Hurricane Katrina and the flooding that followed
knocked out all public transportation in New Orleans for weeks. The streetcar system, which consists of three lines,
suffered a major hit. The historic Perley Thomas cars, such as
the one pictured here, survived intact, but the route they traveled, St. Charles,
sustained major storm damage. The entire fleet of newer red replica
plied the other two lines, Riverfront and Canal Streetcars, sustained
severe flood damage. All of those cars were destined to be out of service for
more than three years.
By the end of 2005 rail service, utilizing the Perley Thomas
vehicles, was running on the Riverfront route,
and on a portion of the Canal. Both lines were returned to
their pre-storm lengths, still using the historic streetcars.
Toward the end of 2008 the first batch of red replica units, fully
repaired, returned to service on both routes.
The St. Charles line was
completely out for well over a year after the storm. Buses
initially ran the full route, as the city struggled to regain its
core services . A short rail
segment from the downtown end opened in December, 2006. The
next year brought two further segments added back in, first to
Napoleon Ave., and then out to the Riverbend. Each extension was greeted with civic pride, and
with hopes for the future. The line was restored to its full
former length in mid-2008.
The rather classic view on this page is from along St. Charles Ave. in the
Uptown neighborhood, and
shows an inbound run on its "neutral ground" right of way.
The city's streetcars, as well as its
bus system, are operated by the New Orleans Regional Transit
Authority, usually shortened to NORTA or RTA.