Express 80 Sunk the Canal Streetcar

Express 80 Sunk the Canal Streetcar

Express 80 bus service made it easy to discontinue streetcar service.

express 80

Express 80 bus in Lakeview (NOPSI photo)

NOPSI’s Express 80

From the late-1960s, riders board a NOPSI bus on the Express 80 route. NOPSI operated this line as an “express” option to its Canal – Lake Vista via Canal Blvd line. The bus, NOPSI 251, is a General Motors “New Looks” bus. They, along with buses from Flxable, replaced the maroon and cream GM “Old Looks” buses, and similar designs from White. The sign at the top front advertises color televisions. The amber lights on either side of the roll board (the route designator) flashed, informing riders this was an express bus rather than the local.

The route

The Canal-Lake Vista and Express 80 lines shared the same basic route:

Outbound

  • Canal Street at Liberty Place
  • Lakebound on Canal Street to City Park Avenue
  • Right on City Park Avenue
  • Immediate left onto Canal Boulevard to Toussaint
  • Right on Allen Toussaint Boulevard to Marconi
  • Left on Marconi Boulevard to Lakeshore Drive
  • Right onto Lakeshore Drive to Beauregard
  • Right on Beauregard Avenue to Toussaint. (Spanish Fort Terminal)

Inbound

  • Right onto Toussaint, heading west to Canal Blvd
  • Left on Canal Blvd to City Park Avenue
  • Right, then left, onto Canal Street
  • Canal Street to Liberty Place

The difference between the local route and Express 80 was that Canal-Lake Vista made every stop along the way. When the outbound Express 80 reached Canal Street and Claiborne Avenue, it didn’t stop again until City Park Avenue. The bus resumed stops from there.

Fares

Riders paid fifteen cents for local bus service at this time. Transfers were free. NOPSI charged an additional nickel for the express lines. When I was a student at Brother Martin High, 1971-1976, I often rode home via Gentilly and Lakeview. We took the Cartier Line (Mirabeau to St. Bernard to Spanish Fort), then Canal-Lake Vista, up to City Park Avenue. I caught the Veterans bus there. Or, if the connections worked. I transferred to the Canal-Lakeshore bus at Canal Blvd and Toussaint. I rode that bus up to the old State Police Troop B station (now the OMV) on Veterans. That’s where I would pick up the Vets bus. When catching either Express 80 or Express 81 (the Lakeshore express), the drivers let me slide on the extra nickel. They knew I was getting off before they went into express service.

Fares in the 1970s went up from fifteen cents to a quarter, with the extra five cents for express.

Sinking the steetcars

How did the express lines help NOPSI discontinue streetcar service on Canal? The Lakeview and West End buses went to the Cemeteries, then turned around. Riders transferred to the green, 1923-vintage arch roof streetcars there. Look at the men in this photo, dressed in business suits. They switched from air-conditioned buses to hot, humid, open-window streetcars. There was no romance of “A Streetcar Named Desire!” So, NOPSI offered them one a/c bus from, say, Harrison Avenue and Canal (or Pontchartrain) into town. That sealed the fate of the Canal line.

Veterans Bus Memories

Veterans Bus Memories

My Veterans Bus memories go back over fifty years.

Jefferson Transit bus operating on the E1 line 16-Aug-2022 Veterans Bus Memories

Veterans Bus Memories

Jefferson Transit bus operating on the E1 line 16-Aug-2022 Veterans Bus Memories

Old and new photos of buses operating on the Veterans Blvd. line. The line, originally operated by Louisiana Transit Company, now Jefferson Transit (JeT), originally ran from Canal Blvd. and City Park Avenue, out to Veterans Blvd. and Loyola Avenue in Kenner. The photos from the 1970s (courtesy of Mike Strauch, the man behind streetcarmike.com) are of General Motors “New Looks” buses operated by Louisiana Transit in the 70s. The newer buses are from 16-August-2022, shot at the Cemeteries Transit Terminal. The Veterans line (now known as the “E1” line services the “new” terminal at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY).

