New Orleans Weighs Regional Transit Plan

A new proposal would improve wait times for area buses and bring more households within walking distance to transit stops.

February 26, 2021, 6:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Multi-Modalism in New Orleans

Peek Creative Collective / Shutterstock

The board of the Regional Transit Authority (RTA), the agency that operates public transit in New Orleans and surrounding areas, is considering a "significant revamp to the region's public transportation network" to shorten wait times and provide more effective service for commuters. The New Links proposal, writes Jessica Williams for, "hopes to strengthen interparish connections" and "get more riders to jobs in the region within 20 minutes."

Developed by the New Orleans Regional Planning Commission, the plan "recommends shifts to more than 40 bus and streetcar routes in the two parishes" to resolve slow arrivals, shorten headways to 15 or 20 minutes, and bring more households within half a mile of a transit stop. It also proposes a new transit hub on the vacant site of the former Lake Forest Plaza shopping mall.

The RTA was created in 1979 "to bridge gaps between Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard and St. Tammany parishes," writes Williams, but "parish participation has always been optional, and only Orleans Parish and the city of Kenner signed up."

Funding for the project will be a chief concern, but the agency hopes to raise enough to make a significant impact for residents. "Under an '80% funded' scenario, 36% of residents would see a bus every 20 minutes," a significant improvement over current wait times, which can be 40 minutes or longer.

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