The Regional Transit Authority board Tuesday approved a fare structure for the Mississippi River ferries that include a $65 monthly pass, an $18 five-day ferry-only pass and passes that integrate the bus and streetcar lines.
The board voted unanimously to approve the plan, which was drafted by Veolia, the private company that runs the day-to-day operations of RTA, as part of a takeover of two ferries from the state. The ferry between Gretna and New Orleans will only operate during special events, with fares still to be determined.
The fare structure, which will go before the New Orleans City Council on August 22, included several changes following public comments earlier this month. The original monthly pass was to be $75, and there was previously no five-day option.
Veolia also eliminated a one-day ferry-only pass.
RTA General Manager Justin Augustine said there is still time to tweak the plan before it goes to the city council, but requests for a lower rate for children under 12 can’t be accommodated because the ferries have to be consistent with the bus system.
The new five-day pass for the ferry, bus and streetcar is set at $30.
Other elements of the schedule remained the same, and while residents and transit advocates were generally supportive, they asked the RTA to continue to look for federal funding to lower the cost for service industry workers and families that use the ferries to travel between Algiers and Canal Street and Algiers and Chalmette.
Pedestrians, who now pay nothing to ride across the river, will pay $2 each way, though senior citizens, the disabled and those on Medicaid will pay half that.
The charge for vehicles will double to $2, with additional charges imposed for passengers other than the driver and for vehicles with trailers.
Augustine said it is too early to say when the new fare schedule could take effect.
The groundwork for the takeover was laid last year, when legislation authorizing a referendum on the extension of tolls on the Crescent City Connection divorced the ferries from the bridge, which provided their traditional funding source.
Plans to privatize the system failed when no companies expressed interest in the ferries, prompting legislators to come back this year with temporary funding and a law allowing RTA to step in and run them.