By Claire Byun
New Orleans Regional Transit Authority staff are working on a 20-year strategic mobility plan to integrate and improve public transportation, but officials are seeking input from the community first and foremost.
The plan, which is being developed by the Regional Transit Authority, is meant to “establish the vision, goals and roadmap for public transportation in the city and region” for the next two decades. There are five planned phases before the final plan is submitted in December, and the first centers around community conversations.
Vivek Shah, transportation planner Transdev, the private operating partner of the RTA, answered questions about the plan from members of the Faubourg St. John Neighborhood Association at their meeting Tuesday. Shah said the first step involves understanding the needs of New Orleans residents and what they think should be included in the scheme.
“We’re not going to get into the nitty-gritty details right now,” Shah said. “We’re looking at a lot more general regionwide and citywide transportation issues, which will help in the short term.”
The process includes feedback from the general public, stakeholder groups and passengers, Shah said. The plan is part of the RTA’s “larger commitment” to equity and access, as well as customer service and performance.
After a series of public meetings – Shah and his teammates are scheduled to present at a slew of other neighborhood meetings – officials move to the “Exploring Opportunities” stage. The second phase includes assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the system, sharing info on emerging technology and understanding current mobility demands.
Shah said the future of transportation looks a little different from the traditional streetcar and bus ferry.
“A lot has changed in the 11 years since Katrina, and this is to really develop a community source, a 20-year vision,” he said.
The third step, “Visioning,” updates RTA’s mission, vision and goals; it also identifies strategies to achieve those goals and ways to measure progress. “Evaluating Options” is the fourth step, where officials look over different mobility strategies and assess opportunities.
The final step drafts a proposed plan for a “sustainable, equitable and vibrant New Orleans region” by December.
RTA is asking for public input either in person, over email or via an online survey. To sign your neighborhood association up for a presentation, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text 504-228-2626.