Mass Transit in New Orleans
If you’re coming to New Orleans from a place that has mass transit down to a science (D.C., Boston and New York come to mind), you’ll probably be a little disappointed in the transit system you’ll find here in NOLA.
We’re excellent at music, food and entertainment, but getting you from one place to another via public transit? Not so much.
With a mix of streetcar lines, buses and ferry service, New Orleans Regional Transportation Authority (RTA to the locals) has improved their performance over the last few years, but often still falls a bit short.
Streetcars are slow moving and tend to be packed with tourists, so counting on them for your daily commute is a crapshoot. Bus service is not much better, although the timeliness seems to depend on the line. I hear great things about the Magazine Street route which runs every 20 minutes and can take you from Audubon Zoo all the way downtown, but service in more outlying areas can be very sporadic and slow.
For example, the Algiers Local, on the West Bank, takes almost an hour to make it’s scheduled trek through Algiers to the Canal Street Ferry Landing. In a car or a cab? It’s about a 10-15 minute drive.
The ferries are usually on schedule, but weather and mechanical breakdowns can lead to their cancellation with no notice.
When you begin to wonder why some neighborhoods are higher priced than others, consider their proximity to downtown and the French Quarter. Being able to walk to work or dinner, or having the convenience of grabbing a pedi-cab for a short commute is a trade off for the higher real estate values and central locations.