The Algiers Point and Gretna ferries will lose their funding in June 2013, and ferry service is in danger of being drastically reduced or cut altogether.
Ferries have been in operation in our region since the 1830s. In 2012, the State legislature voted to strip the ferries of their dedicated funding source by prohibiting any future toll monies collected on the Crescent City Connection twin span bridge from funding the ferries. With toll funding no longer available for the ferries, the State Legislature failed to provide other funding mechanisms for maintaining ferry service.
The Mississippi River is what defines our region, economy and landscape. It also poses a significant barrier between our east and west bank neighborhoods. The Crescent City Connection twin span bridge provides cross-river access for vehicles but no accommodations for pedestrians or cyclists.
Fortunately, the ferries have been able to fill that that gap. The Algiers Point ferry serves 1.1 million pedestrian passengers and 175,000 vehicle passengers per year providing early morning and late evening service. The Gretna ferry also provides a critical service; however, ridership is less readily available due to infrequent service operations in recent years.
While the RTA does provide bus service across the river, connecting from the Algiers Point ferry terminal to the Canal Street ferry terminal requires riders to transfer between two buses and a streetcar – but only until 9pm – making for a long and difficult trip. Making the trip from the Gretna ferry terminal to the Canal Street ferry terminal is not possible with the current bus service offered by JeT.
With more affordable housing options available on the west bank and job opportunities clustered on the east bank in the CBD and French Quarter, ensuring continued ferry service is critical.
Our regional ferries are operated and maintained by the State Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD). The Regional Planning Commission (RPC) provides advisory and oversight to DOTD.
DOTD warns that without the allocation of dedicated funds to support future ferry operations, the Algiers and Gretna ferries will cease operations in July 2013.
The RPC is studying all options to save the ferries – from raising vehicle ferry fares and introducing pedestrian and cyclist ferry fares to using vehicle license registration fees – discussions are on-going but no one clear solution has yet emerged.
The first step of our campaign to save the ferries is to make sure that policy and decision-makers – from the Governor and State Legislature all the way down to our local officials – hear us loud and clear and understand exactly who will be impacted by the loss of the ferries. We have developed a survey for ferry riders, and we will spend all day riding the ferries with volunteers on Saturday, April 6 and Tuesday, April 9.
With your help, Ride New Orleans is launching a campaign to:
For the ferries,