Two years after service was halted by Hurricane Katrina, the St. Charles Avenue streetcar is rolling once again in New Orleans, acting as a bellwether of recovery for many local residents and business people.
"The historic St. Charles Avenue streetcar, as much a symbol of this city as jazz and blackened redfish, returned to service at 5:27 a.m. Sunday, two years, two months and 13 days after being battered offline by Katrina. Residents and tourists alike heralded the return of the olive-green, 1920s-era Perley Thomas streetcars as a major step toward recovery."
"'It's huge,' said City Council member Stacey Head. 'This returns a sense of normalcy to New Orleanians. It's part of what you think about when you think about this city.'"
"Part of the appeal is its history. The St. Charles Avenue line, stretching 6½ miles down the broad, oak-lined residential boulevard, first opened to the public in 1835, making it one of the oldest continuously running trolley systems in the world, said Wil Mullet, rail superintendent for the Regional Transit Authority (RTA)."
"The streetcars are just as heavily used by residents going to and from work each day as by tourists. Just prior to Katrina, the citywide system ran 24 hours a day and served 120,000 passengers daily, Mullet said. That number has dropped to around 25,000 a day, but is expected to steadily rise as lines become operational, he said."