New Orleans can reach 41 percent of the region’s jobs in 60 minutes or less via transit during the middle of the day, the average Black household can only reach 34 percent of the region’s jobs via transit during the same hour time period,” the report states.

“It’s true that there will always be a certain advantage for car trips – especially absent investments in transit prioritization that allows transit to eschew congestion and delay. But such a stark disadvantage for transit riders is indicative of a problem. AAA says that the average annual cost of owning a vehicle was $10,728 in 2022. That’s 40 percent of the annual income for a family of four at the federally designated poverty level of $26,500. If we want to make a real dent in the inequities of our region, we have to provide better access to jobs via transit.”

New RTA Fares were rolled out in September 2022

One of the most celebrated changes brought by the New Links rollout was a new fare policy that resulted in permanent fare reductions for many riders – particularly New Orleans youth. In addition, in September 2022, RTA announced that there will be fare-free transit on certain election days, as well as on the birthdays of Rosa Parks (February 4) and Claudette Colvin (September 5). In spite of these improvements, RIDE notes that they would like to see New Orleans youth ride fare-free across the region, and better fare integration between RTA and Jefferson Parish Transit (JP Transit).

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