OPINION | Students should take advantage of the streetcar

Rachel Kelly, Views Editor

(Merrie Afseth)

The streetcar is an affordable and convenient way for residents and tourists to travel around New Orleans. On campus, limited and pricey parking as well as the logistical difficulties involved with having a car at school make the streetcar a valuable transportation option for many students. 

Tulane University students may not have a car available to them for a variety of reasons. First-year students are not allowed to purchase parking passes or park on campus. Some students may not own a car or know how to drive, or they may fear the treacherous potholes and narrow Uptown streets. Others may be deterred by expensive parking passes and limited spots on campus, as Tulane is located in a busy urban area. 

The streetcar is even valuable for students who have conquered the hurdles of getting their car to New Orleans. Parking in well-trafficked areas, such as the French Quarter and Magazine Street, can be sparse. If students are consuming alcohol or someone doesn’t feel like driving, the streetcar is a much cheaper option than taking an Uber or Lyft, with ticket prices at only $1.25. 

There are four streetcar lines in New Orleans, all originating Downtown. The lines run on St. Charles Avenue, Canal Street, the Riverfront, Loyola/Uptown and Rampart/Saint Claude. The St. Charles Streetcar is probably the most familiar to Tulane students since the line passes between Gibson Hall and Audubon Park. The Tulane University/Audubon Park and Zoo stop is just a short walk from most residence halls and can take students just two blocks away from Magazine Street and down to the French Quarter. 

Streetcar fares must be paid with exact change when you board, and it costs 25 cents to switch lines. You can also purchase an unlimited ride “Jazzy Passes” for one, three or 31 days. The passes cost $3, $8 and $45, respectively. Discounted passes are offered for senior citizens, those with qualifying disabilities and K-12th graders. Specific prices can be found here.

Not only is the streetcar a means of transportation, but it is also a charming and historical experience. The St. Charles Streetcar is the oldest continuously operating streetcar line in the world and one of New Orleans’ top tourist attractions

Although the streetcar’s antiquity is part of its appeal, its age is apparent in the leisurely speed at which it moves. If you’re meeting someone or have a reservation, it would be wise to check how long the journey will take you beforehand to ensure you have plenty of time. 

If you had previously used the GoMobile App, it will be retired on Aug. 29, 2022 and replaced with the Le Pass app. In the app, you can instantly buy a ticket with a credit card if you do not have exact change. 

You can use Apple and Google maps to plan your route, but the New Orleans RTA website may have more accurate times. The streetcars run 24 hours a day except during Mardi Gras. The streetcars frequently run during the day and once an hour between midnight and 6 a.m.

The streetcar may not be practical for students to use as their main form of travel, but it is an underappreciated resource that provides inexpensive, safe and practical transport — with a view of New Orleans from a fresh perspective. 

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