Public Transit In New Orleans Still Recovering Since Hurricane Katrina

Jul 31, 2014

Post-Hurricane Katrina recovery in New Orleans has been a mixed bag. And a new report from the non-profit Ride New Orleans highlights the city’s struggles to recover bus service.

Less than 40 percent of transit service had been restored to the city by 2012, according to the report. And bus lines serving high-need areas like New Orleans East often have wait times of an hour or more.

Those findings were presented in a public panel discussion on Thursday.

Panelist Christof Spieler sits on the board of the transit authority in Houston, Texas. He talked about his experience helping Houston overhaul inefficient bus routes.

“It’s not a question of ‘Is there a bus on this street?’ It’s a question of ‘What level of service is there on this street?’” Spieler says. “We said, let’s take a blank slate approach. Rather than trying to tweak our current routes, let’s ask the question — we know where people live, we know where people work, we know where people are trying to go; what would be the best system to serve that?”

Spieler says the improved systems he set up in Houston helped to shave as much as 40 minutes from a typical commute. He also says the key to reform is having transit agencies working from the field, not from the office.