A bill that could allow the Regional Transit Authority to operate the Chalmette and Canal Street ferries is on its way to Gov. Bobby Jindal for his signature. And that’s the topic of this week’s Commentary by Eyewitness News Political Analyst and Gambit columnist Clancy DuBos.
Clancy DuBos / Eyewitness News Political Analyst
When voters killed the bridge tolls last month, some worried that local ferry service would suffer. A bill by state Sen. David Heitmeier could give the ferries a new lease on life — if Gov. Bobby Jindal signs it.
Heitmeier’s bill provides $4 million a year for the Chalmette ferry, and $800,000 a year for the Canal Street ferry. His bill also allows the Regional Transit Authority to operate the ferries under an agreement with the state.
Right now the ferries are free for pedestrians, a dollar for vehicles crossing from the West Bank. If the RTA takes over, it could raise fares — but all fares must be used for ferry service.
Heitmeier says another $4 million is available to match $16 million from the feds — to buy new ferries, and to improve landings. And, any leftover toll money that the state does not return to West Bank motorists will be split between the ferries and maintenance of the bridge.
Which all goes to show that, at least so far, the sky is not falling as a result of the tolls going away.