Letter to the editor: Sell more monthly RTA passes to locals by lowering price

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By Tracy A. Buccino

(image via norta.com)

(image via norta.com)

In response to Mr. Courreges’ recent piece regarding NORTA fare increases (“Necessary or not, RTA fare hike makes New Orleans two bits closer to unaffordable“), I suggest that one way to increase revenue without socking it to the poor, elderly, and others with no alternative would be to increase the single-ticket price while keeping the monthly-pass price the same or perhaps even lowering it. I would also suggest offering discounted monthly passes for the same categories (and perhaps others) that are currently offered for the single fares.

In some other U.S. cities and in many parts of Europe, the single fares are pretty steep but the monthly passes are a good deal. (This not only makes things cheaper and easier for those who rely solely on public transportation, it encourages those who have a choice to go ahead and buy a pass and then use it more often instead of driving.) By way of comparison, a single ticket in New Orleans is only $1.25 but the monthly pass is $55, i.e. you would have to ride more than 44 times (22 roundtrips) per month, to make a pass worthwhile. In San Francisco, for example, a single fare is $2, but the monthly pass is $66. Thus, buying a pass makes sense if you make more than 15 roundtrips per month. And in the German university town of Tuebingen, a single ticket is 2,60 Euro (almost $3) but a monthly pass is only 42,80 Euros (approximately $58), meaning it is worth it to get a pass after just 10 roundtrips!

And for those who might have difficulty coming up with $50 or $60 all at once, perhaps discounted 1-week or 2-week passes, would be an appropriate compromise. Right now, NORTA offers 1-day passes for $3 and 3-day passes for $9. These are fantastic prices for tourists but don’t do much to help locals.

Tracy Buccino is a resident of the Bouligny neighborhood of Uptown New Orleans.

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7 thoughts on “Letter to the editor: Sell more monthly RTA passes to locals by lowering price

  1. First off, at least make the monthly passes more available.

    A handful of stores carry a very limited number of monthly passes and once they’re gone, they’re gone. Why the quota? Why can’t you buy them at the ticket machines or on the buses?

    In NYC, you can walk into any subway station and buy any type of pass you want. Here, the RTA machines will only let you buy the 1 or 3 day passes. It’s like the RTA doesn’t want you to know about them. What gives?

  2. This is definitely something to consider. Restricting any fare increase to single fares and passes of three days or less (keeping the monthly pass price the same) would be a good compromise here. I doubt the loss in potential monthly pass revenue would make that big a difference to the budget, and it would help the poor avoid the increase. However, I still wouldn’t support more than a 25 cent increase in one-way fares at this time.

  3. They need to do exactly that with the stupidly named Jazzy Pass, make it a refillable Oyster Card (like London) or Breeze Card (like Atlanta’s MARTA) and affix a tap in reader to the buses and streetcars so that people move onto transport quicker.

  4. What about a fare card you could load up with as much money as you wanted like the DC Metro? How many people (i.e. Tourists) go home with more on the card than they actually used? In the meantime, residents don’t have to scrounge for $1.25 each time and the purchase of the cars is a revenue stream in itself.

  5. RRod3,

    I agree completely. During law school I used the monthly passes for about a year, and it was always difficult to remember to grab one because so few locations offered them. I’m not sure what the reason is.

  6. TB-
    This is a precise positive suggestion and a damn good idea.
    Please let us know if and how we can help, as I fear most policy has more to do with out of town “experts” than those who rely of RTA.

    Example: the Freret Street Bus that now ends at Union Station, not Canal St. like it had for X (40++?) years.
    Riders now have to get off, pay for transfer, and wait for a Street Car -RTA claims they have all timed out, so there is only a short wait… Sure sounds great on paper- but sure as hell NOT TRUE for those forced to add and extra 20++ min each way to do get where it used to-
    My suggestion-fix to return the Freret Jet it to re-route- still have it stop at at Union Station, but then have it cut up Girod around the Dome, or loop around City Hall and end back where it used to.
    Best from Freret,
    Andy

  7. Excellent ideas, both in the original posting and the comments. My student son uses the monthly pass, and I do not mind paying a little extra on those rare occasions that I take public transportation.
    However, ever since the original article appeared, I have been tracking the accuracy of the real time tracker and it’s not working very well on the 55. It appears one of the tracking units is stuck at the bus barn, whether it is still attached to a bus or not, and ghost busses appear at random times. We need a tech upgrade and we need to use the tech we have properly. The RTA needs a total overhaul, which should have been done when the majority of the fleet was offline after Kat.

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