New Orleans To Add More All-Night Bus Service

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — More public buses will be rolling around-the-clock in New Orleans, a step toward restoring the level of service that existed before Hurricane Katrina hit and devastated the city's public transportation system.

         The Regional Transit Authority plans to add all-night service on eight routes to ease the commute of employees.

         Transdev, RTA's private management company, estimates the new changes will cost about $4 million a year, a sum the company believes it can cover in its annual $99 million operating budget, according to ' The Times-Picayune’s Richard Rainey.

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         RTA says it will also increase the frequency of buses on 15 routes around the city and establish an airport line to shuttle workers to and from Kenner as construction of a new multi-million-dollar airport terminal gets underway.

         The changes are the latest steps in a balancing act the RTA and Transdev have walked as they try to expand public transportation in New Orleans.

         Devastated by Katrina, the system is trying to meet the demands of riders along popular routes and those in under-served communities, all while enduring lean budget years.

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         Advocates and frustrated riders have criticized the agency over access to public transportation for poor, predominantly African-American neighborhoods.

         "Where the issue has always been, at least since Katrina, is we haven't had the frequencies we always wished we had," Transdev transit planner Stefan Marks said. "And that's a function of budget."

         "It's a great step forward, and we commend them for this," said Alex Posorske, executive director of Ride New Orleans, an advocacy group that uncovered disparities in the transit system two years ago. "More importantly, we need to see continued progress like this."

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