Public Involvement Plan
Citizens Influence Transportation Decision-Making
A Letter from the Executive Director
Thank you to all who participated in our transportation and public participation survey as well as those who individually took the time to provide comments and suggestions to inform the development of our region’s Long Range Transportation Plan and Public Involvement Plan. The Regional Planning Commission received over 400 responses to the survey, which came through both our website and active solicitation at neighborhood community meetings in traditionally underserved areas. Survey responses as well as individual comments were taken into consideration, and many have been incorporated into our transportation plans and programs. Some of the comments that RPC received fall outside the jurisdiction of the RPC and, therefore, our agency is unable to dedicate its resources to address the problem. However, RPC believes that these comments are important and has forwarded them along to the responsible agencies.
The top priority expressed by most citizens was repairing roads and streets both for drivers and cyclists. Improving and adding infrastructure for the safety of pedestrians and cyclists – such as new sidewalks, dedicated bicycle lanes and pedestrian signals at intersections also ranked highly. Additionally, the need for improvements to our public transportation system was a prevailing theme with reliability, connectivity and the need for more and better transit facilities repeatedly mentioned. A summary of survey response as well as individual comments and RPC’s responses are available in the report Equitable Inclusion in the Transportation Planning Process. As previously mentioned, some of the comments and suggestions we received pertained to the operations and facilities under the purview of the Regional Transit Authority. As such, RPC passed these comments along to RTA for review and comment.
Below are specific actions and/or projects that RPC is undertaking as a direct result of the input received from citizens. In addition, we have included RTA’s responses pertaining to comments about transit. As you can see, the RPC takes input from all constituencies – including citizens – seriously in the development of our transportation plans and programming of funds. Once again, thank you for taking the time to express your opinions and make our region a better place.
Public Involvement Plan, Update 2010
The Public Involvement Plan Update 2010 describes the Regional Planning Commission’s goals, objectives and strategies for engaging the public in the transportation planning process as well as identifies outreach techniques and the channels of communication the organization utilizes. The plan also provides information about how the decision-making process works and the actions RPC takes to ensure equitable inclusion in the transportation planning process.
Equitable Inclusion in the Transportation Planning Process: Outreach to Low-Income, Minority, and Limited English Proficient Populations, July 2010
Environmental justice is a key component of a fair and effective transportation plan. Both the distribution of resources and the impact of development decisions on minority and economically disadvantaged citizens must be considered during the transportation planning process. To gain a greater understanding of the needs and challenges associated with mobility that face our region’s low-income and minority communities, the RPC initiated an intensive outreach program to garner input from these traditionally underserved populations.
The methodology for identifying target populations and a summary of what RPC heard from its community outreach efforts are documented in the report, Equitable Inclusion in the Transportation Process. Information gathered from this outreach exercise informed the development and refinement of several key documents that guide RPC’s transportation planning processes, including: the Long Range Transportation Plans (also referred to as the Metropolitan Transportation Plans, Transportation Improvement Programs, and the Public Involvement Plan.
How the Public Influenced Transportation Plans in the Greater New Orleans region
Repairing roads and streets was ranked at the very top of the needs list by all neighborhoods. Funding has been secured for the following community-based improvements.
- Galvez Street (Jordan to Delery) – current City DPW Recovery Project.
- Elysian Fields (Lakeshore Dr. to Gentilly) – approved for Submerged Roads Program Part A.
- Franklin Ave. (I-610 to St. Claude) – approved for Submerged Roads Program Part A.
- Franklin Ave. (Filmore to Gentilly) – approved for Submerged Roads Program Part B.
- Morrison Rd. (Lamb to Mayo) – approved for Submerged Roads Program Part B.
- Mayo Rd. (Hayne to I-10) – approved for Submerged Roads Program Part B.
- St. Bernard Ave. (Filmore to R.E. Lee) – current City DPW Recovery Project.
Other specific streets identified by the community included Pauline Dr. in Pontchartrain Park and Old Behrman Highway in Algiers. These routes are off the federal-aid network and, therefore, have been forwarded to City DPW for evaluation.
Traffic Safety and Operations
A number of streets and intersections were identified for potential traffic safety and operational improvements. In response to this request, the RPC will initiate traffic studies at several locations, including Franklin @ St. Claude; Rampart @ St. Claude; and S. Claiborne @ M.L. King.
Several roadways were also identified as in need of traffic safety and pedestrian enhancements. These requests included: St. Bernard Avenue @ Caton Street; Leake Avenue (Oak Street to Magazine Street); Carrollton Avenue (Claiborne to Tulane Avenue); Tchoupitoulas Street (Henry Clay to Felicity); and Convention Center Boulevard (Henderson Street to Poydras Street). Working in cooperation with the City Department of Public Works, Feasibility Studies will be undertaken during 2010-2011 to evaluate traffic conditions at these locations and to develop traffic calming, pedestrian safety, and traffic management improvements.
I-10/Claiborne Avenue Corridor
Numerous civic and community organizations, including the City of New Orleans, have expressed an interest in examining the transportation, economic, and community impacts (both positive and negative) of removing the elevated section of I-10 through downtown New Orleans and replacing it with a boulevard type of facility with some traffic diversion to other arterials. The City has applied for a HUD Challenge Grant to revitalize the Claiborne Avenue corridor and adjacent neighborhood communities. Part of this work will entail a cooperative work effort with the RPC and LADOTD to undertake the initial Feasibility Study, including traffic data collection, transportation modeling and analysis.
Numerous suggestions were offered for improving the regional transit system. These key ideas have been shared with the Regional Transit Authority. Please see below for RTA’s response.
