The New Orleans RTA plans to restore Carrollton Bus Line 90 this fall, which runs from the intersection of South Claiborne through Mid-City and City Park to reach Gentilly, as part of a series of service changes announced as transit advocates question the slow return of bus lines and the agency’s finances.
A map of Line 90 distributed at recent open houses hosted by the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority around the city shows a starting point on South Carrollton at its intersection with South Claiborne. The line makes a straight shot up Carrollton until it hits City Park, then takes Desaix Boulevard to Gentilly Boulevard before ending at Elysian Fields Avenue.
The restored Line 90 will share some of Carrollton Avenue in Mid-City with Line 32 (Leonidas), which starts at Audubon Park and travels up Leonidas Street. The Leonidas line, however, currently ends at City Park, but after the proposed changes, will instead head down Orleans Avenue into Treme and end on Canal Street.
The Carrollton line will run every 30 minutes, and the Leonidas line will run every 60 minutes.
The changes come as part of a citywide set of improvements that is scheduled for final approval Aug. 26, and the changes are scheduled for implementation starting Sept. 21.
They are also coinciding with the release of a major report by the nonprofit transit advocacy group Ride New Orleans that criticizes the slow pace at which bus routes are being restored in the city.
“Our research confirms that by the end of 2012, less than half of the pre-Katrina transit service offered by the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) in 2005 had been restored – although 86% of New Orleans’ population had returned to the city,” according to the report’s executive summary. “These service reductions have been worst in areas where transit service is needed most: low-income neighborhoods, communities of color, and areas where people have less access to personal vehicles.”
The report also draws attention to a dwindling reserve fund that has until now been used to fill a major growing budget deficit at the New Orleans RTA. It also questions the focus on streetcars, which are much more costly and much less flexible than bus routes.
The report acknowledges that fares in New Orleans are lower than other cities, but insists that any fare increase should be accompanied by “a system-wide, long-term plan for sustainably and efficiently increasing the level of transit service available to our citizens.” Houston, for example, reimagined its bus routes to provide service every 15 minutes for 73 percent of its riders, the report states.
Veolia Transportation, which is contracted to manage the RTA, has created a $3.5 billion wish list for improvements that would spend $90 million to replace the fleet’s 136 buses and add 51 more, according to a report by Richard Rainey of The Times-Picayune. It would also spend hundreds of millions of dollars on new streetcar lines on St. Claude Avenue, Elysian Fields, South Carrollton, Loyola Avenue and Poydras Street .