Ride New Orleans, a local advocacy group that promotes affordable transportation options, hosted a "day of action" April 15 to bring awareness to the lack of infrastructure at what the organization has dubbed the "CBD transit hub" — the intersection of Elk Place and Canal Street stretching toward LaSalle Street. Earlier that day, the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) announced it is working with the city to advance plans for a consolidated transit hub in the CBD.
Justin Augustine, the vice president of Veolia Transportation, which services the RTA, attended Ride's day of action and told Gambit he supported the event.
"We've been working on a downtown transit center for a couple of years now," Augustine said. "Whenever we get the community involved saying, 'Yes, we want it, yes we support it,' that's a good thing."
Augustine said the RTA and the city are considering rebuilding the former bus terminal on Basin Street just off Canal Street, though he added any action depends on a collaboration with business owners in the area.
Rachel Heiligman, Ride New Orleans' executive director, said the purpose of the day was "to start a coordinated dialogue between transit riders, community members, business leaders and public officials focused on solutions for improving this critical point in our transit system. I am excited to say that today, we've gotten that conversation off to a strong start," she added. Ride New Orleans put out 200 temporary folding chairs with signs posted on each one that read: "This seat reserved for bus riders."
New Orleans City Council members Susan Guidry, Kristin Gisleson Palmer, LaToya Cantrell and James Gray all showed their support at the rally, along with members of the groups Stand with Dignity and the Amalgamated Transit Union Women of Action.