Cartier-Lake Vista-Lakeshore-Vets

MC 320 on the Veterans Memorial line eastbound east of Oaklawn Dr. in the late 1970s. veterans bus memories

MC 320 on the Veterans Memorial line eastbound east of Oaklawn Dr. in the late 1970s. (Courtesy streetcarmike.com)

When I attended Brother Martin High School in the mid-1970s, I had two basic options for getting home in the afternoon. One was to take either the then-NOPSI Broad or Carrollton bus lines to Canal Street, transfer to one of the outbound Canal lines, then catch the Veterans line at City Park Avenue. The other option was the “Lakeview” run. We’d take the then-NOPSI Cartier Line, which ran on Mirabeau to Spanish Fort, then transfer to the Canal (Lake Vista via Canal Blvd) line heading inbound. When that bus got to Canal Blvd, we’d transfer to the Canal (Lakeshore via Pontchartrain Blvd) line, and ride that to Pontchartrain and Veterans Boulevards. Then out to Metairie on the Veterans. The buses were GM “New Looks,” and occasionally, the air conditioning actually worked.

The Modern Veterans Line

map of the veterans E1 line, via JeT Veterans Bus Memories

Map of the Veterans E1 line, via JeT.

Da Airport’s “new” terminal opened in 2019. That changed access to the airport dramatically. Instead of approaching the original terminal from Airline Drive (US 61), flyers exit I-10 at Loyola Avenue, cross Veterans Blvd, and enter the terminal from there. So, instead of the old “Airport Express” and “Kenner Local” bus lines, access to the airport via public transit is by the E1 – Veterans (Airport) line. The E1 now goes all the way into the CBD, on Canal Street. It picks up passengers at limited stops along Canal. When the line reaches the end of Canal, at City Park Avenue, it returns to its traditional route. The line enters I-10 at City Park Avenue, then immediately exits at West End Blvd. It runs onto Veterans Blvd, where it heads west to Loyola Ave. The E1 then turns into the airport. It terminates at the airport and returns for the inbound trip. While there is no “express” service to the airport, the price ($2 one way from the CBD) is right.

JeT

rear view of JeT E1 bus Veterans Bus Memories

Rear view of JeT E1 bus. at the Cemeteries Terminal.

Jefferson Transit (JeT) was created in 1982. Prior to that, Louisiana Transit operated buses on the East Bank, and Westside Transit on the West Bank. When the state created the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority in 1984 to assume operations of transit lines in Orleans Parish, Jefferson Parish chose to operate buses in the suburbs independently. (The City of Kenner did join NORTA at that time). JeT purchased buses from the two legacy companies and contracted with them to operate the lines. In 2006, JeT consolidated operations under a single contract, awarded to Veolia Transportation, Inc. They assumed control of operations in 2008.

 

Riding along Tchoupitoulas – St. Mary’s Market

Riding along Tchoupitoulas – St. Mary’s Market

Riding along Tchoupitoulas offers a view of the “sliver along the river, including St. Mary’s Market.

St. Mary's Market

St. Mary’s Market

St. Mary’s Market, seen here in this photograph from McPherson and Oliver, in 1864ish. This is the location of the original market. It stood where Tchoupitoulas, Poyfarre, Delord, and St. Joseph Streets converged. So, the market, part of the city’s network of public markets, serviced Faubourg Ste. Marie, also known as the “American Sector.” While the French Market was the city’s first public market, St. Mary’s enabled residents living on the Uptown side of Canal Street to shop without having to go into the French Quarter. This satisfied both Anglo-Irish and Creole families.

Riding along Tchoupitoulas

I took the Canal Streetcar into town from the Cemeteries yesterday. After a wonderful lunch of red beans and rice at Mother’s Restaurant,  So, I rode the #10 bus, the Tchoupitoulas line, from Magazine and Poydras up to Audubon Park. It’s fun to let someone else do the driving while observing how neighborhoods change. Additionally, going Uptown made the trip a big loop. While the public markets vanished in favor of modern supermarkets after WWII, they left imprints on their respective neighborhoods.

