RTA awarded $18.5M in USDOT funding for new transit hubs and modern fare technology systems

Today, the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) announced the award of $18,500,000 from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability & Equity (RAISE) Grant. The agency intends to utilize the funding to deliver a suite of public transit improvements including the design and construction of two new neighborhood transit hubs and a fare technology system that will integrate mobile, tap card, credit card, and modern payment technologies. 

 “Thank you to our federal partners for this funding which will dramatically help the RTA improve important conveniences for our ridership like modern fare payment options and shelter in the extreme weather conditions,” said Flozell Daniels, Jr., RTA Board Chair. “Today’s announcement exemplifies RTA’s commitment to investing in our community, our riders, and the city of New Orleans and our expanded capacity to pursue and manage significant infrastructure dollars.” 

 “The awarding of this grant aligns with the City’s goal of improving quality of life for our residents and enhancing city services,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “This grant will allow RTA to make significant strides in furthering the New Links plan—making access to transportation for Greater New Orleans residents more reliable, safe, and equitable. The City of New Orleans has demonstrated time and time again that we are well-equipped to activate the federal resources flowing to our city, and no city is better prepared to put this funding to use than New Orleans.”

 “The 18.5M in funding awarded today will help the RTA adopt the important innovations in the transit industry related to fare technology which will dramatically improve the ability of our riders to access our system, speed boarding, and keep our vehicles running on time, said Alex Z. Wiggins, RTA CEO.  “A huge thank you to our partners at the local, state, and federal level for seeing our vision and helping us to make it a reality.” 

 The funding will help RTA to actualize enhancing rider amenities through upgrades to fare technology across all modes with the installation of fare boxes on buses, streetcars, and ferries, adding additional ticket vending machines in high rider areas, and introducing cashless fare collection options for riders. The new neighborhood transfer hubs will include large shelters, pedestrian safety improvements, and driver comfort stations that will enhance transit service. The RTA Board of Commissioners adopted the New Links recommendations in early 2021. The agency, a lead partner in the New Links network redesign, has been working on developing a timeline for full implementation that extends into 2023. New Links aims at providing better connectivity throughout the region and improved rider amenities within the current system. 

 The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) published a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) to apply for $1 billion in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 discretionary grant funding through the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grants. RAISE, formerly known as BUILD and TIGER, has awarded over $8.9 billion in grants to projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico since 2009. Projects for RAISE funding were evaluated based on merit criteria that include safety, environmental sustainability, quality of life, economic competitiveness, state of good repair, innovation, and partnership. Within these criteria, the Department prioritized projects that can demonstrate improvements to racial equity, reduce impacts of climate change and create good-paying jobs.