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New Orleans - January 2000
   

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New Orleans – Streetcars Back On Canal

Rail Transit Online, January 2000

Trolley service began running Dec. 6 on Canal Street for the first time in 35 years – but it’s only a shadow of what Regional Transit Authority officials are planning. The line covers just six blocks using the new connection between the St. Charles and Riverfront lines, but it’s the first step in long-planned restoration of 4.1 miles from the foot of Canal Street to the cemeteries. That $153 million project has been stalled by lack of $25 million in local matching funds. “We remain optimistic that ultimately this will get done,” RTA Board Chairman Robert Tucker told the Times-Picayune. “But the reality of the situation is we still must resolve the issue of the local match.” A decision could come from a lawsuit due for trial on Jan. 6 in which the RTA seeks to collect a one percent sales tax on hotels and motels. The levy is opposed by the hospitality industry on grounds that it will dampen tourism and that it’s illegal, based on a 1985 tax law that the hotels contend provides them with an exemption. The RTA insists there is no exemption and that the $6 million in annual tax revenue is the best source of local matching funds for the Canal project and other LRT proposals. Meanwhile, the Canal Street stub operates daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. as a loop between the foot of Canal Street and Baronne Street. The fare is only 25 cents and the rolling stock is a newly built, near-replica of the historic Perley Thomas cars used on St. Charles but with air conditioning and handicapped access. Initially proposed as a 90-day demonstration, RTA officials now plan to ask City Council for permission to continue running the service indefinitely.

 

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