New Orleans Bus Service, Devastated by Katrina, Starts to Rebound

Members of Ride New Orleans rallied to support badly needed transit service increases yesterday. Photo: Ride New Orleans
Members of Ride New Orleans rallied to support badly needed transit service increases Tuesday. Photo: Ride New Orleans

Bus service in New Orleans never quite recovered from Hurricane Katrina. As of 2015, a full 10 years after the devastating floods, only 35 percent of bus service had been restored, according to the transit advocacy group Ride New Orleans — even though 86 percent of the city’s population had returned.

On Sunday, residents of The Big Easy got a much-needed transit boost, when expanded bus service went into effect. The regional transit agency increased service along 22 routes — 21 bus routes and one streetcar route — including restoration of late night service on nine routes. Overall, that represents an 11 percent increase in service, according to RTA. The funding to provide more bus runs came from an unexpected increase in sales tax revenues to the agency.

Ride New Orleans had been critical of the city’s rush to restore streetcar service — the more tourist-oriented mode — at the expense of the bus system that carries more riders and local residents. In 2015, New Orleans streetcar service was actually 3 percent higher than before the storm, Ride New Orleans reported.

On Tuesday the group held a rally to support the changes, but much more still needs to be done to get bus service back to where it should be.

“It’s just a really solid step in the right direction,” said Ride New Orleans’ Alex Posorske. “They were hearing from advocates and from us and from other advocates that there is a need to restore service and they were hearing that loud and clear.”

output_xobNVF-1
Ten years after Katrina, New Orleans bus service was still nowhere near its former levels. Now that’s starting to change. Map: Ride New Orleans

Cedric Thompson, a New Orleans resident who takes transit to school, said he hopes this will make life easier.

“At times it can get very hard going back and forth between the West Bank, the Central Business District, and Gentilly,” he told Streetsblog in an email. “I’m hopeful that these new changes are a step in the right direction.”

  • calwatch

    Now if only they could improve reliability. In my experience riding New Orleans transit I found the entire system, bus and streetcar, to be horribly unreliable with random trips being missed. The nice thing is that there is real time bus information, the problem is that when a trip doesn’t show up you can’t determine whether it’s a missed run or the driver forgetting to turn on the locator.

  • CeeTee55

    It took 11 years?

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Why Transit Agencies Expand Even When They Struggle to Provide Service

|
New Orleans transit is in bad shape, as we reported recently. The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority has never recovered from Hurricane Katrina and service is at about 36 percent of pre-storm levels despite the region’s population rebound. New Orleans’ frequent service lines have been slashed dramatically. Even newly built streetcar lines are running infrequently. […]

In New Orleans, LaHood Unveils $280M in Streetcar and Bus Grants

|
During a visit to New Orleans, where city planners are seeking nearly $100 million in federal stimulus money for three new streetcar lines, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced plans to award $280 million in grants for streetcar and bus networks. New Orleans is counting on bonds, backed by sales taxes, to finance new streetcar […]

UPDATED: Last Night’s Quiet Transit Victories

|
Yesterday was a relatively quiet election day for transportation-related ballot measures, but of the six transit initiatives that came before voters yesterday, five six passed, with a sixth seventh too close to call. That’s in line with last year’s 79 percent success rate — 71 percent since 2000. When asked, voters overwhelmingly choose to raise […]

Transit Outsourcing Booms — But Are There Safety Trade-offs?

|
New Orleans streetcars, such as the one pictured above, are about to be outsourced to a private French company. (Photo: NYT) The Wall Street Journal reports today on the growing number of cities around the country that are in talks to outsource local transit systems to cope with the budgetary pressures of the recession. New […]