How Did We Get Here?
It is most important that we first acknowledge that we did not do this work alone. This work stands on the foundation of incredible reports, studies, data and storytelling provided by Louisianans committed to the future of our state and beloved communities. This work was informed by pieces like the Rails to Resilience study conducted by the University of New Orleans and the Department of Transportation and Development, The Louisiana Intrastate Rail Compact Act, the Congressional Case for Climate Action, works by The Southern Rail Commission, regional planning commissions, and HNTB engineering consultant firm and presentations by their respective commissions and groups.
It is also important to mention that the American railroad system maximizes freight. But we are not mad about this! Freight and commerce trains are safe, efficient, and get things where they need to be. We do not need to compete with them and we do not need to share tracks. They deserve dedicated lanes, as do passengers. When it comes to servicing commuters and passengers, Louisiana has to consider all the facets that impact our transit decision making. We cannot use what we do not have access to. Our leaders must prioritize ways to move the most people safely and efficiently. Decline in the multimodal and public transit sector is not an issue unique to Louisiana. Transportation has often been a victim of budget cuts and layoffs in the attempt to boost finances and end up glossing over the impacts this has on folks who use transit most consistently. This approach leads residents to see public transit as expendable, thus decreasing public transit ridership and revenue. Budget cuts and the conditions of Louisiana’s current public transportation systems were exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic, when we began operating under the notion that the majority of individuals can work from home or that improving public transit was not a priority.