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Message from the RTA Chairwoman 4-12

Message from the Chairwoman of the RTA

Message from the Chairwoman of the RTA

As I write this first of many reports the RTA will be providing to citizens of this great city, I am thrilled to reintroduce an agency familiar to all who live in and visit New Orleans. Many of us grew up riding the buses and streetcars of one of the greatest transit systems in America and we continue to depend on this system either as our sole source of transportation, when out and about on the town, or as an affordable and environmentally conscious choice to replace our personal vehicles. Whichever rider profile you fit, the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) values and appreciates the choices you make to entrust your travel to us. The RTA in New Orleans has undergone an amazing renaissance in recent years and has overcome enormous challenges in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, challenges never before faced by any transit system in history. Through this process the RTA has emerged as a renewed organization.

The agency’s first commitment has always been to provide world class transit services to the people of New Orleans. Today the RTA continues that commitment by constantly assessing service to the community and implementing improvements to best meet the transportation needs of everyone who relies on public transit. As we move into the future, RTA is committed to providing smarter, more efficient and innovative transit solutions to residents. Recent improvements include the addition of articulated buses, the installation of bus stops, shelters, and signage systemwide, the release of GPS tracking data, the launch of an interactive website, installation of automated Ticket Vending Machines, installation of pedestrian warning devices on vehicles, and there are many more improvements on the horizon.

RTA transit services connect citizens to employment centers, workers to jobs, and families to critical services. But it does so much more than that in the community. The agency also fills the role of a major economic engine in New Orleans. Through it’s provision of world class transit services the RTA serves a vital role in the development of the city.

This is evidenced by the ongoing rail expansions that are improving access to more areas of the city and have spurred more than $2 Billion dollars in economic development. The improved connectivity into the business centers and neighborhoods in New Orleans is enhancing the lives of all of our residents. These rail projects are a great example of how RTA is making a difference in the lives of citizens every day.

As a major public agency in the city, the RTA spends millions of dollars to ensure that the citizens have safe and reliable transportation. And we believe that every dollar is an opportunity to impact the local economy. RTA recognizes that small businesses are a major part of the local economy and strives to provide parity, equal opportunity, and support to small and disadvantaged businesses. The RTA recently established a Small Business Development Program, which is open to all small businesses regardless of the race and gender of the business owner. This office enhances and supports the efforts of the existing Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Office. In 2011 the RTA spent 26% of federal funds with Disadvantaged Business Enterprises that are owned by minorities and women. On non-federally funded RTA projects the RTA spent 32%. As an economic engine in this region we currently have over $61 million in total contracts awarded with over $18 million (29%) committed to Disadvantaged Businesses Enterprises.

For the Board of Commissioners of the RTA the concept of equity is more than a social or moral issue - it is in fact a strategy for economic growth and development. The notion that there is a tradeoff between economic development and economic equity is wrong and in the end, we hold the belief that policies, practices and strategies that promote and support equity and fairness will not only enhance the products and services that we provide to the community, but also promote economic development and sustainable growth in our city and the region.

I invite you to board one of our buses, paratransit vehicles or streetcars, take a ride through our city, and monitor our progress as we continue to improve for you. To find out more information about the RTA you can visit us online at www.norta.com or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube @NewOrleansRTA

 

Barbara C. Major

Chairwoman

Regional Transit Authority Board of Commissioners

 

Reprinted from letter for Tribune, April 2012

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