Today, the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) announced the appointment of Mark Raymond Jr. as Chair of the Board of Commissioners following a special board meeting. At the meeting, the Commissioners unanimously voted Commissioner Raymond as Chair, and they voted Arthur Walton as Vice Chair and Chair of the Finance Committee. Raymond is a disability advocate and founder of the Split-Second Foundation, an organization committed to breaking barriers for people with disabilities and operates the first fitness facility in Louisiana dedicated to people living with paralysis, stroke, or amputation. Raymond succeeds Flozell Daniels, who served as chair on the board for the last four of his 11 years on the Board of Commissioners.
“Commissioner Raymond is a proven, solutions-oriented leader with a deep commitment to improving the lives of underserved and disabled communities,” said Alex Z. Wiggins, RTA CEO. “He brings vision, dedication, and experience to the board, and I am excited to continue working together to build a world-class transit system that remains equitable and inclusive.”
“A strong transit system makes communities better places to live, work, study, and play. On the day of this announcement, I send my sincere congratulations to the new Board Chairman, Mark Raymond, and I look forward to working with him to ensure that RTA is well-supported and funded from the federal level,” said Congressman Troy Carter, Louisiana.
“Mark has been a consistent voice and advocate for vulnerable road users and those dependent on transit services. One of my earliest memories of his advocacy and leadership is his support of bicycle lanes adjacent to City Park and the expansion of the streetcar line. I look forward to his leadership and leveraging the resources of the USDOT,” said Secretary Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D., Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.
“The RTA is a vital part of New Orleans’ infrastructure, with tens of thousands of our citizens relying on it to get around the city efficiently and effectively, and I can think of no one better to lead the RTA Board of Commissioners than Mark Raymond,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell, City of New Orleans. “With years of experience in leadership and working with people living with disabilities, Mark not only knows the importance that a public transit system brings to a world-class city like New Orleans but how public transportation is a crucial part of our fight against the climate crisis.”
Raymond was nominated by New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell and approved by RTA’s Board of Commissioners on Friday, August 5. In his previous roles as Vice-Chair of the board and Chairman of the Finance Committee, the RTA introduced the first two Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant streetcars on the historic St. Charles Streetcar Line, upgraded the paratransit fleet by replacing 21 vehicles that were past their useful life, received federal grant funding for the MOVE Pilot—an on-demand paratransit service and initiated an agency-wide ADA transit system assessment. RTA is also implementing a complete redesign of its bus network, improving access and service quality for transit-riding populations, and connecting more people to jobs, healthcare, and other essential services.
“It is an honor to receive this appointment as board chair. I have dedicated my adult life to raising awareness and being a voice for people with disabilities. As a wheel-chair-bound individual, I understand firsthand the lack of accessibility within our society. I applaud RTA for taking the necessary steps to ensure people within our most vulnerable populations have more support and tools they need to make their lives a little bit easier. I look forward to continuing to build a world-class transit system with accessibility for all transit riders, especially those who need an additional voice in the room where decisions are made,” said Mark Raymond Jr., Chair, RTA Board of Commissioners.
“It was a privilege to serve alongside Mark the past four years on the board. He has been a strong advocate for many of our transit riders. I know he’s well-equipped to fulfill the role as chair and to lead the board and will be instrumental in advocating for equitable public transportation policies, funding, and innovation,” said Flozell Daniels, Immediate Past Chair, RTA Board of Commissioners.
Raymond also serves on the New Orleans City Council Street Renaming Commission, an advisory committee recommending renaming streets, parks, and public places that honored white supremacists. Most notably, the commission renamed Jefferson Davis Parkway after Norman C. Francis, the longtime president of Xavier University and a civil rights pioneer who was instrumental in supporting the Freedom Rides. Raymond also serves on the Louisiana Governor’s Advisory Council on Disability Affairs.
“Congratulations to Mark Raymond Jr. and to the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) on the selection of Mr. Raymond as the Chair of the RTA Board. Mark Raymond has shown through his actions his commitment to enhancing the quality of life for the citizens of our City. He understands the importance of access by citizens to both public and private resources. As Chairman of the New Orleans City Council’s Transportation Committee, I look forward to working with Mr. Raymond and the RTA to enhance the quality of and accessibility to transportation options for our citizens,” said New Orleans Councilmember Eugene Green, District D, Transportation Committee Chair.
The RTA is governed by its Board of Commissioners which is composed of eight publicly appointed representatives and determines agency policy, oversees the funding, operation, and expansion of public transportation in the City. Five representatives are appointed by the Mayor New Orleans, and three representatives are appointed by the President of Jefferson Parish.