U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters announced that the FTA has approved $13.6 million for the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (NORTA) to continue providing public transportation without having to put up a local match, thanks to a special emergency federal provision. The agency will also be free of federal regulations that prohibit spending capital funds on operating expenses.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development will also receive $2.1 million in federal funding for the continuation of its LA SWIFT program, which provides bus service from Baton Rouge to New Orleans to residents who were displaced because of Hurricane Katrina.
In June 2006 the U.S. DOT granted NORTA an administrative waiver allowing the agency to use pre-hurricane population data to calculate the amount of federal transit funding it would be eligible for in 2007.
The result of that waiver enables NORTA to receive an amount closer to its usual total based on the FTA's apportionment formula.
The LA SWIFT funding will allow the program to continue while the state continues to explore more permanent funding options.