The ferry situation:

We need to keep our ferries but get rid of the tolls.

All of the other ferries operating across Louisiana are currently funded by the DOTD except for the ferries in the New Orleans area, which are now paid for with money from the bridge tolls. Here is a list:

Ferry Location/Name

Funding

Vehicles/Year

Cost/Year

Chalmette-Lower Algiers

CCC Bridge Tolls

479,174

3.2

Plaquemines Sunshine

DOTD

318,127

2.1

New Roads St Francisville

DOTD

197,289

1.9

Cameron

DOTD

197,289

2.4

Algiers - Canal St

CCC Bridge Tolls

134,396

2.8

Duty - Enterprise

DOTD

44,818

0.6

White Castle

DOTD

21,008

0.8

Gretna Canal St

CCC Bridge Tolls

10,013

2.1

Melville

DOTD

6,325

0.6

Edgard - Reserve

DOTD

n/a

1.2

Why are the DOTD and our state legislators trying to tell us that if the tolls are allowed to expire in 2012 that the ferries will go away??? Is this because the Louisiana DOTD can’t afford to pay for the ferries?

Not true. The DOTD has an annual operating budget of $2.3 Billion. So it’s not true they can’t afford it – and until our state legislators decided to take our toll money and start paying for the ferries (along with paying for a whole bunch of other pet projects), the DOTD had always paid for the New Orleans ferries (like they do now for every other ferry in the state).

The truth is that more than enough tax revenues come into the state coffers from New Orleans to justify the DOTD paying for our ferries again like they used to. Read the BGR report for yourself and you will see that the DOTD can easily afford to pay for the New Orleans ferries. And they should.

Another disturbing fact is that ferries in New Orleans as operated by the DOTD have some of the highest operating costs per passenger in the entire United States. This tells me that the ferry operations aren’t being managed properly or run efficiently. With such high operating costs one would think, that our ferries and terminals would be first class, top of the line facilities. This is not true at all.

Our current ferries are old, worn out jalopies, which break down constantly and incur high maintenance costs. The ferry terminals themselves are antiquated, dirty, stinky, scary, and deplorable. The DOTD should be ashamed over the way the ferries are operated and I am embarassed to bring out of town guests to the horribly maintained terminals. This sad situation reflects poorly on a city whose economy is driven mostly by is tourism.

Our ferries and terminals need to be modernized and renovated so we can encourage tourists staying in our downtown hotels to take a nice ferry ride across the mighty Mississippi and visit the historic community of Algiers. What a great way for visitors to take a walking tour of a beautiful, charming community and experience an authentic Old New Orleans neighborhood (and spend money there too). Having clean, modern ferries and terminals would allow this and is an investment in our core industry - there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be this way.

The Algiers->Canal Street ferry should be changed to “pedestrian only” which will reduce operating costs tremendously (and allow for more frequent trips). If you live in Algiers and you need to drive to downtown New Orleans, then please feel free to use the Crescent City Connection. These modern bridges were built at great cost and are only 10 minutes away from you. Using the Algiers ferry to shuttle autos across the river to Canal St while two high capacity bridges are right next-door just doesn’t make any sense at all, especially when you are spending 9 Million dollars per year doing it.

Going “pedestrian only” on the Algiers->Canal St ferry will also eliminate the all of the dangerous automotive traffic coming out of the ferry terminal at the foot of Canal Street near the Aquarium, Riverwalk, Convention Center, and the Harrah’s Casino – there’s simply too much tourist pedestrian traffic right there to have all those cars coming off the ferry and driving through that congested area.

The ferries should also charge at least $1 per one-way trip instead of being totally free like they are now. This alone will generate millions per year in much needed income to help pay for the ferries.

Believe me, a buck to cross the river isn’t exorbitant or excessive at all - I was in San Francisco recently and riding the trolley car there costs $5 one way. We could combine this $1 ferry fee with a RTA bus or streetcar transfer making the ferries part of our urban mass transit system – and keep Algiers connected to New Orleans via public transportation.

We need to keep our ferries but get rid of the tolls.

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