Bus riders on the West Bank and in New Orleans East might have more transit options this fall, if the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority approves a series of potential service enhancements.
Announced July 23 during the RTA’s monthly board meeting, possible service changes include adding an additional bus during peak periods to the 114 and 115 General De Gaulle lines in Algiers, and running the 64 and 65 lines in New Orleans East every 30 minutes.
The 63 New Orleans East Owl bus, which currently provides late-night and early-morning service beginning at 3 a.m., would also roll every 30 minutes instead of hourly.
The Algiers Point-Canal Street ferry service would extend its 6 a.m. weekday start time to the weekends.
If approved, the changes would begin September 1, at the same time the RTA regains public control of the transit network, which has operated for more than a decade under the private company Transdev. That company won a contract to run the agency after Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures crippled the network’s fleet. Beginning in September, it will play a limited role in running the RTA.
Residents have demanded route enhancements to the East and West Bank for several years.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s Forward Together transition plan, assembled before she took office in May 2018, also recommended extending those lines, and transit advocacy group RIDE New Orleans made “providing equitable transit to underserved areas like New Orleans East and Algiers” one of its key recommendations for the RTA’s 20-year strategic mobility plan, which the agency began in 2017 as a road map for the city’s transit future. That plan will be folded into a regional systemwide plan called New Links; started in early 2019, it is expected to be completed in December.
RIDE’s 2018 State of Transit report notes that 65 percent of New Orleans households can reach a hospital within 30 minutes or less using public transit, but that those encouraging numbers “mask specific challenges to be overcome such as inequitable access to healthcare in generally underserved areas” like New Orleans East and Algiers.