Skip to Content
Streetsblog USA home
Streetsblog USA home
Log In
Streetsblog.net

9 Years After Katrina, New Orleans Transit Still Struggling to Recover

11:37 AM EDT on July 28, 2014

Image: Ride New Orleans
The frequency and coverage of New Orleans transit service is nowhere close to pre-Katrina levels. Maps: Ride New Orleans
false

Next month will mark nine years since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, flooding nearly 80 percent of the city. In the wake of disaster, the city has demonstrated remarkable resilience. Its population has rebounded to about 86 percent of where it stood before the flooding.

But a new report from transit advocacy group Ride New Orleans [PDF] shows the city's transit system is nowhere near its pre-Hurricane strength. Evan Landman at Human Transit shares the details:

Some key points from the report:

  • In 2004, RTA's peak fleet was 301 buses. By 2012, that number had dropped to just 79.
  • Revenue hours declined from over 1 million prior to the storm to fewer than 600,000 in 2012.
  • By 2012, only 36% of the pre-storm daily trips had been restored.
  • In 2012, no bus routes in the entire system operated at 15 minute or better frequency, down from 12 previously.
  • Meanwhile, overall service level on the city's historic streetcar routes declined by only 9%, and the number of available vehicles (66) is the same today as in 2005.

What accounts for the difference between the relatively robust network of 2005 and today's service offering? Obviously no transit agency would have an easy time recovering from the damage done to its vehicles and operational infrastructure by a catastrophic event like Katrina. It would be ludicrous to suggest otherwise. But nearly a decade on, something has prevented RTA from ramping back up to its prior service level.

Ride's analysis points to a number of factors. First is a decline in fare revenues, attributable both to the smaller population of the city since the storm, the diminished service offering, and a base fare of just $1.25 which hasn't increased since 1999. Second, since the storm, RTA's operating costs have increased dramatically, to around $168/revenue hour. This is much higher than many peer agencies, and as such limits the amount of service RTA is able to deploy with its current resources. The report also raises questions about the agency's decision to prioritize the restoration of the historic streetcar system.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Biking Toronto says cyclists are really enjoying the city's brand new protected bike lanes. FABB celebrates the opening today of D.C.'s Silver Line. And Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space writes that Richmond, Virginia's transit system is increasingly inadequate, but city-county politics present a threat to expansion.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog USA

NYC Debuts Public E-Bike Charging for Delivery Workers

Finally, they’re taking charge! The city’s first public e-bike charging station opened in Cooper Square on Thursday — the start of an overdue six-month pilot that is part of a “Charge Safe Ride Safe Action Plan” for delivery workers that Mayor Adams announced last year.

March 1, 2024

Friday’s Headlines Have Questions

What's an optimal rebate to get people to buy e-bikes without wasting money on those who were going to buy one anyway?

March 1, 2024

To Recruit Transit Workers, More Than Just Higher Pay Is Needed

Labor shortages continue threatening public transit systems, and a new report adds another layer to the conversation.

February 29, 2024

Talking Headways Podcast: Streets for Skateboards

Aaron Breetwor on skateboards for transportation and designing streets for safer skateboarding.

February 29, 2024

Agencies Need to Use Federal Funding to Buy Land for Transit Oriented Development

Transit agencies do not prioritize transit-adjacent housing development often because they lack funding to acquire land.

February 29, 2024
See all posts