Public Transit Use in Louisiana Trails National Average

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BATON ROUGE (The Center Square) — Public transportation use in Louisiana trails the national average, though its rate remains higher than in many southern states, according to analysis from the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana.

PAR analyzed federal data to put Louisiana’s public transportation use in perspective, illustrating how the vast majority of public transit use is concentrated in the state’s three largest metropolitan areas: New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport.

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics show the average percentage of Louisianans commuting to work by public transportation has declined from 1.22% or about 57,000 in 2010 to .75% or about 35,000 in 2021.

“Compared to the 10 Southern states … Louisiana has the fourth-highest percentage of public transit use, outranked by only Texas, Florida and Virginia, all of which have some of the largest transit agencies in the country,” the analysis read.

“A 2021 report by the Census Bureau showed the country’s Southern region had the lowest share of workers who commuted by transit at 2%.”

A chart comparing public transit use in Southern states shows Louisiana’s rate is higher than in seven other states: Georgia at .71%, North Carolina at .51%, Tennessee at .36%, South Carolina at .32%, Mississippi and Alabama at .23%, and Arkansas at .19%.

Only 18 of 64 parishes in Louisiana operate a public transportation system, while over two dozen others offer limited services through the Council on Aging or other community service programs for the elderly or disabled. Those services are also sometimes available to the general public, PAR reports.

The state’s largest public transportation agencies include the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority, the Capital Area Transit System in Baton Rouge, and SporTran in Shreveport, with over 2 million annual boardings, according to the American Public Transportation Association.

“While public transit use across Louisiana is declining, ridership in New Orleans is growing,” PAR reports. “As reported by APTA, the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority has experienced a continued rise in weekly ridership since July 2022, surpassing the national average.”

Funding for public transit in Louisiana comes mostly from local governments, though the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development occasionally allocates limited funding for specific projects. While that’s in line with most southern states, others like North Carolina and Georgia, directly fund public transportation.

In North Carolina, funding equates to about $400 per 100,000 people, while Georgia spends about $343 per 100,000, according to Bureau of Transportation Statistics cited by PAR.

The federal government also provides funding for public transportation in Louisiana, with $8 million in COVID-19 relief funding for the 2022-23 fiscal year, PAR reports.

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