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STEM Essential Component of RTA Operations

When one operates a system of buses, streetcars, and ferries that transport hundreds of thousands of people a day around New Orleans, one learns to appreciate a STEM – or Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics — education. STEM Day, on May 16 this year, celebrated the benefits of STEM-influenced curriculums as well as careers in the four major fields.

The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority has a large group of mechanics, technicians, inspectors, and engineers working day and night on the city’s mass transit vehicles.

“I love working with the buses,” Inspector Donald Morgan says. “I’ve been doing it for 36 years, and there is always something interesting when working with such complex vehicles.”

Morgan, for a brief time after Hurricane Katrina, worked on a project to rewire streetcar lines damaged in the storm. Though he enjoyed working on the streetcars, he mentions his first passion are the RTA buses.

The first RTA buses rolled out in 1983 as companions to the historic streetcars. In the years since, the RTA has moved to using Biodiesel as a green alternative to fossil fuels as well as experimenting with self-driving buses.

“When I came to the RTA, I wanted to work on buses,” Superintendent of Bus Maintenance, Frank Jones, states. “The troubleshooting, it’s all very challenging. Every day is different, nothing is the same.”

Aside from the buses, the streetcars of New Orleans are essential modes of transport that are both practical and historic. Horse-drawn streetcars in New Orleans go back to the early nineteenth century with the famous electric streetcar lines along St. Charles and Carrollton Avenues going up in 1893.

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