Update, 4:45 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20: The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development announced the pedestrian-only ferry service will be delayed indefinitely. It was scheduled to replace the current Algiers-Canal Street ferry on Sept. 23. A statement reads, "The switch to pedestrian-only service will be delayed until further notice."
The Algiers-Canal Street ferry system’s new fares were approved, and the transfer of responsibility from the Louisiana Department of Transportation (DOTD) to the local New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) is planned before the end of the year. Meanwhile, DOTD announced that the ferry will only transport pedestrians beginning Monday, Sept. 23.
The M/V Louis B. Porterie ferry served the route, but that boat was replaced with the M/V Arminger, which is a smaller vessel that can’t accommodate cars. DOTD will use the former vessel for backup on its other routes.
RTA proposed its fare structure following a public hearing from riders and Algiers residents and business owners, and its board approved the fares Aug. 13. On Aug. 22, New Orleans City Council unanimously approved the fares (which will look like this), with plans to accommodate vehicles.
RTA communications director Patrice Bell Mercadel said RTA is "working everyday to get through the transition period" and waiting for approval and authorization of its plan with DOTD. She said RTA hopes to takeover the ferries and implement the fares by December. However, she said it's still "so early on in the planning stages" to answer whether the ferries will accommodate cars once RTA takes over.
Following the Aug. 5 public hearing to discuss the future of the Mississippi River ferries, New Orleans Regional Transit Authority's (RTA) board of commissioners met today to consider the proposed changes to the ferries' fare structure. The board voted in their favor, and they now head to New Orleans City Council for final approval.
The RTA made some adjustments to its fare proposal, presented last week. It took note of five points made at the Aug. 5 public meeting, including keeping fares affordable, offering discounts to regular riders, integrating public transit (including buses and streetcars) into the fare, and recognizing the needs of low-income riders.
Here is the RTA's "new" proposal for the Algiers-Canal Street ferry:
- The proposed $75 monthly ferry pass dropped to $65.
- The fare structure also includes one-day, five-day and 31-day integrated public transit passes for ferry, streetcar and bus service: one-day integrated transit pass is $7; 5-day ferry only pass is $18; 5-day integrated pass is $30; 31-day ferry-only pass is $65; 31-day integrated pass is $108.
- There still will be a daily $2 pedestrian fare ($4 round-trip). There is a $1 senior discount.
- The $5 day pass was eliminated.
- Drivers pay $2 one way and $2 for each additional passenger. There is a $1 senior discount.
Update, July 31: DOTD announced the ferry is back in service and was scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation (DOTD) has announced that the ferry servicing Algiers from Canal Street is out of service "until further notice." The DOTD suspended service yesterday when the vessel servicing Chalmette experienced a mechanical failure and the Algiers ferry moved to Chalmette.
Service already has been slashed by DOTD when it took control of the ferry earlier this month. Service used to run until midnight — the new schedule halts the ferries at 6:15 p.m. on weekdays and 8 p.m. weekends. Now, the ferry is effectively shut down:
Currently, there are no other boats available for service and the estimated time of service resuming at Algiers Point is unknown. DOTD is working diligently to determine the required repair.
Algiers businesses and downtown workers who live across the Mississippi River voiced concern for their businesses staying afloat — and livelihoods out of danger — at the New Orleans City Council's transportation committee meeting last week. City Council will hold a special meeting 5 p.m. Monday, August 5 to discuss the Regional Transit Authority's pitch for a fare increase. Pedestrians could pay up to $2 per trip or a monthly pass of $75.
The LA Swift bus service that transports commuters between Baton Rouge and New Orleans is one of the silver linings that followed Hurricane Katrina. Now it’s threatened with extinction. Local officials in both cities are trying to help the transit service avoid that fate. I hope they succeed.
As horrific as Katrina was for south Louisiana, the storm also forged lasting bonds between communities that came to the aid of coastal parishes and those that were devastated. Baton Rouge responded on many levels, welcoming displaced New Orleanians who sought places to live within driving distance to the metro area.
Many of us still recall with dread the hours-long daily traffic jams on I-10 between New Orleans and the Capital City. To ease the congestion, the state established a park-and-ride commuter bus service between the two cities in October 2005. LA Swift became an instant hit. Even now, almost eight years after the storm, the service (which contracts with Hotard Coaches to provide buses) still provides more than 10,000 rides a month — and ridership is steadily growing.
Granted, the service was originally created as a temporary measure to help displaced New Orleanians get to work after the storm, but it has grown into a vital link between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Riders use it in both directions, so much so that civic and political leaders in both cities are rallying to keep LA Swift going. The service attracts some 200 riders a day.
LA Swift began via a Federal Transit Administration recovery grant, along with a $5 charge for each one-way trip. The grant is still available, but since 2007 it has required a local match, which the state has provided. The state will not provide that match going forward, however, and the service was set to end June 30. State officials last week gave LA Swift a one-month reprieve, giving local officials a chance to raise the local match, which is more than $700,000.
