Testing the Loyola Streetcar Jan 20, 2013
As with every development project currently in action around town, the new streetcar line and all the streetcar lines possibly coming in the future will primarily serve tourists and the tourism industry.
The U.S. Department of Transportation is another uncertainty. The RTA reckons it has enough money to extend streetcar service along St. Claude from Canal Street to Elysian Fields Avenue but not as far as Poland Avenue, as some had hoped. The agency will need federal money to go further or start planning a new line to the Convention Center.The Loyola line, which takes you from Howard Avenue to Canal Street is basically a fifteen minute walk. Extend that to Elysian Fields and then you've got something someone might use. But only if that someone happens to be going from the Hyatt over to a night of "authentic" music on the increasingly disneyfied Frenchman Street. Locals will never use this for anything.
It doesn't have to be this way. Most cities, sane cities, cities who believe in making life work for their own residents, invest in building great transit systems that benefit their own people. And then visitors to those cities enjoy using those amenities too. Here we do everything backwards. Utility of infrastructure to the people who live here is always an afterthought.
Locals would have used a streetcar that runs from downtown all the way to Poland Avenue but obviously no one was ever serious about building that. Instead, it's time to figure out how to get tourists to make the five blocks from the Quarter to the Convention Center without having to get off their fat asses for more than 10 feet at a time.