NEW ORLEANS -- After nearly two years of torn-up streets, loud construction and detours, the $40.6 million North Rampart streetcar line open for business.
Starting Oct 2., the RTA began new streetcar and bus enhancements in New Orleans. It was good news for riders like LC Warnsley, who use public transportation to get to work. He takes the bus to get to his job in Metairie.
"Yeah because now if the St. Claude ain't coming, I can actually jump on the street car and it can take me to Elysian fields. It gets me there a little bit quicker," Warnsley said.
Irelis Macdonald and her husband arrived early in the morning for their first streetcar ride along St. Claude Avenue.
"It goes right by my apartment, so we were excited to be one of the first people to ride it," MacDonald said. Her husband David chuckled and added "We had to sacrifice with all the noise and the jackhammering over the past six months. So we're kind of glad it's over."
Frequency will increase at peak hours of the day with the Canal/Cemeteries streetcar scheduled for 10 minute wait times between vehicles and the North Rampart/St. Claude Ave. streetcar will run from the Union Passenger Terminal to Elysian Fields every 20 minutes.
Kurt Hampton took pictures along the 1.6 mile line for posterity's sake
"I actually rode the first car after Katrina, when they started service back on Canal street. I took pics then and now for the first day of Rampart," Hampton said.
His father wrote a book chronicling streetcars from 1964 to present. Hampton is glad to see the streetcars back. In the sixties the city got rid of them and moved towards buses.
"They thought it was cheaper and more economical at the time--not realizing that this was the way of the future with cleaner transportation," Hampton said.
Now it's back to the future according to riders like the Macdonalds, who've lived in bigger cities like Boston and Sacramento.
"We're used to public transportation. So this is a great addition to the community," Irelis Macdonald said.
For info on all improvements call 504 248-3900 or go to the RTA's website at www.norta.com.