NEW ORLEANS -- It appears the Algiers-Canal Street Ferry will not shut down at the end of the month as scheduled.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development is taking over the operation as talks with the New Orleans Regional Transportation Authority and its transit management firm Veolia progress.
"We've been having, I think, some really good discussions," said LA Transportation Secretary Sherri LeBas. "There's a lot of data that needs to be transferred from DOTD to RTA. They have questions. We're answering those questions."
DOTD would use the vehicle license fees and capital outlay dollars allocated during the recent legislative session to run the ferries on an interim basis.
"If the agreement with the RTA is not reached, DOTD will continue operating the ferry with the money that's available, that $1.5 million," said LeBas. "DOTD will continue to operate the Chalmette Ferry at the current service level because the Chalmette Ferry fits within the ferry system of a state-run ferry, meaning it's a location where we'd like to put a bridge in. It's a long commute."
The Algiers Ferry would likely run on a reduced schedule beginning next month.
"We have the charts of the ridership showing when the peak riders are," said LeBas. "Does the service need to be provided in the morning hours and then maybe in the afternoon trip back across the river? Should there be weekend services or should the services just be during the week?"
Councilwoman Kristen Palmer said on The 504 that everyone is working hard to get a deal done with the RTA as soon as possible.
"I've been very pleased with the Department of Transportation with Veolia, with the Regional Transit Authority, the city of New Orleans," said Palmer.
Palmer says pedestrians will soon have to pay to ride the ferry.
"We're going to have to put fares on the ferries in order to make them them long-term sustainable, just like you have to pay to get on a bus. It would be wonderful to be able to get a transfer from the ferry to get on a bus or a streetcar line."
State Sen. David Heitmeier's legislation set the stage for the RTA to take over the ferry operation. He's hoping the state will wrap up negotiations with the RTA within the next couple of months.
"I think it will be less than 90 days," Heitmeier said. A spokeswoman for the RTA and Veolia declined comment on the status of the ferry negotiations.