RTA to maintain current ferry service operations in 2024
- December 14th, 2023
NEW ORLEANS – Today, the RTA received a letter of intent from the City of New Orleans outlining its commitment to identify a funding source for the $3 million required to maintain current service levels in 2024. The letter of intent will enable RTA to continue operating its ferry service Sunday – Thursday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., as well as Friday and Saturdays from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
“Securing this funding is not just about dollars; it's about enhancing the very fabric of connectivity within our communities,” said RTA CEO Lona Edwards Hankins. “We are deeply grateful to State Sen. Gary Carter and the New Orleans Delegation, U.S. Rep. Troy Carter and to Mayor Cantrell for their support, which underscores an unwavering commitment to serving the needs of those who rely on us for seamless, reliable ferry service."
The RTA served 395,124 passengers on the Canal Street – Algiers Point Ferry service in 2022, accounting for 1,083 average daily riders. Through Oct. 31, 2023, the RTA served 419,687 or 1,381 average daily riders. Since the removal of the tolls on the Cresent City Connection in 2013, ferry service has been grossly underfunded. Prior to the RTA transitioning to a public agency, the ferry operated at a loss and deferred critical maintenance to operate. Since 2020, the RTA was able to use COVID-19 recovery funding to bridge the gap, but those funds are no longer available after 2023.
The general purpose of the financial agreements between RTA and the City are as follows:
- The City will identify a funding source for the $3,000,000 required to maintain service levels within a reasonable time.
- The RTA and the City will enter into a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement (CEA) to facilitate the transfer of funds between the two public entities as required by law.
- The RTA and its contracted ferry operator will plan to continue the current service levels throughout 2024.
- The RTA and the City will continue their coordinated efforts to identify long-term operating funding sources to maintain ferry service beyond 2024.
"As a city, we recognize the pivotal role transportation plays in the lives of our residents,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “This funding commitment into our transit agency marks a significant stride toward maintaining connectivity and overall quality of life for our community members.”
RTA began 2023 with a projected $19.8 million shortfall for 2024. As a cost-saving measure, the agency removed the second Chalmette ferry vessel from service to avoid $6 million in repair costs scheduled for next year. The agency also received $10 million from the state legislature in House Bill 1 to partially cover the cost of Canal Street – Algiers Point Ferry and Lower Algiers-Chalmette ferry service. The $3 million from the City of New Orleans will fill the remaining gap.
RTA remains committed to delivering excellence in transit services and to working with local and state partners to secure long-term funding to maintain this service at current levels.
The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority is a political subdivision of the State of Louisiana which is operated by an independent Board of Commissioners that serves Orleans, Jefferson and St. Bernard parishes. The agency operates car and passenger ferries, fixed-route buses, paratransit, streetcar, and limited on-demand service.