Streetcar, New Orleans
Streetcars are a popular way to get around New Orleans.
We quite often caught them from our accommodation in the French Quarter on the Riverfront line into town. Just hop on and pay. They are very cheap but make sure you have the correct change. Prices are listed at the stations.
Streetcars have run through the Uptown districts of New Orleans since 1835. Today’s 35 odd olive-green cars date back to the 1920’ powered by overhead electric cables. One main line runs up and down Canal Street – red cars – while the other – green – runs out St Charles past Garden District mansions, Tulane and Loyola Universities, Audubon Park for 13 miles to end at Carrollton. The journey takes about an hour and a half. With a day pass, you can hop on and off making your own tour. Another streetcar line runs along the riverfront making a connection with the Canal and St Charles lines for those coming from Jackson Square, but that line runs much more infrequently.
The streetcar is a great way to get around, and the day pass is a very good deal. A single trip costs $1.25, + 25¢ for a transfer, but you can buy an all-day pass for $3.00. However, if you are a senior, paying per ride is probably cheapest—it is only 40¢ per trip, with free transfers. (You need to show a Medicare card or other ID as proof of age.)
Tickets require exact change. If you don’t have the right amount, you will get change but it will be on a printed slip that looks like a transfer ticket. I f you need a transfer, ask for it when you get on the first car.
The conductors are very nice, and they are used to visitors who don’t know their way around. If I didn’t know what stop I needed, or where to catch the transfer line, they would tell me
The streetcars around New Orleans are clean, safe and easy to use - make sure you have the right change ($1.25 / ride in April 2013). One driver would not allow any photos to be taken on the street car (not sure if this was his rule or city policy) and would even cover his face with a newspaper when approaching a station that had camera wielding tourists. Perhaps he was camera shy!
Take the Green line to the Garden District and alight at Washington. We got off far too early, wasted our money and walked about a mile.
I highly recommend a street car ride from Canal St. to the end of the line at Carrollton and Claiborne Ave. (The Saint Charles line.) The restored Perley-Thomas streetcars are in great working condition, and give you a sense of what it was like to get around in the 1920s and 30s. My grandfather and uncles were motormen on this line back in the day, and the cars have changed very little since their employ. (No air conditioning, no heat, just the breeze whipping in the open windows.) I am brutally honest in my views concerning my old home town, but this is one of the few things of quality left in The Big Sleazy. As far as safety, the degenerate thugs have left the streetcars alone so far so I doubt you would have any problems. (I did have a streetcar catch fire on me once, but that was a freak accident with no injuries.) Just remember that two to three blocks from each streetcar stop, is a free fire combat zone so don't just get off and start wandering around unless you know what you are doing.
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 $1.25, you can hop on board one of the distinctively green streetcars and ride all the way from Canal Street to Uptown New Orleans (the streetcar stop is located at the corner of Canal and Carondelet St., exact change is needed). It takes about 30 minutes to travel from Canal Street to Audubon Park, which makes it a fun and convenient way to admire the beautiful architecture along St. Charles Avenue. It's also a really good way to reach the Garden District from the French Quarter.
Have to take the streetcars while in New Orleans. Take the St. Charles Ave. Streetcar from Canal street all the way to Carrollton through the Garden District with stops everywhere you will want to get off. The trip is an adventure in itself.
While in the Vieux Carre walk and see, feel and smell everything.
Ah! No I was not playing Marlon Brando in “A streetcar named desire”, too easy to make a reference to Kazan’s movie. . . I only took a ride in the streetcar to go to Audubon Park, on the St Charles Avenue line, and a short ride on Canal street line.
On the St Charles Line I was travelling on the oldest continuously operating streetcar in the world!
Read more on the website.
Military green carriages leaving the buildings with Spanish style balconies (picture 1), they really look old fashioned, with their riveted sheet metal, framed windows (picture 2), hard mahogany seats (picture 3), it is a pleasure for the tourist to take a trip on them!
The St Charles line goes through the Garden district on wide green avenues (picture 4) and reaches almost the Mississippi at the last station, Old Carrolton. Most of the trip is on the centre of the avenue, under the shade of big oak trees.
The fare is 1.25 US$, 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.
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 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.
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
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.
New Orleans operates the oldest streetcar system in the world, in existence since 1833. Following the devastation of Hurrican Katrina, it has taken over a year to get some lines back in service. This is not only a part of the city's heritage, but also a practical means of getting around. That is, if you're not taking a guided tour.
The ride is not the smoothest or quietest, but it's enjoyable and presents some good sightseeing along the route. Every visitor should try it.