Two trouble-plagued ferries that were supposed to go into service a year ago for the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority still don't meet federal standards, and it’s unclear when they will start carrying passengers across the Mississippi River.The new RTA head wants you to know it's not as bad as it sounds. To be clear, they didn't fail the inspection. They withdrew from it before that could happen.
U.S. Coast Guard officials said Friday they inspected the boats in July and found them lacking on multiple fronts. To remedy the problems, the RTA said it will hire a project manager.
In an interview, new RTA CEO Alex Wiggins disputed the idea that the boats had failed inspection, saying the process was paused at his request after the Coast Guard found issues on the boats on the first day of inspections. But Coast Guard spokeswoman Lt. Rachel Ault said it's standard practice for the Coast Guard to stop an inspection midway when it's clear that a vessel isn't ready for service. The Coast Guard did just that on July 25, she said.This is, of course, after the boats weren't ready in June, which is after they weren't ready for Jazzfest. And, of course, all of that was well after they weren't ready for the Tricentennial celebrations.
Three years later, the agency entered into a contract with Metal Shark for two new high-speed, catamaran-style vessels to handle the Canal Street-to-Algiers Point run. Transdev, the RTA's private contractor, managed that process.So, much like the airport, the ferries are something else that aren't ready at least in part because Mitch wanted them rushed in time for his big party. Not that we can say for certain this is why Metal Shark was hired. But we are pretty sure that was a less than great idea.
The boats were supposed to arrive by May 2018. That deadline was later advanced to March to align with some tricentennial celebrations and former Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s tenure at City Hall. But neither deadline was met, after inspections revealed numerous problems.