New Orleans Regional Transit Authority

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The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA or NORTA as it is called by some residents) is a body established by the Louisiana State Legislature in 1979; since 1983 it has controlled bus and streetcar service in the City of New Orleans.

Previously, public mass transit, electric, and natural gas were all controlled by a private utility company, New Orleans Public Service Incorporated (NOPSI), now known as Entergy New Orleans. The switch to a public operation was motivated by lack of profitability and the desire to be eligible for federal funding.

NORTA has one of the largest fleets of buses in the nation and it also has the reputation for being one of the cleanest and safest systems.


Hurricane Katrina

City buses were used before Hurricane Katrina hit to transport people to a refuge of last resort, the Louisiana Superdome. Much of the city flooded due to the storm. The NORTA Administration building on Plaza Drive appears to have been in ten feet of water. Almost eighty-five percent of the fleet was rendered useless and inoperative; 146 city buses were visible outdoors in the flood at the 2817 Canal St. facility, while only 22 were at 3900 Desire Pky. The 8201 Willow St. facility was one block within the flood but was built above street level. The buses at the flooded facilities were mostly written off.

Post-disaster recovery

As of 2007, service was restored to certain areas as they become habitable again. However, there is no 24-hour service on any bus or streetcar line. Streetcars have returned to the full length of Canal St. and the Riverfront, initially using the historic St. Charles Line streetcars, which were not damaged, as the red Canal cars were. In 2008, the St. Charles streetcar resumed running the entire length of its route. By early 2009, the red Canal streetcars were repaired and had taken over service on the Canal and Riverfront Lines. The buses that have been restored to operation have returned to several major thoroughfares, including Elysian Fields Avenue, Esplanade Avenue, Claiborne Avenue, St. Claude Avenue, Judge Perez Drive, General Meyer Avenue, Lapalco Boulevard, Robert E. Lee Boulevard, and the Chef Menteur Highway. And just two express routes, Lake Forest Express and Morrison Express, both serving Eastern New Orleans, have been reinstated so far.

A year before Katrina, in addition to local and express bus service, NORTA brought Bus Rapid Transit to the city. The first BRT line opened up on Broad Street, with two more lines opening up months later running along Tulane Avenue and Saint Claude Avenue.

Bus & Streetcar Route List

  • 2 Riverfront Streetcar
  • 5 Marigny-Bywater
  • 10 Tchoupitoulas
  • 11 Magazine
  • 12 St. Charles Streetcar
  • 15 Freret
  • 16 Claiborne
  • 24 Napoleon
  • 27 Louisiana
  • 28 M.L. King
  • 32 Leonidas
  • 39 Tulane
  • 45 Canal Boulevard
  • 47 Canal Streetcar to Cemeteries
  • 48 Canal Streetcar to City Park/Museum
  • 49 Lakeview
  • 52 St. Bernard
  • 53 Gentilly
  • 55 Elysian Fields
  • 57 Franklin
  • 60 Hayne
  • 62 Morrison Express
  • 64 Lake Forest Express
  • 80 Louisa
  • 83 Lower Ninth Ward
  • 84 Galvez
  • 88 St. Calude-Jackson Barracks
  • 91 Jackson-Esplanade
  • 94 Broad
  • 101 Algiers Loop
  • 102 General Meyer Whitney
  • 108 Algiers Local
  • 114 General DeGauille
  • 201 Kenner Loop

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