NEW ORLEANS WILL Anticipate Streetcar Expansion

New Orleans may be brimming with history, but on a global scale it’s hardly ancient. However, there’s one area where we hold the “world’s oldest” record: The St. Charles Streetcar line is the oldest continuously operating streetcar line on the planet! Furthermore, each and every car operating on that line is a historic landmark, manufactured during the 1920s and remaining in pristine condition since then.

In recent years, the streetcar line has seen a multitude of renovations that still retain the historic New Orleans look and feel of the cars.

The Cars

Whether green or red, every car is quintessentially New Orleans. The city has 156 cars in total: 52 cars are a 1923 original design, and the remaining two-thirds are replicas of that design. The replicas are in red to set them apart, contrasting the deep green of the originals that run along St. Charles.


A refurbished streetcar makes its way down Canal Street. (Photo courtesy Matt Johnson on Flickr)

The Line

Historically, 24 different lines traversed the city down almost any major road you can think of: Poydras, Magazine, Esplanade, Prytania, and Carondelet, to name a few. Eventually transitioning into bus routes, the New Orleans streetcar today features four lines, including St. Charles, Canal, Riverfront, and Loyola-UPT (Union Passenger Terminal). To gear up for the 2013 Super Bowl, the city invested more than $1 billion in infrastructure improvements, including the Loyola-UPT line and major upgrades to the St. Charles line.

The Future

The streetcars are a moveable piece of history, creating a lasting legacy of New Orleans as they roll underneath the oaks of St. Charles and the palm trees of Canal. The streetcars, however, are looking toward the future, too. One of the most buzzed-about updates is the North Rampart Street/St. Claude Avenue streetcar project.

This new line will run from Elysian Fields Avenue and connect to the Canal and UPT lines. The cars will run in the left travel lane rather than the neutral ground and stop six times as they make their way up North Rampart and St. Claude.

The line will offer not only transportation for visitors looking to scope out another part of the city, but also – most important – a new mode of travel for residents in the area, many of whom work downtown in the hospitality industry. This addition shows that transportation has a direct effect on employment opportunities. The construction will likely be completed in early 2016 – check the RTA’s website for more details on this exciting development.