On Tuesday April 18 the New Orleans Hospitality Workers Committee sent 4 representatives to meet with several RTA officials about the bad transportation service that so many hospitality workers and New Orleans East residents have to rely on. Among the officials that we met with were the Head of Public Information, the Director of Operations, the Chief Operating Officer, and the Chief Strategy Officer. It was clear that these officials came into the meeting thinking that we would passively let them talk down to us about how much we don't know about public transit in our city. From the outset, we made it clear that not only do we know as much as we need to, but that we also only wanted to discuss the concrete ways that the RTA is solving this transportation problem.
Despite their repeated efforts to shift the goalposts of the discussion and to blame other entities besides themselves for the bad situation, they did admit that the situation needs improvement for riders living in The East and Algiers. They also admitted that they can get money for tourist projects like the airport improvement and the Ramparts street car. They say that they're monitoring the situation, but it only takes a little communication with the late-night riders to understand that the situation is unacceptable. They did report that they are in the early stages of developing a shuttle-like system for workers downtown, but they think that improvement can wait a year while they go through their bureaucratic channels.
In the end, they agreed to 4 things:
1.) To come with us to physically experience the hardship of walking 25+ minutes to a bus stop only to have to wait another hour for your 2-hour long bus ride to arrive.
2.) To incorporate hospitality workers in the process of getting this shuttle system for NO East and Algiers riders.
3.) To review the results of the hundreds of surveys that we've conducted with riders.
4.) To send us the reports that they did when they we're originally developing the inadequate system that exists today.
These are all small measures, and we are not satisfied or optimistic that any improvement will happen unless workers and residents strongly pressure them to act. The need for much better service is very real, and we will continue to organize around it no matter what pretty words these officials utter.
Join us at City Hall at 10 am on April 25th to voice our dissatisfaction and our demand for improvement to the City's Transportation Committee. Our demands are:
1.) We need buses that come every fifteen minutes day and night.
2.) We need more routes and for these routes to be geographically expanded. Stop consolidating the routes at night.
3.) We need more bus stops in the downtown area or free shuttle services so that people do not have to walk a long distance, take a taxi, or have to get rides from friends and family.
4.) We need a response time for when you will get back to us with a revised strategic plan that meets the needs of hospitality workers.
New Orleans Hospitality Workers Committee