- They’re RED!
OK, I know a lot of people grew up with the green arch roof streetcars that run on the St. Charles line. There’s a story (never officially confirmed, of course) that the manager of the NORTA Rail Department at the time of the Riverfront and Canal projects, Elmer Von Dullen, wanted to paint the new streetcars blue, and then-Mayor Marc Morial countermanded it, wanting them to be painted red. Again, I’ve never been able to confirm this. It could be the color decision was part of a marketing strategy. No matter, the red works. For that matter, the blue would have worked as well, brightening up Canal on sunny days.
- They look old-style, but are very-modern hybrids.
If you look past the faux-monitor deck on top, you’ll see that the 2000-series streetcars have the same arch roof design as the 1923-vintage 900-series and the 1998-vintage 400-series Riverfront streetcars. The body is as close to the old 800s and 900s manufactured by the Perley A. Thomas Company as one can get, within the constraints of modern construction and design requirements. The propulsion and controls are that of a modern Light Rail Vehicle (LRV), offering a smooth, safe, modern ride.
- The interiors are a throw-back experience.
The interior and seats of both the 2000s and the 400s follow the design of the 900s. While the 2000s do not have the bare-bulb lighting of the 900s and the 400s, the seats are wood and swing back-and-forth, so you can change the way you face on the inbound and outbound runs.
- They’re accessible.
There are wheelchair lifts on either side of the 2000s. This is a Very Big Deal, because the New Orleans transit system is horrid when it comes to access. Sure, there’s the “paratransit” program that barely keeps NORTA from being sued by accessibility advocates, but at least someone in a wheelchair can use the Von Dullens.
What really needs to happen is NORTA should modernize all streetcars in the city to modern LRVs what offer real wheelchair/disability access, but that would mean pulling the green streetcars from the St. Charles line, and that’s a non-starter for most folks.
- They make it easy to get into town from #themetrys.
Park around the cemeteries, ride the 4.3 miles into town. No downtown parking hassles. If the Veterans Bus (Jefferson Transit E1 line) is convenient for you, it’s possible to ride all the way into the Quarter from Far West Metry. That’s significant for those who would like to imbibe a cocktail or four with lunch at Antoine’s.
Ride a red streetcar. Enjoy the view as Canal Street transforms from the cemeteries to Mid City to Treme, to the CBD. Spend some time in the Quarter or downtown and ride back. Great day outing!