The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority hosts transit equity forum with Biden Administration officials

Today, the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) hosted a virtual transit equity forum featuring Alex Z. Wiggins, CEO, RTA; Christopher Coes, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy, U.S. Department of Transportation; and Nuria Fernandez, Acting Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration. The forum was moderated by Flozell Daniels, Chairman, RTA Board of Commissioners. The forum discussed the agency’s history of systemic inequities and how the agency intends to partner with the new administration to address these challenges.

“Creating transit equity and addressing lingering institutional racism are critical goals for the RTA Board of Commissioners,” said Flozell Daniels, Jr., RTA Board Chair. “We understand the importance of transit and the role it plays in the viability of families and will always prioritize our riders first as we develop policies, implement service, and innovate to meet the needs of our community.”

Since beginning the process to restore local management of the RTA in 2019, agency leadership has been laser focused on addressing systemic inequity in transit service.  Panelists focused on the history of transit in New Orleans and the future of transit in the city and region, as well as the Biden Administration’s plans to address transit equity nationally.

“As we reflect during Black History Month, the Biden Administration acknowledges that historic federal investment and disinvestment policies have increased racial disparities and cut people off from opportunity,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Coes, “The Administration has made a commitment to address these past harms and build an equitable transportation system, and we commend RTA’s vision and commitment to supporting underserved communities.”

“We greatly appreciate the commitment from RTA and all of our transit providers for providing safe and efficient transportation to everyone during these unprecedented times,” said FTA Acting Administrator Nuria Fernandez. “RTA’s vision to address inequities in the transportation system is particularly relevant during Black History Month and reinforces the Biden Administration’s commitment to equity and advancing support for underserved communities.”

“The RTA aims to set a new national standard in how transit agencies approach transit equity,” said Alex Z. Wiggins, RTA CEO. “By setting aggressive Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) utilization goals, forwarding employment equity through re-entry and development programs, instituting its Race and Social Justice Toolkit, creating better transit options in the West Bank and New Orleans East and as the lead partner in the New Links network redesign, the RTA is aggressively working to create an equitable transit system.  As the RTA looks to implement many of these improvements, the RTA is committed to working with our federal transit partner to ensure new federal policies support local equity goals.”