Organized passenger transportation service in Jefferson Parish commenced in the 1930s and was privately owned and operated. Fifty years later, Jefferson Parish Government assumed ownership and established the government owned and operated transit function. In 1989, Jefferson Parish voters approved for ten years an annual 2-mil property tax to support fixed-route transit services and 1-mil property tax to support paratransit services for elderly and disabled citizens. These 10-year millage assessments were renewed at the same rate in 1999 and again in 2009.
In 1990, the Jefferson Parish Department of Transit Administration was created and took responsibility for overseeing the private management companies contracted to operate the Jefferson Transit system. Until 2006, Jefferson Parish contracted fixed-route operations of Eastbank public transit and Westbank public transit under two separate management companies, with a third company managing the parishwide paratransit system. As the cost to operate the transit system rose significantly following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Jefferson Parish sought to better control costs by consolidating all transit operations under a single contract. Starting in 2006, all fixed-route operations were solely managed by Veolia Transportation, Inc., and in 2008, Veolia took on the paratransit operations as well.
Throughout the 1990s and until 2005 when Hurricane Katrina disrupted public transit service throughout the region, Jefferson Transit transported an average of 4 million riders annually. Following Hurricane Katrina, transit operations were scaled back to meet budgetary constraints and a reduced demand for service. Since ridership in Jefferson Parish is tied significantly to the ridership experienced by the New Orleans transit system, Jefferson’s rebound to its pre-Katrina level remains in process.