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Saturday, 25 June 2011 00:11

New Orleans became the second American city to have streetcars in 1835. The first city to introduce these horse-driven train cars was San Francisco. These early means of public transportation in New Orleans featured one to three driven by an operator who controlled the reins and brake. A second man was located at the back of the car and it was his responsibility to assist passengers on and off the car, collect fares, and signal the driver when to proceed. This second crew member was known as the conductor.

The most historic and perhaps best known of the New Orleans line are the St. Charles Avenue street cars which run from Canal Street downtown through what is known as the American Sector (down St. Charles Avenue past Loyola and Tulane Universities and Audubon Park) and up Carrollton until reversing at Claiborne Avenue and retracing the route.

The Riverfront Line is the second set of cars which traverse from Esplanade Avenue at the rear of the French Quarter and along the Mississippi to the Ernest Morial Convention Center. These cars are red in color as opposed the St. Charles Line which are green.

The third line is the Canal Street Line which runs from the foot of Canal Street at the Mississippi River; then along Canal through the Carrollton intersection on to City Park Avenue at the cemeteries. A leg of this line also continues over to the New Orleans City Park and the New Orleans Museum of Art from the Canal-Carrollton intersection.

The price of a ticket ($1.25) is sure bargain for those traveling to addresses near the lines. Those visiting New Orleans for the first time or having never ridden the street cars can enjoy a very comfortable ride through some very picturesque areas. There are all-day passes which enable one to get on and off as many times desired for only $5.00 during a 24-hour period.

Stops are located every few blocks and you can expect another passing car every 5 minutes. Pickup locations are identified with a small yellow, vertical sign reading “Car Stop”. Most passengers enter at the front door and pay the exact change to the driver. When nearing your destination, riders signal the driver to stop by pulling on the overhead wire located above the windows on both sides of the car. Exiting is more convenient through the rear of the car.

Because of tree, electrical wires, and track damages as a result of Hurricane Katrina (2005), the St. Charles Line was not reopened until November, 2007.

The re-dedication of the Canal Street Line took place some years following a decision to discontinue operation in the mid 1960’s due to vehicular traffic and pedestrian congestion on Canal. During that dormant time, there were several community groups along with significant public outcry to successfully return the Canal Street Line to its rightful place within the last few years .


Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 July 2011 16:31