Streetcar, New Orleans
Streetcars were introduced in New Orleans in the 1830s. At some point there were dozens of streetcar lines running all over the city, including one that ran along Desire Street and that became immortalized in Tennessee Williams's play. However, starting in the 1930s, the city began replacing streetcars with buses, until there was only one streetcar line left: the one running along St. Charles Avenue (eventually, two other lines were reintroduced: the Riverfront and Canal Street lines). The St. Charles Avenue streetcar dates back to 1835. It covers about 10 km, which makes it the longest streetcar line in New Orleans and the most scenic one as well. For only $1.25, you can hop on board one of the distinctively green streetcars and ride all the way from Canal Street to Uptown New Orleans (the streetcar stop is located at the corner of Canal and Carondelet St., exact change is needed). It takes about 30 minutes to travel from Canal Street to Audubon Park, which makes it a fun and convenient way to admire the beautiful architecture along St. Charles Avenue. It's also a really good way to reach the Garden District from the French Quarter.
I know its cliche but I had to use it. Tennessee Williams classic play is set in New Orleans and these street cars were the inspiration for its title. They are inexpensive. You can purchase day or multiple day passes. And after crawling on Burbon Street all night you will not feel like walking much the next day. The two major lines are the St. Charles Street Line and the Riverfront Line. The St. Charles Line is the one most tourist use. It takes you to the Garden District and Audubon Park. The Riverfront line takes you from the French Market Area to the business district. I used both while visiting. The St. Charles line is a beautiful ride. And the Riverfront line was convenient.
Be like Blanceh Dubois in Tennessee Williams play. Depend upon the kindness of strangers and use the streetcars.
If you are spending time in the French Quarter, you will likely be walking along the waterfront of the Mississippi River at some point. If you want to quickly move from one end of the waterfront to the other, the New Orleans RTA streetcars are a quick and efficient manner to move between the ends. The street car moves between the Jackson Brewery and down past the Old French Market.
The RTA offers two types of VisiTour Passes (unlimited rides):
1 DAY : $5.00
3 DAY : $12.00
Picture #1: RTA Streetcar
Picture #2: Toulouse Station
Ah! No I was not playing Marlon Brando in “A streetcar named desire”, too easy to make a reference to Kazan’s movie. . . I only took a ride in the streetcar to go to Audubon Park, on the St Charles Avenue line, and a short ride on Canal street line.
On the St Charles Line I was travelling on the oldest continuously operating streetcar in the world!
Read more on the website.
Military green carriages leaving the buildings with Spanish style balconies (picture 1), they really look old fashioned, with their riveted sheet metal, framed windows (picture 2), hard mahogany seats (picture 3), it is a pleasure for the tourist to take a trip on them!
The St Charles line goes through the Garden district on wide green avenues (picture 4) and reaches almost the Mississippi at the last station, Old Carrolton. Most of the trip is on the centre of the avenue, under the shade of big oak trees.
The fare is 1.25 US$, and once you drop off you have to pay again if you board one, or you have to purchase 3 days or 5 days passes, which also give access to buses of the Regional Transit Authority in the New Orleans area.
There are two other lines in New Orleans, the River Front Line and the Canal Street line which takes you to the Business district of New Orleans. One can see that on Canal Street (picture 5), it can be busy with streetcars.
New Orleans has the oldest, continually operating streetcar system in the country and once had dozens of different lines intersecting the city. Sadly, one by one, they were replaced by city buses until there was only one line left. Fortunately for us, this charming mode of transportation made a comeback and the cars are again clicking and clanging their way to many of the city's most visited areas.
There are three lines to choose from:
Riverfront Line (red cars) runs along the Mississippi from the Convention Center to the far edge of the French Quarter. This is a great way to travel between the Quarter and hotels in the Warehouse District. There are 9 stops where you can get on or off, and some of the places along the way include Jackson Square, the French Market, Audubon Aquarium and Riverwalk Marketplace.
Canal Street line (also red cars) runs from the foot of Canal Street up to City Park. Use this line to get to the excellent New Orleans Museum of Art or Harrah's - there are many stops along Canal Street.
The St. Charles line was the only one operating in the mid 1960's. Its cars are green and 35 of them are original, 1920's models. Take these to the Garden District, Audubon Park and Loyola University from the downtown corner of St. Charles and Canal Streets or from stops along St. Charles in the Warehouse District..
The streetcars are fun and easy to use! Most local guides include maps with stops clearly marked, and they're also easy to find on the streets - look for the shelters or benches near the tracks. A one-way ride costs $1.25 and you must have exact change. One day passes can also be purchased from any streetcar operator for $5.00. Board and pay at the front of the car (feed your money into the fare box), and you'll usually exit from the back of the car. Remember which side you sat on going one direction, and sit there again coming back - you'll see the sights on the other side. Still confused? The operators and the locals are very helpful - just ask.
The New Orleans' streetcar system has been around long before the Tennesee Williams of the world. This is possibly the best way to travel around the French Quarter area. (Other than on foot.)
Make sure you have EXACT CHANGE ($1.25 each way/person) before you step up into the car. The drivers WILL NOT MAKE change. If you know you're going to be using the street cars or buses often, I suggest using the VISITOUR PASSES. They offer 1 DAY : $5.00...3 DAY : $12.00. With your VisiTour pass, you may board RTA buses and streetcars as often as you like. No need to worry about exact fare -- just show your validated VisiTour Pass to the operator. You can get the Passes at most hotels, retail/grocery stores and information booths. The streetcar operators have only the 1 day passes.