The market for the American Sector stood close to the river. It offered groceries, fresh meat, and seafood to families of men who worked the riverfront. Germans and Irish immigrants regularly took jobs as longshoremen. Enough Irish settled in Ste. Marie that the Archdiocese created St. Patrick’s Parish in 1833. By 1836, the market opened. Now, the rough triangle marking the site of the market houses a gas station, several warehouses, and a restaurant. They city authorized the relocation of St. Mary’s Market in 1858. The Southern Rebellion delayed the actual move.

Transition

St. Mary’s Market stood in what is now known as the Warehouse District. So, like Magazine Street, Tchoupitoulas Street winds its way from Canal Street through many neighborhoods we collective refer to as “Uptown.” The #11 bus line ends, along with Tchoupitoulas Street, at Audubon Park. So, the bus serves both the port and important institutions Uptown like Children’s Hospital.

We’ll continue with more on Tchoupitoulas Street this week!

Tivoli Circle, 1968

Tivoli Circle, 1968

Tivoli Circle connected the CBD with Union Station.

tivoli circle

Tivoli Circle

NOPSI 934, heading outbound on the St. Charles line, 1968. John LeBeau photo, via Aaron Handy, III. Here’s Aaron’s caption from Facebook:

Outbound Charley car 934 coming off Saint Charles Avenue to round the former Lee Circle, piggybacked by NOPSI GMC New Look 18, assigned to Freret. October 23, 1968. (John LeBeau collection.)

NOPSI 934 was one of the thirty-five 900-series arch roof cars to make the cut in 1964. It was one of the 1923-24 streetcars ordered by New Orleans Public Service, Inc. While New Orleans Railway and Light Company ordered arch roofs in 1915, things changed by 1923. The transit company in New Orleans re-organized as NOPSI. Mr. Perley A. Thomas took his arch roof design from Southern Car Company, opening his own business in High Point, NC. The NOPSI order was so big, Thomas had to sub-contract it to other manufacturers.

Tivoli to Lee to…?

As streetcar traffic from Uptown increased in the 1870s, the city converted the intersection of St. Charles Avenue and Delord Street (later Howard Avenue) into a traffic circle. The re-design made it easier for streetcars to curve off into the Central Business District or down to Union Station. The city named the roundabout “Tivoli Place,” after the famous Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark. In 1884, the White League petitioned the city to construct a monument to the traitor Lee at the roundabout. The city authorized the construction of “Lee Place” in 1877. While the monument and the small park surrounding it was named for the rebel general, the roundabout remained “Place du Tivoli.” Over time, however, the names merged, and locals called it “Lee Circle.” The column at the center of Place du Tivoli remains, even though Alexander Doyle’s statue is in storage.

New Look

General Motors produced their “New Look” buses from 1958 to 1979. NOPSI purchased a number of these buses. While Flxible Company buses replaced the streetcars on the Canal Street line in 1964, New Look buses also traveled the city’s streets. In this photo, NOPSI 18, operating on the Freret line, follows NOPSI 934.

Canal Lakeshore Bus

Canal Lakeshore Bus

The Canal Lakeshore bus took over for the West End line.

canal lakeshore bus

Canal Lakeshore bus

Photo of Canal Street, showing Flxible buses operating on the various “Canal Street” lines, after the conversion of the Canal line to buses in 1964. NOPSI cut back streetcar operations on Canal Street to a single block, on what was the inbound outside track. Arch roof streetcars on the St. Charles line, like the one in the photo. I can’t make out which of the 35 remaining 1923-vintage streetcars makes the turn on the left side. If you can sort it out, let me know. The photographer stands in the “Canal Street Zone,” just on the river side of St. Charles Avenue.

Post-streetcar Canal buses

The official name for the line NOPSI 314 rolls on in this photo is, “Canal – Lakeshore via Pontchartrain Boulevard.” Here’s the route.

