We used to ride the ferry to Algiers for live music on weekends during our visits to New Orleans. It appears the ferry no longer has late-evening hours to and from Algiers. What happened and how can we get the service restored?
Wil Best, Harrisburg, Pa.
New Orleanians cherish visitors like you, who return to our fair city to soak up the culture — particularly at great music spots like those on Algiers Point. As you've noted, getting to and from them late at night is more challenging now because of changes to the ferry service.
Let's start with a little history. According to the Friends of the Ferry's website, the Algiers ferry first began offering regular service in 1827. The Louisiana Legislature granted August Coycault and Barthelemy Gosselin a contract to operate a steam ferry on the Mississippi River from the foot of Patterson Street on the West Bank to Jackson Square on the East Bank. In 1834, a second ferry was added, and its East Bank landing was later moved to Canal Street. A third ferry line was added in 1858, going from Verret Street to Esplanade Avenue, along with the Walnut Street Ferry, which took riders from Audubon Park to Westwego.
At the time the ferry was introduced, Algiers was governed by its own police jury and was separate from the City of New Orleans. That changed in 1870, when Algiers was incorporated into the city. More recently, the ferries reportedly carried more than a million passengers a year, but state officials say those numbers have dropped. The ferry's extended hours fell victim to the same 2013 ballot measure that ended tolls on the Crescent City Connection. When voters abolished the bridge tolls, they also cut off one of the ferry's main funding sources.
Operations since have been privatized. Transdev, the company that runs the Regional Transit Authority, now operates the ferry and charges $2 per passenger. Ferry service has been cut back to 16 hours a day instead of 18 hours a day. A November 2014 story in The Times-Picayune reported ridership at about 350,000 since February, when the operations were privatized. Although the ferries remain popular during special events, the average daily ridership numbers don't suggest the company will add more hours — but ferry managers say they will consider it if they see more passengers. You can let them know how you feel by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.