Dedicated Lane on North Rampart at Issue
The New Orleans City Council favors creating a dedicated lane for Regional Transit Authority [RTA] streetcars on the proposed Rampart-St. Claude-Elysian Fields car line, the Times-Picayune reports.
The RTA has announced plans to give the new streetcar the right-of-way during peak traffic hours but not all day. Some councillors favor making the lane transit-only on a permanent basis, but Mayor Mitch Landrieu's staff references a traffic study that says dedicating a lane full-time to streetcars would cause severe auto traffic jams.
The nonprofit group Ride New Orleans, which has been organizing community discussion on the streetcar expansion for the past two years, adds its voice of criticism to the study, citing a disclaimer that mentions the traffic modeling software is not designed to model a dedicated transit lane, instead yielding only a "general overview of delay and congestion."
Proponents of a dedicated lane feel the new streetcar line will need to have clear rights of way wherever possible to provide the fastest and most reliable service for neighborhood residents.
Loyola Line Gaining Ridership
The new Loyola Avenue streetcar branch to Union Passenger Terminal in New Orleans is drawing ridership, according to The Advocate of Baton Rouge. The line received $45 million in federal capital funding which covered most of the $53 million construction cost. Between the line's pre-Super Bowl opening on January 28 and several weeks later on March 10, the Loyola Ave. route carried 52,878 riders.
In February, there were 35,030 riders, or a daily average of 1,400. Ridership in this period is likely inflated by the Super Bowl then Mardi Gras several weeks later. The route will become more significant when it is linked to the Rampart-St. Claude-Elysian Fields car line to the French Quarter now in the planning stage and as planned construction along the line takes place.
The funding application filed by the RTA in September 2009 estimated ridership would be at 2,410 daily by the end of the first year in service.