Three Streetcar Lines

The New Orleans part of this website is structured differently from all the other sections.  The nightmare that was Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath left much of the transportation network severely damaged.   I have chosen to keep the sections as they were from before the storm, one each for the St. Charles, the Riverfront and the Canal Streetcar.  The same pertains to the image on this main page, and to the regular text below.  This, in my own way, is a tribute to the history of this entirely fascinating and extraordinarily complex place.  Much of the information in those pages, of course, has now changed.  A separate Post-Katrina series shows the lines as they were in 2007, long after the storm.

The historic St. Charles cars survived intact, but that route sustained great harm.  It took several years to restore the entire length.  On the other two lines, the red heritage-style vehicles, then relatively new, suffered extensive flood damage; they were destined to be out of service for more than three years.  The first group of repaired cars returned to service late in 2008.

The New Orleans streetcar system consists of three lines, one very historic, and the other two of much more recent design.  The St. Charles Streetcar is the oldest continuously operating street railroad in the world.  The Riverfront Streetcar came about more than a century and a half later, in 1988, and added a route that serves many tourist or visitor-oriented destinations near the Mississippi River.  And after decades of absence the Canal Streetcar route was reconstructed and put in service in 2004.

This photo was taken along Canal St., looking toward the river.  The green St. Charles cars utilize this wide artery for one block on a loop at the inbound end of the route.   Three of the carefully reproduced red units of the Canal Streetcar are in view.

The streetcars, as well as the city's extensive bus system, are operated by New Orleans Regional Transit Authority, the RTA.