Streetcars are an economical scenic way to travel around New Orleans. They have been an integral part of New Orleans’ public transportation since 1835. The St. Charles Streetcar Line is the only line that has operated continuously throughout New Orleans’ streetcar history. In August 2005, service was interrupted after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. Service on the line resumed in December 2006.
All other lines were replaced by bus service from the late 1940s to the early 1960s. Preservationists worked for decades to bring back streetcars to Canal Street. In the late twentieth century, trends began to favor rail transit again and a short Riverfront Line began service in 1988. Service returned to Canal Street in 2004, forty years after it had been shut down.
There are four operating streetcar lines in New Orleans: The St. Charles Streetcar Line, the Riverfront Streetcar Line, the Canal Streetcar Line, and the Loyola-UPT Streetcar Line. A fifth streetcar line under construction in the French Quarter will begin service in 2015. The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority operates the streetcar lines.
The standard fare for a one-way trip on a bus or streetcar is $1.25. Transfers cost 25 cents and are valid for two hours on any bus or streetcar that continues a trip. Transfers can be purchased from the bus driver or streetcar conductor at the time of boarding when the fare is paid. Children two years of age and under ride free. Senior citizens, disabled riders and Medicare cardholders can ride standard RTA buses and streetcars for 40 cents, and receive transfers for free.
The Jazzy Pass is a card with a magnetic strip that lets passengers ride RTA busses and streetcars as much as they would like during the period it is active. Jazzy Pass rates are as follows:
- 1-day – $3.00
- 3-day – $9.00
- 31-day – $55.00
Jazzy Passes can be purchased online and are delivered within five to seven days. Payment can be made by credit card, debit card, e-checks, and by set recurring purchases.
One day Jazzy Passes can be purchased from the bus driver or streetcar conductor when you board. Only cash is accepted onboard.
All Jazzy Passes are available from RTA resale vendors.
Most of the RTA’s standard buses and streetcars are equipped to serve disabled riders. Some riders, however, may have a temporary or permanent disability that prevents them from using the standard RTA system. Qualified paratransit riders, can be picked up by a bus or van curbside within Orleans Parish. Reservations are required in advance.
St. Charles Streetcar Line
The St. Charles Streetcar Line has been in operation since 1835. It is the oldest continuously operating streetcar line in the world. The streetcar line runs from Canal Street to the end of St. Charles Avenue, and then turns right into South Carrolton Avenue to its terminal at Carrolton and Claiborne.
The St. Charles Streetcar Line is the only service in the RTA system to operate 24 hours a day post-Katrina. It operates very frequently daily, from six minutes during the day to ten minutes in the evening, with 20 to 30 minute intervals at night.
Canal Streetcar Line
The Canal Streetcar Line uses the Riverfront line tracks from the intersection of Canal Street and Poydras Street, down Canal Street, then branches off and ends at the cemeteries at City Park Avenue, with a spur running from the intersection of Canal and Carrollton Avenue to the entrance of City Park at Esplanade, near the entrance to the New Orleans Museum of Art.
The Canal-Cemeteries branch operates from 5:00 AM to 3:00 AM the next morning, seven days a week. It operates from 16 minutes during the day and night to 30 minutes late at night. The Canal-City Park/Museum branch has shorter operations as it operates seven days a week from 7:00 AM to 1:00 AM every 30 minutes. After 11:00 PM, the City Park branch does not operate to downtown New Orleans. It operates from the intersection of Canal and White Street to the Museum of Art.
Riverfront Streetcar Line
The Riverfront Streetcar Line runs parallel to the river from Esplanade Street through the French Quarter to Canal Street to the Convention Center above Julia Street in the Arts District.
The Riverfront Streetcar Line operates between 7:00 AM and 10:30 PM seven days a week. Frequencies range from 15 minutes in the afternoons on the weekends to 20 minutes late morning to early evenings during the weekdays, with early mornings and late evening being the least frequent at 40 minutes.
Loyola-UPT Streetcar Line
The Loyola-UPT Streetcar Line runs along Loyola Avenue from New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal to Canal Street, and then continues along Canal Street to the Mississippi River. On weekends the Loyola-UPT streetcar line runs on the Riverfront line tracks to French Market.
The Loyola-UPT Streetcar Line operates between 6:00 AM and midnight, with frequencies ranging from 20 minutes on weekdays to 30 minutes on the weekends and every night.
Perley A. Thomas Car Works manufactured the 900 Series streetcars from 1923 to 1924 that are used on the St. Charles Streetcar Line. Each of the 35 green streetcars is a historic landmark.
The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority manufactured the 2000 Series (900 Series Replicas) in 1999 and from 2002 to 2003. Twenty-four of the red 2000 Series streetcars have been in operation since 1999.
The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority manufactured the 457-463 Series (900 Series Replicas) in 1997. Seven of the red 457-463 Series streetcars have been in operation since 1997.