- Restrict size of vehicles (buses and trucks) operating on Magazine (replace with smaller vehicles)
RTA has been operating mid-size buses (35 feet) on this line. However, these buses are overcrowded at commute times. In July 2010, RTA elected to add forty feet buses to ensure that overcrowding is not an issue on weekdays. On weekends because demand is lower, RTA uses mid-size buses. Switching vehicles to match demand is not economical since it requires an operator to drive back to the yard.
- Add new transit routes: old City Park Route on Orleans Ave.; Jefferson Davis to Uptown
RTA adopted performance standards and criteria for establishing service in May 2010. The Line 46 – Orleans was the “old City Park route”. RTA will consider this request as part of its service planning process.
- Extend Airport Bus Route to go down Canal from Loyola and up Poydras to connect with most other bus lines w/transfers; also better luggage accommodations
Jefferson Area Transit (JeT) operates this line and RTA and RPC will forward this comment to JeT to consider.
- Encourage students to use public transportation (id. and cater to high school schedules; provide discounted fares).
Where feasible, RTA designs service to meet school times. RTA has met with both the Charter School Association and School District in Orleans Parish to review ways we can work together.
- Extend Streetcar lines thru French Quarter into Marigny and Bywater
RTA is committed to extending the streetcar to Press Street along St. Claude Avenue but it is not feasible to cross the Norfolk –Southern railroad tracks at this time without separating streetcar and railroad traffic.
- Need Desire and Galvez buses reinstated in upper Ninth Ward area, residents are walking more than a mile to catch bus
The Upper 9th Ward is served by the Galvez, Louisa and the Lower 9th Lil’ Easy service. The RTRA Board would like to increase service in this area.
- Extend Streetcar line from uptown to mid-city maybe on Napoleon or Broad
RTA is working to extend the streetcar in areas that can support ridership and economic development. There are no plans at present to extend a streetcar line on Napoleon or Broad.
- Extend bus service to parish line
RTA’s Board would like to work with other transit providers to review how service can be better integrated and enable people to make regional trips on transit more easily.
- Reinstate “One Card” transit pass system between RTA and Jet Transit
RTA is working with JeT to reintroduce a regional day pass.
- Install GPS Tracking of buses with passenger info at bus stops
RTA is planning to implement real time transit information at bus and streetcar stop over the next 12 months. Different technology applications are being tested now.
- Need on-time bus and streetcar service
RTA’s on-time performance is improving and is currently 88% on time at all major stops. RTA is implementing real-time tracking of buses and streetcars.
- Publish bus and streetcar schedules at stops using ITS/Passenger Info system
This is an important strategy for making it easier for riders and new customers. RTA plans to implement timetables at major stops over the next 12 months.
- Establish user friendly transit web-based info system for bus and streetcar info and trip planning
RTA is updating its bus stop database, which will lead to an improved trip planner. We are also planning to add Google as a trip planner application.
- Need transit drivers to be more courteous
RTA continuously monitors its drivers and recently implemented a new customer service program for all employees. This will be followed up by tracking our performance through a customer satisfaction survey later this year.
- Bring back Express Bus service during peak periods
This request will be considered as part of RTA’s service planning process. Express bus service was operated for one month prior to Hurricane Katrina. At this time, express time cannot be afforded while basic frequency improvements are needed.
- After mid-nite, service industry workers wait one or more hours for public transportation
Late night service is a problem for a city where people work 24/7. We are working with the Regional Planning Commission and Downtown Development District to survey employees to determine the best transit fit and programs over the next 9 months.
- Need complete Transit Map with bus and streetcar routes made more available (all over city)
A system map will be placed each bus shelter by the end of September 2010. A system map brochure is under development.
- Improve Bus Service in East New Orleans
Ridership is recovering in New Orleans east and the RTA is evaluating how to best improve service.
- Elysian Fields bus does not run on time and not often enough
The Elysian Fields line runs every 40 minutes weekdays and 60 minutes weekends. This request will be evaluated as part of RTA’s service evaluation process.
- Need Bus Shelters
Over the last year, RTA has installed 150 bus shelters. RTA plans to add another 80 shelters over the next 6 months.
- Need Safe Cross Walks at Schools
Crossing streets safely is important for all pedestrians including bus riders. RTA is working with other public agencies to improve pedestrian safety.
- Place a DMV Office in downtown N.O. easily accessible by public transit
Locating public facilities in places that are accessible by public transit is important. Currently, the Algiers DMV is accessible by the General DeGaulle line.
- Complete bus/streetcar transfer station at Canal Blvd.
RTA is committed to completing this facility. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is requiring RTA to prepare further environmental documentation. A new site plan will released for public review as part of this process.
- Need new bus shelter at Miro and St. Bernard and at Tchoupitoulas @ Walnut
RTA will evaluate these requests. Shelters are located at high ridership stops, transfer points, public facilities or to support special community needs.
- Need Bus and Streetcar Shelters – current system is very weather dependent
Please see the response to comment 20.
- Need sidewalks and bus shelters so people don’t have to wait for buses in streets
Please see the response to comment 20 and 21.
- Make Bus Routes Safer
Safety of passengers is RTA most important responsibility. We work with other public agencies to ensure safe places for people for wait and ensure our drivers operate their vehicles safely.
- Encourage use of battery/electric buses
RTA has invested in new bio-diesel fueled buses and the new generation of hybrid-diesel articulated buses. Streetcar are also operated using electrical power.
- Provide for bike racks/access on streetcars
Because streetcars make frequent stops, installing bike racks would be problematic for maintaining on-time performance. Each St. Charles streetcar is designated as a Federal historical monument and adding a bike rack would not be allowed. Adding additional bike facilities at major bus stops and streetcar stops is worth evaluating with the Regional Planning Commission.