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The Source for Public Transportation News and Analysis April 22, 2011
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Crescent City Prepares to Serve as 2011 Host
BY JUSTIN T. AUGUSTINE, Vice President, Veolia TransDev, Delegated Manager to Regional Transit Authority in New Orleans

New Orleans is the perfect setting to host APTA’s 2011 International Public Transportation EXPO. I personally invite all of you to come and visit my hometown.

In all my travels and assignments leading transportation agencies around the country and the world, New Orleans has always held a special place in my heart. It is this love and commitment to bringing world-class transit back to this great city that brought me home to lead the efforts to rebuild this transit system.

New Orleans is a city that has clung to its rich history while embracing the future with open arms. It is the only city in the world whose transit system boasts both the oldest operating rail system and one of the newest bus fleets in the country. It’s a place where streetcar craftsmen still maintain a national transit treasure by hand while vehicle mechanics use the latest, most advanced, and environmentally conscious tools and maintenance techniques. 

It is also a place where the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) had the determination to revive transit for the citizens of its decimated city more than five years ago, after Hurricane Katrina devastated the transportation system along with the rest of the city. The leadership team embarked upon a historic public-private delegated management relationship to recreate transportation in the region and move it forward by implementing a new management style, new technologies, and a renewed commitment to providing world-class service to its riders—by hiring Veolia Transportation to manage all aspects of the agency.

EXPO 2011 in New Orleans will provide transit professionals with an opportunity to see firsthand this great story of recovery and revitalization. It will also give them a chance to participate on technical tours that showcase exciting projects helping both our system and our city to grow.

The RTA currently is involved in several unique projects, such as the expansion of rail lines through a multi-phase construction project that will extend the lines through business and residential districts. These projects already have stimulated economic investment and growth in the city. Additionally, the agency is embarking on a streetcar refurbishment project that will restore all the railcars in our historic fleet to their original beauty.

The agency has fully implemented Global Positioning Satellite technology to monitor service and has installed new system signage, including bus stops, shelters, system maps, and line schedules featuring the new brand of the agency.

In its efforts to build efficiencies and convenience, the RTA has introduced new fare media and installed automated ticket vending machines at its major transfer points. RTA also plans to launch a state-of-the-art web site this summer offering e-commerce, interactive system status alerts, mobile capacity, and an online business center.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention all the beauty, food, music, and fun EXPO 2011 attendees will find in New Orleans as they take a streetcar ride through our Garden District on the historic St. Charles Avenue Perley Thomas green cars, or aboard one of our more modern red cars through the Central Business District on Canal Street, or nestled between the banks of the Mississippi River and the historic French Market on our Riverfront Line. And what can I say about the food, music, and friendly atmosphere that can only be found in the Big Easy?

So join me for a bowl of gumbo, come dance to some authentic New Orleans jazz, stroll down Bourbon Street for a night of fun—whatever you choose, EXPO 2011 in New Orleans will be the best in recent history. Register now and don’t forget; Laissez les bon temps rouler…Let the good times roll.

See you in October!

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