After the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority's (RTA) Aug. 5 public hearing to discuss the future of the Mississippi River ferries, RTA board members met Aug. 13 to consider proposed changes to the ferries' fare structure. The board approved the changes, which now head to the New Orleans City Council for approval.
Before approving the new fares, RTA board members tweaked the plan in response to suggestions made during a public hearing at the Aug. 5 meeting. The suggestions included keeping fares affordable, offering discounts to regular riders, integrating other public transit (including buses and streetcars) into the fare structure and recognizing "the needs of low-income riders."
The latest proposed fare structure drops the monthly pass from the $75 originally proposed to $65 and integrates a monthly pass with other RTA transit options. It includes:
• One-day, five-day and 31-day integrated public transit passes for the ferry, streetcars and buses. A one-day integrated transit pass is $7; a five-day ferry-only pass is $18; a five-day integrated pass is $30; a 31-day ferry-only pass is $65 and a 31-day integrated pass is $108.
• A daily $2 pedestrian fare ($4 round-trip) for the ferry. There is a $1 senior discount.
• A $5 day pass was eliminated.
• Drivers pay $2 for a one-way trip and $2 for each additional passenger. There is a $1 senior discount.
The RTA will take control of the ferry system from the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, which cut services to the ferry after it no longer received funding from Crescent City Connection tolls. The ferry service ends at 8:15 p.m. on weekends and 6:45 p.m. weekdays; ferry service previously ran until midnight. On Saturdays and Sundays, the ferry service begins at 10:45 a.m.
The new fare structure is intended to make up the nearly $3 million revenue shortfall for the ferry service, according to RTA officials, and will allow "normal" service hours to continue. Residents and businesses on the West Bank have complained that the reduced hours have affected them adversely.
— Alex Woodward