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RTA New Orleans Celebrates Historic Streetcar Opening; Event Marks Return of Streetcars after 70 Years

Director, Marketing & Communications
Transdev at RTA

The Regional Transit Authority (RTA) in New Orleans entered revenue service Oct. 2 with its latest addition to the city’s growing streetcar network by putting back on track—for the first time since 1949—streetcars operating along the North Rampart Street/St. Claude Avenue corridor through some of the city’s most historic neighborhoods.

This project, funded by a Series 2010 Sales Tax Revenue Bond, was completed on schedule and within its original construction budget of $41.2 million.

On Oct. 3, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the RTA Board of Commissioners joined city residents and business owners to celebrate the opening of the 1.6-mile extension.

Landrieu said nearly 70 years have passed since buses replaced streetcars along the corridor, so the opening enables the city to “come full circle.” He also credited the streetcars with continuing to spur economic development.

“We know that where there is quality transit service, there will be economic development. Most recently, over $2 billion of private development can be credited in part to the streetcar line that launched along Loyola Avenue in 2013,” Landrieu said. “As a result of this most recent investment in infrastructure, a renaissance is happening along the historic Rampart/St. Claude corridor.” He and other officials predicted greater reinvestment in the city’s historic neighborhoods as a result of the project’s successful completion.

RTA Board Chairwoman Sharonda R. Williams noted the historic and cultural significance of streetcars to the city, calling them “iconic symbols.” She also spoke about RTA’s plans to expand streetcar service and other transit modes as funding becomes available.

“The RTA is committed to expanding the entire intermodal network of transit services that encompasses rail, buses, paratransit and ferry, offering residents a variety of options to access employment, education, entertainment and healthcare,” she said.

Justin Augustine, vice president of Transdev, RTA’s private operating partner, said, “The opening of the North Rampart Street/St. Claude Avenue Streetcar line is great for the citizens of New Orleans. It will help revive the North Rampart corridor and provide a link from Elysian Fields to Canal Street. This line runs along the edges of the French Quarter on its way to some of the most historic neighborhoods in New Orleans, such as the Tremé, Marigny, and St. Roch neighborhoods.”

He added, “The citizens of New Orleans deserve access to affordable, reliable and convenient public transportation. This line does exactly that. It promotes livable communities by enhancing the connectivity of our streetcar networks.”

The red streetcars, affectionately known by locals as the "Red Ladies," will operate every 20 minutes, adding to the existing bus service, which also operates every 20 minutes, thus providing transportation every 10 minutes along the corridor. The line operates from 6 a.m. to midnight and is accessible to people with mobility impairments.

The new six double-sided, lighted stops feature (among other amenities) refurbished light poles that replicate historic cobra-style lights. As Passenger Transport went to press, RTA was preparing a city-wide public celebration in true New Orleans style.

For details, click here.

Transdev is RTA’s private operating partner.

New Orleans RTA unveils its historic North Rampart Street/St. Claude Avenue streetcar line at one of its stations, marking the return of streetcars to the corridor after nearly 70 years.

Photo courtesy of NORTA Twitter feed

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