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Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

NEWORLEANS- Veolia, the European firm that manages the buses and streetcars for the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority has apparently been in long negotiations to run the local ferries as well.

State Senator David Heitmeier, D-Algiers says he's been meeting with the company for about a year.

'We went through the process with Veolia,' said Heitmeier. 'We met certain bars and they felt that we did everything that they asked us to do to put the package in place for the finances for the ferry operation to continue.'

But, the clock is ticking.

The Algiers-Canal Street Ferry is now scheduled to shut down at the end of the month.

City Council member Kristin Palmer says any stoppage would be a mistake.

'I think we're looking at a ferry, that when we have over two million passenger trips, annually, it is one of the most important linkages of people to their jobs, to their workplaces,' said Palmer, the District C council member.

Both Heitmeier and Palmer are cautiously optimistic that a deal will eventually get done with the RTA and Veolia. But they agree, the DOTD may have to come in and take over the ferry operation for a couple of months before all the moving pieces are in place.

'We need the Department of Transportation at the table,' said Palmer. 'We need them to be that stop gap for about two months until we get all of this together because it is a very complicated deal. They've been a wonderful partner to date.'

Senator Heitmeier who spent some summers working as a deckhand on the ferries, is now discussing options with the DOTD.

He admits there may be some changes going forward.

'I think the hours may be tweaked from what I'm hearing. Some of the hours may be tweaked. And, there is a concern about cars at Canal Street,' said Heitmeier.

Pedestrians would also pay a fare to cross the river on the ferry. Right now they ride for free.

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