For a mere $1.25 per ride or even less with a multi-day pass, New Orleans’ streetcar system offers an economical and enjoyable means of exploring the city.
New Orleans boasts five distinct streetcar lines, with the most renowned being the St. Charles Line, tracing its path through what is often referred to as the “American sector” of the city. You might wonder, “Isn’t all of New Orleans American?” However, Canal Street, a prominent thoroughfare, effectively divides the city into two historically significant districts: the old Creole enclave known as the French Quarter and the region inhabited by the nouveau Americans who settled there after the Louisiana Purchase.
The St. Charles Streetcar The historic St. Charles Avenue streetcar embarks on a 13-mile journey, meandering through renowned streets and offering a tourist-friendly fare of just $1.25 per ride. If you opt for a pass, you can hop on and off as you please to explore places that pique your curiosity.
The cherished vintage green streetcars are readily accessible along St. Charles Avenue, traversing from downtown Canal Street, extending toward the University Section, and finally reaching Audubon Park in the uptown area. This picturesque route takes you beneath a canopy of majestic live oaks, past antebellum mansions, and alongside Loyola and Tulane universities. A ride on this streetcar provides a glimpse into the New Orleans of yesteryears; the cars’ interiors still showcase mahogany seats and brass embellishments, and the view through your window will reveal the splendor of New Orleans’ history.
The primary hub for boarding the St. Charles Streetcar, especially for most tourists staying in French Quarter or downtown hotels, is situated at Canal and Carondelet streets. Just be on the lookout for a yellow sign that designates “Car Stop” on a pole near the intersection.
Other Streetcar Routes The Canal Street Line follows a 5.5-mile course, commencing from the base of Canal Street, traversing the Central Business District, reaching the mid-city area, and concluding at City Park Avenue, near the historic cemeteries. The Riverfront Line’s route transports you to popular destinations like the French Market shops, the Aquarium of the Americas, Riverfront Marketplace, Canal Place, and Harrah’s.
The Loyola/UPT Line, launched in 2013, shuttles train and bus passengers from the Union Passenger Terminal to Canal Street and the French Quarter. These modern cars are equipped with air conditioning, so they offer a more utilitarian experience, not typical of a tourist attraction.
The latest addition, the Rampart/St. Claude Streetcar Line, connects the Marigny/Bywater area to the Union Passenger Terminal and provides convenient access to the French Quarter and the Treme neighborhood.
Navigating the Streetcar Streetcars operate around the clock, except during Mardi Gras parades. They run approximately every five minutes during peak hours. While on board, ensure that you keep your head and limbs inside the car at all times since they pass within inches of telephone poles and trees. The seat backs can be adjusted to face your companions, as they are reversible. Conductors are generally happy to announce your stop if you let them know your destination. To signal the streetcar to stop, simply pull the overhead wire.