Streetcars in New Orleans
Getting around New Orleans by streetcar is a great way to see the city. There are three different lines: St. Charles, Canal Street, and the Riverfront, each of which originates downtown but takes you different parts of the city.
Streetcars in New Orleans offer $1.25 fares and can be paid with exact change when you board. 1, 3, and 31-day unlimited ride Jazzy Passes are also available for $3, $9 and $55 respectively. See the Regional Transit Authority (RTA)'s website for a list of places to purchase these. Please note that passes are non-refundable and non-replaceable.
Fares listed above and routes and schedules listed below are subject to change - check directly with the RTA directly for the latest information.
The St. Charles Line
All aboard for a trip into New Orleans' past on the oldest continuously operating streetcar in the world! The mahogany seats, brass fittings and exposed ceiling light bulbs are from a day when plastic seats and aluminum rails were not even a thought. Rumbling around the ''neutral ground'' of St. Charles Avenue and Carrollton Avenue for more than 150 years, the streetcar symbolizes the charm and romance of the City of New Orleans.
The route traditionally forms a 13.2-mile crescent from Carondelet at Canal Street in the Central Business District through the oldest and most majestic section of uptown New Orleans, around the Riverbend to Carrollton at Claiborne Avenue. Swaying along St. Charles Avenue through a tunnel Live Oaks, the streetcar passes dozens of antebellum mansions, historic monuments, Loyola and Tulane universities, the sweeping grounds of the Audubon Zoological Gardens, shopping centers, fine restaurants and hotels.
The St. Charles Streetcar Line will be under preventative maintenance construction from May 31- September 5, 2015. RTA will provide free bus transfer along this impacted stretch of St. Charles Avenue. Be sure to check the latest update on the streetcar schedule before your trip by visiting the RTA website.
The Canal Street Line
It’s been 40 years since the Canal Streetcar rumbled down the business district of the city, but this local treasure began revenue service, April 18, 2004.
The new Canal Streetcar takes thousands of locals and tourists to work and play each day as it travels the five-and-a-half mile route from the French Market, along Canal Street through the Central Business District of New Orleans and into the Mid-City area. The line ends at City Park Avenue and the historic city cemeteries.
A spur line along North Carrollton Avenue connects Canal Street to City Park at Beauregard Circle, where riders can enjoy a 1500-acre urban Eden filled with centuries-old oak trees, an elegant botanical garden, a charming storybook village, and a host of family activities. To take this spur, hop on any of the Canal Streetcars that say CITY PARK/MUSEUM on the front window sign above the conductor.
The final stop on the City Park spur is the majestic New Orleans Museum of Art, where visitors can see one of the finest art museums in the country and magnificent Sydney and Walda Bestoff Sculpture Garden. And only blocks away are the City Park Festival Grounds, and the historic Fairgrounds Race Track, with its fabulous horse races and the annual spring time rite of passage, the Jazz and Heritage Festival. Also visit Pitot House, a 1799 plantation home on Bayou St. John. The Canal Streetcar costs $1.25 each way and is air-conditioned as well as wheelchair accessible ADA compliant.
The Riverfront Line
Hop aboard! Let the Riverfront Streetcar take you to New Orleans' most exciting attractions. From the quaint shops of the French Market to the new Aquarium of the Americas and beyond, shopping, dining and sightseeing are just a streetcar ride away. The Riverfront Line also passes by the famous Riverwalk Marketplace, shops at Canal Place, and Harrah’s Casino. Inaugurated August 14, 1988, as the Riverfront Streetcar line, it is the first to open in New Orleans since 1926, when more than 200 miles of street railway crisscrossed the city. Long a dream of developers, business people and streetcar enthusiasts, the Riverfront Streetcar line is the first major capital project in New Orleans that combines the resources of the public and private sectors. Plans for the development of a riverfront line began in 1986 with a joint application by the Regional Transit Authority, the Riverfront Transit Coalition Group, Inc. and the City of New Orleans to the Federal Transit Administration, an office of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Further financial support came from the Downtown Development District and the French Market Corporation.
The most recent addition to the growing New Orleans streetcar network is the 1.6 mile Loyola Avenue/Union Passenger Terminal loop that opened in 2013. For passengers arriving in the city by surface transportation, either by Greyhound bus or Amtrak trains, the Loyola line will enable them to get from the station to Canal Street and the French Quarter where the city's major hotels are located.
The streetcars running along the Loyola loop are of more modern vintage than those running along the St. Charles Avenue route and they have more conveniences than the earlier Perley Thomas models. They are fully air-conditioned with wider doors that allow for handicap access.
From Union Passenger Terminal, the Loyola Streetcar's first stop is at Julia Street, the major corridor of the city's Arts Warehouse District. Also at this stop is the city's main post office. The next stop is at Poydras Street, the site of New Orleans' City Hall and the center of the city's Financial District. The third and final stop before reaching Canal Street is at Tulane Avenue, the hub of the city's Medical District and site of the New Orleans Public Library. At Canal Street passengers can transfer to other streetcars in the city's network, including those that run along Canal Street, St. Charles Avenue and the Mississippi Riverfront.
History of the Streetcar
In New Orleans, we call our vintage electric rail vehicles streetcars - never trolleys. No one knows exactly why or when New Orleanians made the distinction; in most places the terms are used interchangeably. The most likely reason for the distinction is the pride that New Orleanians take in being the first city west of the Allegheny Mountains to implement passenger rail service. ''Streetcars'' rolled through New Orleans for more than 60 years before the ''trolley'', a device that transmits electric current to the motors, was used to power them.
Six vintage streetcars operate along the popular Riverfront line. Three were built by the Perley A. Thomas Company in 1923-24. Once part of the New Orleans Public Service, Inc. (NOPSI) rolling stock, they were donated or sold to museums when the Canal Streetcar line was abandoned in 1964. Perley Thomas cars still run along the city's historic St. Charles line. Two of the Perley Thomas cars on the Riverfront line were purchased by the Bring Our Streetcars Home (BOSH) committee in 1985. The third was found and purchased by the Regional Transit Authority in 1989.
In 1988, The RTA acquired two Australian-made Melbourne W-2 streetcars. They were originally constructed in 1924-25 and were operated by the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. In 1989, an additional Melbourne streetcar was purchased. Because of their wide center doors that open at floor level, W-2 cars were easily adapted for handicapped use.
For fare and route information, visit the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority on the web at www.norta.com.