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Regional Transit Authority

6700 Plaza Drive

New Orleans, LA 70127-2677

Robert Tucker, General Manager

(504) 242 2600


There are actually two vintage trolley Systems in New Orleans. The St. Charles line is a genuine original streetcar line, which can trace its roots back to 1831. Electrified before 1900, it became the last tro1ley line in New Orleans in 1964, when the Canal Street line was converted to buses. Since the 1920s, it has used the same basic streetcar design. By contrast, the Riverfront line was converted from a railroad freight line to a vintage trolley in 1988. The overwhelming success of the line led the RTA to the decision to link it with the St. Charles line, which required re-gauging of the track and other improvements. These were undertaken beginning in 1997. Meanwhile, the RTA has also decided to reinstate trolley operation on the Canal St. line, and this project is underway.


The St. Charles line is about 4.5 miles long, and operates mostly in a park-like median strip, as it has for decades. It touches the French Quarter at its Canal Street terminal loop, and traverses commercial, residential, and medical/educational venues. It is a heavily used transit line, frequented as much by residents and commuters as by tourists.

The Riverfront line runs for about 2 miles on old freight railroad tracks along the river, and along the edge of the French Quarter. It links almost every major downtown attraction, and has exceeded ridership expectations from its first day.

Both lines are powered from overhead wire, and use rehabilitated cars originally built for New Orleans in the 1920's. About 35 cars are required for the St. Charles line, and about four for the Riverfront line. Recent construction has resulted in the Riverfront line being re-gauged to match the St. Charles line, and a physical connection being built between them. This allows both to share the St. Charles' maintenance facility. Passenger stops are located about every block on the St. Charles line, somewhat farther apart on the Riverfront line. Both lines are in the process of becoming accessible.


Both lines run daily all year round. Service on the St. Charles line is frequent, with headways down to five minutes or less. Riverfront service is slightly less, but still frequent. In calendar year 1999, the two lines carried nearly 5 million passengers, or about 15,000 per day.


Both lines are owned and operated by the Regional Transit Authority.

Operating Costs and Funding:

The RTA funds the operating costs.

Capital Costs and Funding:

RTA handles capital costs using traditional sources.

System Benefits:

In addition to providing a heavily used transit link, the St. Charles line is a key urban design element of the area it serves. As a National Landmark, the line is to New Orleans what the cable cars are to San Francisco, and is loved and cherished by residents and visitors alike. The Riverfront line provides a link for tourists and visitors among the many attractions along the riverfront.

System Issues and Problems:

No significant issues were reported.


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