NEW ORLEANS - Those who rely on the Algiers-Canal Street ferry for late night transportation had to find another way home starting Monday night.
It's the first night the ferry's new hours go into effect. The ferry once ran until midnight, but funding issues mean weekday service will now end at 6:45 pm.
And those who use the ferry say the new schedule will have devastating effects.
And now that the ferry's hours are being slashed, so too are people's livelihoods.
“I'm going to lose about half of my income, because some of the tours I give are at night, and I'm not going to be able to do that,” said Annette Watt, a French Quarter tour guide who lives in Algiers.
Watt relies on the ferry to get home when she gets off work at 10 pm. With no car, the alternatives, she says, are a slow, often crowded midnight bus or an expensive cab. Now she, and many others who work late in downtown New Orleans and live across the river, must make a choice.
“Now they have a decision to make, ‘Do I quit my job and stay here or do I move over to New Orleans on the other side of the river?’ It's making a dramatic impact,” said John Anzaldua, who lives in downtown New Orleans, but often takes the ferry to Algiers.
The change is already prompting some to consider moving out of Algiers as the ferry continues to have an uncertain future.
“I know at least five couples that are looking, actively looking for some place to live on the other side of the river,” said Watt.
Ronnie Bean lives on the Westbank and works in Jackson Square until 7 pm. He said the new schedule will force him to leave work early in order to catch the ferry.
“It's going to hurt, it's going to cut my hours because I got to get off early and get things settled and everything and get all my stuff done and try to get back over here,” said Bean.
District C Councilwoman Kristin Palmer said in a statement, “I fully understand how difficult these reduced hours will be for the many of you who rely on the ferries to get to and from work everyday or who do not have access to a car. That's why I am working with state and local officials to ensure that these reduced hours are temporary and that a long-term solution is found.”
Those who use the ferries hope ferry service will be restored to its full hours soon.
“Me being a young musician, [Algiers] is where I go, this is my old stomping ground, from Algiers to the French Quarter, that ferry takes me where I need to go. For them to cut down the schedule you know is just absurd,” said LeRoy Leerson.
The ferry runs from 7:15 am until 6:45 pm Monday through Thursday, with the final ferries leaving Algiers Point at 6:15 pm and Canal Street at 6:30 pm.
On Fridays, service will run from 7:15 am until 8:15 pm. On Saturdays and Sundays, service will begin at 10:45 am. It will end at 8:15 pm on Saturdays and 6:15 pm on Sundays.
There will be exceptions for special events. For a full list of hours go to http://www.dotd.la.gov/ferry/.