Outbound

  • Canal Street and the river
  • “Canal Street Zone” lakebound to Claiborne Avenue
  • Merge into auto lanes at Claiborne, continue outbound to City Park Avenue
  • Left turn at City Park Avenue
  • Right Turn at West End Blvd.
  • Left turn under the Pontchartrain Expressway (later I-10) overpass at Metairie Road.
  • Right turn onto Pontchartrain Boulevard
  • Continue outbound on Pontchartrain Boulevard
  • Right-turn on Fleur-de-lis Avenue (prior to I-10)
  • Curve around on Pontchartrain Blvd, go under I-10, continue to Fleur-de-Lis. Left turn onto Fleur-de-Lis. (after I-10)
  • Lakebound on Fleur-de-Lis to Veterans
  • Right on Veterans to West End Blvd.
  • Left on West End to Robert E. Lee Blvd. (Now Allen Toussant Blvd.)
  • Right on Toussaint to Canal Blvd.
  • Left on Canal Blvd to bus terminal at the lake.

INBOUND

  • Depart Canal Blvd terminal, riverbound.
  • Right turn on Toussaint to Pontchartrain Blvd.
  • Pontchartrain Blvd to Veterans, right turn on Veterans
  • Left turn on Fleur-de-Lis
  • Fleur-de-Lis back to Pontchartrain Blvd.
  • Pontchartrain Blvd to City Park Avenue
  • Left on City Park Avenue, the right onto Canal Street
  • Canal Street, riverbound to the river.

This route, was one of the main killers of the Canal streetcars. Air-conditioning all the way into town. No change from West End to the streetcar at City Park Avenue.

Canal buses in the 1970s

By the time I rode the Canal buses in the 1970s, on my way to and from Brother Martin, I could hop on any of the three Canal lines, to get to City Park Avenue. Canal Cemeteries ended at City Park Avenue. Canal-Lake Vista and Canal-Lakeshore split there, but all I needed was to get to the outbound Veterans bus.

 

Tulane Trackless Trolley 1963

Tulane Trackless Trolley 1963

Tulane Trackless Trolley, a trolley bus operating on the Tulane line in 1963.

tulane trackless trolley

Tulane Trackless Trolley

A trolley bus (also known as a trolley coach or trackless trolley) from the St. Louis Car Company. Photo is of New Orleans Public Service, Incorporated (NOPSI) 1190, operating on the Tulane line. The bus rolls inbound on Canal Street, approaching S. Saratoga Street. Hotel New Orleans stands just behind the bus. An ad for American General Insurance (now AIG) occupies the space on the front of the bus. American General’s office was at 222 Carondelet.

NOPSI trolley buses

NOPSI purchased trolley buses from both the St. Louis Car Company and Marmon-Herrington of Indianapolis, Indiana. They operated the electric buses on transit routes formerly running streetcars. So, when the company discontinued  streetcar “belt” service on the St. Charles and Tulane lines, St. Charles continued operating streetcars. Tulane trackless trolleys operated until 1965. At that time, all trolley bus lines converted to standard buses.

The Hotel New Orleans

This photo caught my eye because of the sign behind the trolley bus. The Hotel New Orleans stood at 1300 Canal Street. The building dates to the 1930s. The hotel sported a huge neon sign proclaiming “HOTEL NEW ORLEANS.” That neon sign is visible in the background of so many photos of Canal Street. While the rooftop sign is ubiquitous, the street-level sign is a neat catch.

The photo

My friend Aaron posted this photo on Facebook. He catches stuff from everywhere. Looking for more info on NOPSI 1190, I turned to Streetcar Mike. This is his copy of the photo, with the credits. Here’s his entry for 1190:

St. Louis 1190 on the Tulane line at Canal and S. Saratoga Sts. on an unknown date. I presume it’s after 1957, when the Canal neutral ground was rebuilt to eliminate the unused outer streetcar tracks. Hotels and bars dominate this section of Canal just out from the Joy Theatre (out of picture to the left). Photo comes from the collection of Gerald Squier courtesy of Scott Richards and was added 03/22/14.

Thanks to Mike and the photo sources!