New Orleans has four active streetcar lines:
More lines are at the planning stage, and one is under construction in the French quarter, in approximate prolongation to the new section of the Loyola Avenue line, to begin service in 2015.
The city's streetcars were also featured in the Tennessee Williams play, A Streetcar Named Desire. The streetcar line to Desire Street became a bus line in 1948. There are proposals to revive a Desire streetcar line, running along the neutral grounds of North Rampart and St. Claude, as far downriver as Poland Avenue, near the Industrial Canal.
Hurricane Katrina destroyed the power lines supplying the St. Charles Avenue line. The associated levee failures flooded the Mid-City facility storing the red streetcars which normally run on the Riverfront and Canal Street lines. Restoration of service has been gradual, with vintage St. Charles line cars running on the Riverfront and Canal lines until the more modern Czech-built red cars are back in service; they are being individually restored at the RTA's facility between Willow and Jeannette streets in the Carrollton neighborhood. On December 23, 2007, streetcars were restored to running on the St. Charles line up to Carrolton Avenue. The much-anticipated re-opening of the second portion of the historic route, which continues until the intersection of Carrolton Avenue and Claiborne Avenue, was commemorated on June 28, 2008.
The city's flat landscape, simple street grid, and mild winters, facilitate bicycle ridership, helping to make New Orleans eighth among U.S. cities in its rate of bicycle and pedestrian transportation, and sixth in terms of the percentage of bicycling commuters. The city's bicyclists benefit from being located at the start of the Mississippi River Trail, a bicycle path that stretches from the city's Audubon Park to Minnesota. The first of the path, through Destrehan, is paved with a smooth macadam surface. Bicyclists looking to cross the river have free access to the city's ferries. Since the 2005 levee-breach, the city has actively sought to promote bicycling by constructing a $1.5 million bike trail from Mid-City to Lake Pontchartrain, and by adding over of bicycle lanes to various streets, including St. Charles Avenue. In 2009, Tulane University contributed to these efforts by converting the main street through its Uptown campus, McAlister Place, into a pedestrian mall opened to bicycle traffic. In 2010, work began to add a bicycle corridor from the French Quarter to Lakeview, and of additional bike lanes on existing streets. New Orleans has also been recognized as a place with an abundance of uniquely decorated and uniquely designed bicycles.
Public transportation in the city is operated by the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority ("RTA"). There are many bus routes connecting the city and suburban areas. The RTA lost 200+ buses due to Hurricane Katrina, this would mean that there would be a 30–60 minute waiting period for the next bus to come to the bus stop, and the streetcars took until 2008 to return, so the RTA placed an order for 38 Orion VII Next Generation clean diesel buses, which arrived in July 2008. The RTA has these new buses running on biodiesel. The Jefferson Parish Department of Transit Administration operates Jefferson Transit, which provides service between the city and its suburbs.
New Orleans is served by Interstate 10, Interstate 610 and Interstate 510. I-10 travels east-west through the city as the Pontchartrain Expressway. In the far eastern part of the city, New Orleans East, it is known as the Eastern Expressway. I-610 provides a direct shortcut for traffic passing through New Orleans via I-10, allowing that traffic to bypass I-10's southward curve. In the future, New Orleans will have another interstate highway, Interstate 49, which will be extended from its current terminus in Lafayette to the city.
New Orleans is home to many bridges, the Crescent City Connection is perhaps the most notable. It serves as New Orleans' major bridge across the Mississippi River, providing a connection between the city's downtown on the eastbank and its westbank suburbs. Other bridges that cross the Mississippi River in the New Orleans area are the Huey P. Long Bridge, over which U.S. 90 travels, and the Hale Boggs Memorial Bridge, which carries Interstate 310.
The Twin Span Bridge, a five-mile (8 km) causeway in eastern New Orleans, carries I-10 across Lake Pontchartrain. Also in eastern New Orleans, Interstate 510/LA 47 travels across the Intracoastal Waterway/Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet Canal via the Paris Road Bridge, connecting New Orleans East and suburban Chalmette.
The tolled Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, consisting of two parallel bridges are, at long, the longest bridges in the world. Built in the 1950s (southbound span) and 1960s (northbound span), the bridges connect New Orleans with its suburbs on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain via Metairie.
The metropolitan area is served by the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, located in the suburb of Kenner. New Orleans also has several regional airports located throughout the metropolitan area. These include the Lakefront Airport, Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans (locally known as Callendar Field) in the suburb of Belle Chasse and "Southern Seaplane", also located in Belle Chasse. Southern Seaplane has a runway for wheeled planes and a water runway for seaplanes. New Orleans International suffered some damage as a result of Hurricane Katrina, but as of April 2007, it contained the most traffic and is the busiest airport in the state of Louisiana and the sixth busiest in the Southeast.
The city is served by rail via Amtrak. The New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal is the central rail depot, and is served by three trains: the Crescent, operating between New Orleans and New York City; the City of New Orleans, operating between New Orleans and Chicago; and the Sunset Limited, operating through New Orleans between Orlando and Los Angeles. From late August 2005 to the present, the Sunset Limited has remained officially an Orlando-to-Los Angeles train, being considered temporarily truncated due to the lingering effects of Hurricane Katrina. At first (until late October 2005) it was truncated to a San Antonio-to-Los Angeles service; since then (from late October 2005 on) it has been truncated to a New Orleans-to-Los Angeles service. As time has passed, particularly since the January 2006 completion of the rebuilding of damaged tracks east of New Orleans by their owner, CSX Transportation, the obstacles to restoration of the Sunset Limited's full route have been more managerial and political than physical.
With the strategic benefits of both a major international port and one of the few double-track Mississippi River crossings, the city is served by six of the seven Class I railroads in North America: Union Pacific Railroad, BNSF Railway, Norfolk Southern Railway, Kansas City Southern Railway, CSX Transportation and Canadian National Railway. The New Orleans Public Belt Railroad provides interchange services between the railroads.
Recently, many have proposed extending New Orleans' public transit system by adding light rail routes from downtown, along Airline Highway through the airport to Baton Rouge and from downtown to Slidell and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Proponents of this idea claim that these new routes would boost the region's economy, which has been badly damaged by Hurricane Katrina, and serve as an evacuation option for hospital patients out of the city.
The Canal Street Ferry connects the heart of New Orleans with the neighborhood of Algiers Point on the other side of the Mississippi River. The Canal Street/Gretna Ferry services Gretna, Louisiana through a separate route. This service has been in continuous operation since 1827 and runs from 6 am until midnight. The Gretna Ferry is free in both directions, although it serves pedestrians and bicyclists only.
The Algiers Ferry services passenger vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians; cyclists and pedestrians ride the for free in both directions. Vehicles are free from Canal Street to Algiers, but there is a $1 fee when traveling from Algiers to Canal Street.
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