After Months of No Service, the Algiers Ferry is Back

Photo credit: Jenn Bentley

After months of no service, the RTA’s Algiers ferry is finally back. Service resumed on Monday thanks to a new deal between the RTA and Labmar Ferry Services. Under the new agreement, RTA will pay Labmar around $6 million to take over the daily ferry maintenance and operations.

“This was the necessary and appropriate step to ensuring our residents ave the ferry service they deserve,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “Now we are focused on getting our new boats officially in the water, and we continue to do our due diligence to ensure they are safe and ready to go. I want to commend the RTA for their leadership in securing the ferry charter service as an interim step, and their dedication to this issue.”

The RTA ferry service between Canal and Algiers has been out of commission since September 15, when both of the passenger ferries the RTA had been using were taken out of service. Two new boats commissioned by the RTA to replace the older ferries failed to pass U.S. Coast Guard inspections and were forced to sit idle, creating transit headaches for many of the city’s commuters. Whereas a ferry ride from the West Bank takes around five minutes, the bus service is far slower, at times taking an hour or more.

“It’s not even a comparison,” Chris Sercovich told The Advocate/Times-Picayune. “It’s comparing apples and rotten fruit.”

Many have expressed frustration at the failure of the RTA to get the new ferries working – especially considering the combined $10 million the RTA agreed to pay for them in 2017. “We have $10 million that is being misspent, and I think that anyone paying taxes is disturbed,” Said University of New Orleans professor and Algiers Point Association vice president Skip Gallagher. Gallager recently filed a lawsuit against the TRA and Transdev, the company that runs the ferries, buses, and streetcars for the RTA.

Business owners in Algiers Point were particularly hard hit. Without the ferry service providing a quick, easy, and unique trip across the Mississippi River, many tourists simply skipped visiting the West Bank. Some business owners reported as much as a 90 percent drop in sales during what is usually the busy holiday shopping season.

“Tremendous impact on the business,” Ronald Casey, owner of the Dry Dock Cafe told Fox 8 News. “I’ve cut hours, laid people off and the overall sales are down $30,000 for a two-month period,” Casey said.

City Councilwoman Kristin Giselson Palmer, the City Council representative for the Algiers community, says that her office has been working with the RTA and the New Orleans Business Alliance to try to secure small business assistance grants to help offset some of those losses.

As of Monday, December 16, the ferry service between Canal and Algiers was officially restored. The RTA Board awarded the ferry contract to Labmar during a special meeting last week.

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