RTA fare increase should be tied to improvements, group says

As New Orleans' Regional Transit Authority considers fare increases, a local non-profit wants to make sure riders get the best bang for their buck.

Ride New Orleans has released what it calls the first comprehensive study of the transit system since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

The group says the current system is unsustainable and will bring the RTA to the end of its operating reserve funds by 2015.

Their report relies on RTA's self-reported data from 2005 to 2012. Ride New Orleans' three main findings are: the city's population recovery has far outpaced transit service restoration; areas that need public transit the most have seen the greatest declines in service; and the high cost and low revenue is jeopardizing RTA viability.

"We want to see, with any fare increase talk, a commitment from the RTA to restore service and do so in a way that both allows for system expansions, that people are getting more for their investment in public transportation, but that also sets the agency up for a sound future and is done in a comprehensive manner," said Ride New Orleans Executive Director Rachel Heiligman.

Heiligman said while 77 percent of the streetcar routes have been restored, only 29 percent of weekly bus routes have returned.

An RTA spokesperson said the agency hasn't seen the report and therefore can't comment on the findings.

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