As part of Transit Week, which took place last week in New Orleans, local transportation advocacy nonprofit Ride New Orleans gave out awards at a ceremony at Bellocq Nov. 13 to New Orleans "Transit Champions" — people who have dedicated time and energy into making New Orleans public transportation safer, more equitable and more efficient.
Louisiana Speaker of the House Pro Tempore Walt Leger, D-New Orleans, took home Ride's award for Transit Champion of the Year. Trevor Theunissen, president of the board of Ride New Orleans, said Leger has been instrumental in getting a rail line established from New Orleans to Baton Rouge, and has advocated not just for citywide transit but statewide transportation.
The Transit Friendly Business of the Year Award went to Harrah's New Orleans, which has "long supported its employees to ride public transportation by participating in the Regional Transit Authority (RTA)'s employer program to provide discounted transit passes to its employees," Theunissen said. Logan Gaskill, vice president of human resources for Harrah's, who accepted the award, estimated the company spent more than $60,000 buying bus passes this year.
Two urban planners from the University of New Orleans, Peter Duffy Bennett and Vivek Shah shared the award for Volunteer of the Year. The Transit Line of the Year Award, as well as the Project of the Year Award, were both presented to the RTA for the 91 Jackson-Esplanade line.