St. Charles Streetcar Clangs Back to Life

<p>The streetcar returns to New Orleans' St. Charles Ave., a step forward in the long struggle to get the city's transit back on it's feet after Katrina.</p>
June 21, 2008, 11am PDT | Tim Halbur
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"Once the final mile or so reopens, tourists, downtown workers and bar-hopping college students will be able to ride the popular, un-air-conditioned St. Charles line from the downtown business district through mansion-lined streets and other areas nearly 24 hours a day.

In harder-hit and slowly recovering neighborhoods, however, the wait for a bus can be an hour or more. Only a quarter of the people who took streetcars and buses on workdays before Katrina are doing so now.

Civic groups want more streetcar and bus lines to link neighborhoods as the city rebuilds, saying public transportation will help attract new residents to a city where insurance and gasoline prices are pushing up the already-high cost of living.

Thelma Tyler, who is trying to rebuild her Lower 9th Ward home, hopes that with the streetcar back, transit officials can focus on improving service in her old neighborhood."Hopefully, things will be expedited as soon as possible, because we don't want the elderly waiting that long or walking, especially in the heat," she said.

After Katrina damaged the Regional Transit Authority's fleet, it curtailed bus service to many neighborhoods where fewer people were living."

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Published on Friday, June 20, 2008 in The Associated Press
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