Friday, November 06, 2015

The Downtown Dizneylandrieu Toursit Conveyor Belt

convention ctr streetcar
Proposals floated by RTA back in 2009 for a Convention Center streetcar loop. These options were tabled in favor of the Loyola line and the Rampart streetcar currently under construction.  

I'm not sure the city really wants locals to spend a whole lot of time downtown anymore.  Next year, the mayor wants to dramatically increase the cost of parking there. It was a little surprising this week to see New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau President Stephen Perry express concerns about the plan. You don't usually see him and the mayor this out of step with one another.
Perry says he’s opposed both in his role as tourism leader and as a resident; he lives in the Warehouse District, “The issue of going to 10 at night is so preposterous on so many levels,” he told Gambit. “We have been hearing endlessly over the last few days from restaurateurs and workers in hotels and restaurants.”
For a little perspective on this, here's a NOLA.com slideshow of "the lowest paying jobs in New Orleans."  I know those are annoying to click through so I'll just tell you 11 of the 15 occupations listed are in retail, food service, or housekeeping all of which comprise the backbone of the local hospitality industry.  So Perry is right. The workers his business is most dependent on will be the most stressed by the parking hike.

We know, also, the Rent Is Too Damn High in "desirable" downtown neighborhoods so fewer of these employees live within walking distance.  It would be nice if New Orleans offered efficient public transit options as an alternative to driving but we're not building those.  Instead, we're spending capital on amusement rides for visitors.
The Canal Street ferry terminal, seen for years as an impediment to opening the Mississippi riverfront, would be torn down and replaced with a pedestrian landing on a floating barge, under a plan being pursued by New Orleans city and transit leaders.

The proposal is part of a larger vision to revamp the area between the Audubon Aquarium and the former World Trade Center: upgrades to Spanish Plaza, a rail spur for a new streetcar line headed Uptown toward the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, a bus terminal for connections and two new ferry boats.

"We are going to rebuild this foot of Canal Street," Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a news conference Thursday (Nov. 5).
It would be nice to think that a pedestrian only ferry actually served commuters, but that's just not realistic. To do so, it would have to operate 24 hours and connect to more efficient bus lines on both sides of the river which do not currently exist.  As things are, a ferry that can't carry cars is little more than a theme park boat ride.

Worse, still, they're proposing yet another streetcar line. The purpose of this one, apparently, is to make it so that visitors don't have to walk the five blocks from the renovated Trade Mart building over to the Convention Center. This, in the interest of making the area more "walkable."

None of it does much to get residents in and out of downtown efficiently.  Is does look like it will make it more fun for tourists to ride around in circles while they're there, though. The city is hoping the centrifugal force of that will shake a little more change out of their pockets in the process.  Not that the wage earners who make it possible will see any of it. Whatever they find, they'll have to feed back into the meter.

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