With an unexpected show of support, residents of Algiers and New Orleans celebrated a decision by the New Orleans City Council to start charging fares for the ferry service from Algiers to New Orleans and Algiers to Chalmette. Since voters re-voted to rid the Crescent City Connection of toll charges back in May, funding for the ferry boats was turned over to the State Department of Transportation. However, because of a bill signed into law by Governor Jindal in June, 2012, money from the CCC’s tolls were not allowed to be used to fund the ferrys anymore making the voter’s decision a moot point. This was a death knell for the extended ferry hours enjoyed by residents on both sides of the river. Ferry hours were slashed, leaving workers, residents, socializers stuck without transportation after 7pm at night in July of this year.
Galvanized, West Bank residents held several meetings, and while they were doing that the responsibility of the ferry operations changed hands again when it was transferred to the Regional Transit Authority (RTA). RTA turned around and “sold” the ferry services to Veolia Transportation Services, the French company that already runs the city’s bus and streetcar lines. One resident in Algiers said that they actually were “begging for the city to take their money.” Also, Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer, whose district includes Algiers said, “This is not a choice of fares or no fares. This is a choice of ferries or no ferries. It’s as simple as that.” The residents of Algiers strong opposed the restricted hours, and the businesses on both the West Bank and the Southshore suffered a reduction in business because of the reduced ferry traffic.
Deciding that something had to be done, the New Orleans City Council voted unanimously Thursday to increase the fares for Mississippi River crossings between Algiers and either downtown New Orleans or Chalmette. Most passengers will have to shell out $2 each way starting Oct. 1. The pedestrian and vehicle ferry fees are designed to cover the shortfall of $2.8 million in funding that is needed to keep all ferry operations afloat. The other $6 million required to run the services is provided by federal and state subsidies. So, while the ferry fares are new and unfamiliar to some residents and tourists, those who live on the West Bank and work in New Orleans (or vice versa), welcome the opportunity to see the ferries running again 18 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The charges for the two ferry lines will be as follows:
Algiers Point – Canal Street line
• $2 each way, $4 round trip, for every walk-on ferry passenger, car driver, car passenger and cyclist. No extra charge for bicycles.
• $1 each way, $2 round trip, for each passenger who is disabled, a senior citizen or a Medicare patient.
• $7 for a daily pass for combined ferry, bus and streetcar services.
• $30 for a five-day pass for combined ferry, bus and streetcar services.
• $105 for a monthly pass for combined ferry, bus and streetcar services.
• $18 for a five-day pass for ferry service only.
• $65 for a monthly pass for ferry service only (reduced from an initial proposal of $75).
• No charge for children 2 years old or younger.
• Special, to-be-determined rates could apply during major events, such as French Quarter Fest or the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
Lower Algiers – Chalmette line
• $2 each way, $4 round trip, for every walk-on ferry passenger and car driver.
• $1 each way, $2 round trip, for every walk-on passenger who is disabled, a senior citizen or a Medicare patient.
• $1 each way for every passenger in a vehicle beyond the driver.
• No charge for car passengers who are disabled, senior citizens or Medicare patients.
• $3 each way for a trailer.