Transit advocacy group Ride New Orleans (formerly Transport for NOLA) holds the "By Boat or by Float" second line tonight to boost awareness of the Algiers ferry.
With no private operators in line to run the ferries once its public funds run out June 30 (following the dissolve of the Crescent City Connection tolls, which powered the ferries), lawmakers have come up with some solutions to keep them running — State Sen. David Heitmeier, D-New Orleans, has a bill to put the ferry's control under a municipal authority, like the Regional Transit Authority, with funding from the state's Department of Transportation and Development. The bill passed the House yesterday.
The second line begins at the Canal Street ferry terminal and continues on the Algiers ferry and into Algiers Point where it meets the Wednesdays on the Point event. Participants are encouraged to wear innertubes, lifejackets, arm floaties, goggles, snorkles and other water gear in an effort to show "just how many people will have to cross the river by [floating] ... if they cannot cross the river by boat."
The rally gathers at 5:30 p.m. and the second line begins at 5:45 p.m.
This afternoon, outside Armstrong Park on Rampart Street, city officials unveiled one of the 17 "Evacuspots," 14-foot sculptures to identify pickup points in the event the city activates its mandatory hurricane evacuation plan. The 2013 hurricane season began June 1.
"We can't be ready enough," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. "Every season is different."
The stick-man sculptures, created by artist Doug Kornfeld, indicate a pick up location where anyone can meet for a city-assisted ride out of the city. Robert X. Fogarty, founder of Evacuteer, which developed the Evacuspot idea, said the Evacuspots create public art that also serves a purpose, rather than "signs the size of a two-hour parking sign. ... These sculptures signify an evacuation we hope to never have to use," he said.
"Arts and culture intersect directly with civic goals," said Kim Cook, president of the Arts Council of New Orleans, which funded the $200,000 project.
Attached to the sculpture is a reminder about what you can and can't bring with you if you evacuate with the city: you can bring only one 22-inch by 15-inch luggage and you must have identification; pets must be in a carrier or on a leash and must be updated with vaccinations and identified; and no drugs, guns or "prohibited substances."
You can find all the Evacuspot locations listed here.
Last week, the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) introduced preliminary plans for a streetcar to link Canal Street to Elysian Fields Avenue along Rampart Street and St. Claude Avenue. Among the plans was the reveal that the car would not occupy space on the neutral ground nor its own dedicated transit lane. Instead, the streetcar will share the left lane with traffic — except during peak traffic hours, when it will be exclusively reserved for the streetcar. Many attendees at the meeting asked if it would run in its own lane when traffic is at its worst, then why not all the time?
New Orleans District C councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer and neighborhood groups had the same question at this afternoon's council transportation committee meeting. Palmer and District C councilman James Gray also challenged the RTA to include more than one bike lane — the current plan has only one bike lane, headed into the CBD.
"To me, that doesn't make any sense," said Carol Allen, president of the Vieux Carre Property Owners Association, adding that there likely is federal funding available for bike infrastructure. Palmer agreed.
Jefferson Parish Council Chairman Chris Roberts and Councilman-at-large Elton Lagasse have sent an open letter to state representatives, asking them to call off the special election in May that would have voters (again) determine the fate of the now-suspended tolls on the Crescent City Connection.
Roberts and Lagasse also announced that the council would act on a formal resolution requesting the state legislature to "save the cost of the election which would be incurred by the State of Louisiana."
Letter under the jump.
Last night, New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) officials and engineers revealed the first glimpse of the anticipated streetcar connecting the Central Business District to the French Quarter and Marigny. According to current plans, the new streetcar won’t run on the neutral ground but on a shared lane — which becomes streetcar-only during “peak” traffic. The transit corridor’s overhaul also will include a bike lane, though only heading from the Marigny into the CBD.
“We’ve tried to incorporate as many of your questions and concerns as possible over the last three years,” said Justin Augustine, RTA general manager and vice president of Veolia TransDev.
According to the project’s timeline, final construction documents are due by the end of June, with the construction bid finalized and awarded by early 2014, and construction wrapped by 2015. (Sixty percent of the design is complete.) The $75 million bond-financed project will run track from Canal Street to Elysian Fields Avenue, with six stops — at Conti, St. Ann and Ursulines streets, Esplanade Avenue, Pauger Street, and Elysian Fields. There, a double crossover (which will resemble an “X” at the intersection) will remove the travel lane closest to the neutral ground between Frenchmen Street and Elysian Fields for a “full-time dedicated” streetcar lane, according to project manager Bill Norquist. Also, “the travel lanes will be pushed to the outside to the cost of a parking lane for that block,” he said.
Each shelter stop will have lights, ADA accessibility, ticket machines, bike parking and seating. “We also wanted to be respectful of the historic vernacular of the neighborhoods we’re going through,” Norquist said. “We want neighborhoods to take ownership of these stops.”
The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority is holding a public meeting on the upcoming N. Rampart Street/St. Claude streetcar expansion project.
Announcement via Gambit editor Kevin Allman, who adds: "Am I insanely picky to note that a public transit meeting includes parking info (and free validation), but no info on which bus routes come near the meeting?"
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