Bright red streetcars will start running Sunday on the new route on North Rampart Street. The $40 million project took almost two years to complete. Advocates for transit riders see it as an improvement to a system that still needs work.
The Regional Transit Authority will be taking passengers about a mile and a-half from the Union Passenger Terminal, along North Rampart Street to Elysian Fields Avenue.
Alex Posorske of the advocacy group Ride New Orleans says the new service will help residents in neighborhoods adjacent to the line. But people without cars are still facing long trips across town to get to work – especially when bus transfers are involved.
“Your average New Orleanian with a car can reach 89 percent of the regions jobs in 30 minutes or less," he said. "But that same average New Orleanian, if she is relying on transit, can only reach 11 percent of the regions jobs in that same time period.”
He says tens of thousands of transit riders need better service. He says the public transit system has still not recovered from Hurricane Katrina.
“Pre-storm in 2004 we had 48 transit lines that were frequencies of 30 minutes or less during the peak hours -- during the a.m. or p.m. rush time," he said. "In 2015-2016, only 10 routes had that kind of frequency.”
Posorske says RTA, public officials and riders are now starting a planning process to improve the network.
Meantime, the mayor will preside at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday afternoon in front of Armstrong Park to inaugurate the service.