The cars generally pass every 15 minutes or so. But often the interval is a lot longer. This can be the result of several stops by the driver, getting caught at several of the many lights up and down St. Charles, and those wonderful car drivers who think they can beat the streetcar across the track only to find too much oncoming traffic, forcing the streetcar to stop. Sometimes it doesn't and you may a witness to an accident, which we did!!
For more information about the streetcar and bus routes and pass information check out their website.
Wikipedia's cited entry for this line is the following:
In 1900, the St. Charles and Tulane streetcar lines were extended on Carrollton Avenue and connected together, resulting in a two-way belt line. Cars signed St. Charles left Canal Street on Baronne Street to Howard Avenue to St. Charles Avenue, thence all the way to Carrollton and out that avenue, returning to the central business district on Tulane Avenue. Streetcars leaving Canal Street on Tulane Avenue were signed Tulane, operating out to Carrollton Avenue, then turning riverward to St. Charles Avenue, passing Lee Circle to Howard Avenue, and finally down Baronne (later Carondelet) to Canal Street.
This describes the route closer into the city, but this line is also helpful for those coming from further away. For example, I took the Jefferson Transit (JET) Biodiesel bus (which costs $1.50) from beyond the Huey Long Bridge on the Jefferson Highway all the way to the corner of Carrollton and Claiborne Avenue, the terminus of the Carrollton streetcar line. This was about a 30 minute trip, and the biodiesel bus was really pretty peppy and clean. The driver had to contend with heavy traffic, narrow lanes, and speeds of 40 mph along Jefferson Hwy, which suddenly reduces to 20mph for 90 degree bank turns in a couple of places along the route, as well as at least two complete stops for railroad track crossings.
I had to wait awhile for the streetcar to arrive at the Carrollton and Claiborne terminus, and then I helped the driver change the orientation of the seats, since the streetcar itself doesn't turn around to return down the line. In any case, the Carrolton streetcar begins and proceeds to the corner of Willow/Carrollton, right near the junction of tracks coming from the Streetcar Barn a couple of blocks down Willow. At this point, passengers are asked to disembark and walk to another streetcar at the front of a line of waiting streetcars that are part of the St. Charles-Carrollton Line. The street car fills up rapidly and becomes standing room only as it approaches the terminus of the line at Canal and St Charles. This part of the trip takes about 45 minutes as the streetcar speeds average about 20mph, with stops at streetlights. Price is $1.25
These street car stop signs are dotted in and around the French Quarter. I had not realized that the TROLLEYS stop at these points. I thought that regular cars did.
Anyway, live and learn...It didn't take long for me to understand the trolley routes nor did it take long for us to wait for the trolleys.
These vintage streetcars ply the streets of New Orleans regularly and are an attraction all by themselves! They are operated by the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority or NORTA.
You can take a ride on them for $1.25 standard fare--transfers are 25 cents each. For those who are seniors, disabled or for children 2 and under there is no fee.
Bikers can now pedal to the bus stops (on fixed route RTA and JeT buses), anchor their bikes to the rack and hop on! VisiTour passes can be purchased at a variety of places: one day pass is $5; three day pass is $12.
For schedules and times, plus more detailed info. go to website below or phone 1-504-248-3900.
Have to take the streetcars while in New Orleans. Take the St. Charles Ave. Streetcar from Canal street all the way to Carrollton through the Garden District with stops everywhere you will want to get off. The trip is an adventure in itself.
While in the Vieux Carre walk and see, feel and smell everything.
For $1.25 one way you can get to many of the tourist areas using one of the trolly lines. You need exact change but the "coin box" accepts dollar bills so no need for a pocket full of quarters.
The Red line runs down Canal street to the Riverwalk. Its not super fast, nothing is fast in NO, but unlike the Green line its new and air conditioned. Once at the Riverwalk there's another Red line that will take you to the Convention Center. To get to the Garden District hop the Green line off of Canal at St Charles St and take a ride in what has to be the oldest electric trollies in the country. All in all its a fun experience, cheaper than a taxi, and the drivers are the friendliest people in town.
The streetcars are one of those touristy must-experience things which New Orleans has to offer. There are three lines currently: Riverfront, Canal, and St. Charles. The Canal line was re-activated last year, and runs from downtown up to City Park. St. Charles is the line folks think of most often, because it runs from downtown to Uptown, past Tulane and Loyola and all sorts of old stately homes.
However, you should be forewarned....the cars don't seem to run on any kind of schedule. On a few occasions, we've waited 30 minutes for a car, only to have 3 cars show up at once!
Check out the web site for more info.
If you’re going to visit any restaurant on St. Charles Street (from the French Quarter) I would certainly recommend that you take the streetcar. The fares are quite reasonable - if you purchase the VisiTour Pass (1-Day Unlimited Rides) for $5 or the VisiTour Pass (3-Day Unlimited Rides) for $12. The one-way fares are a little high ($1.50 for each route on the Riverfront, and $1.25 for each route on St. Charles). The streets are very narrow for a car (much less an SUV), and many of the streets are one-way to add the aggravation.
Just take the streetcars (open train) it will take you to almost anywhere in New Orleans.
For a $1.50 you can travel from downtown to the audobon zoo or french quarter or even to the convention center near IMAX theatre. Dont waste your money to a ridiculous taxi meter and tips!
The St Charles line is under repair (as of 4/07) and won't be up and running , aside from a short stretch downtown , until later in the year. I missed it during my visit both for sentimental and financial reasons.