Ride New Orleans (RIDE) announced that City Council moved forward with allocating $2.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) for a one-year pilot program to offer free transit fares for youth and opportunity youth (OY) up to 24 years old, according to its news release.
What the Pilot Program in New Orleans Will Provide
This one-year pilot program will provide data to help the city and RTA evaluate how zero fares can benefit New Orleans youth.
RIDE said it believes it will make the case for the city to identify funding for a long-term program.
Commitment to the Pilot Program
RIDE added that it is asking that all involved commit to the following:
- Implementation of this pilot program should not be rushed. It encourages the RTA, city, and other partners to carefully consider the structure and timeline for this program.
- The pilot should be tailored to meet the needs of transit-riding youth/OY, and the city and RTA should commit to youth outreach and engagement when rolling out the program.
- Funding zero fares long-term cannot be the responsibility of the RTA. If this program is to continue beyond the one-year pilot stage, the city must commit to finding sustainable funding for the program.
“Change is hard, but it is essential,” says council VP Helena N. Moreno. “Creating this pilot program to provide equitable transit opportunities for our young people – whether it’s to get to school, to a job, or to take care of life’s essentials, we need to give our kids the best chance to succeed. And accessible transit is a critical component. I agree with these recommendations from RIDE to move forward responsibly and look forward to working with the advocates, RTA and other stakeholders to design a program that works for all.”