Ferry service down between Algiers and Canal Street

One of the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority's ferry boats heads to Algiers Point from Canal Street in this photo taken in 2018. (Photo by David Grunfeld, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

Judging from reports about the contentious, even ugly, recent ferry meeting in Algiers Point, all the good will and optimism over Alex Wiggins becoming the RTA’s new CEO has evaporated. It’s not surprising. While the eminent and capable Wiggins is touting — and working toward — much-needed and much-welcomed improvements for the long run, he has not yet dealt effectively with the pain and loss that’s been happening in Algiers Point for weeks. It does no good to assure the patient of the undeniable benefits of a healthy lifestyle while the patient bleeds out on the examination table. First, stop the bleeding.

The latest word is that the RTA might put up some money to alleviate the financial hardship that’s killing businesses on the Point. Assuming this remarkably vague offer is not merely a pacifier and never meant to be implemented, its implementation presents all kinds of problems, starting with proof of claims and including the amount of money to be given out, and to whom. Meanwhile, $194,000 is deemed too much to pay for a chartered ferry that could start the healing as soon as it hits the water.

The RTA’s No. 1 priority must be to get a working boat in the water as soon as possible, whatever it takes. Maybe it’s exerting 100% of effort and expense to getting one of the old boats repaired within days, not weeks, with all available hands working around the clock 24/7. Perhaps more likely, it’s coughing up the money for a chartered vessel. But anything less than a maximum effort to immediately restore ferry service amounts to just about nothing.

Although the current dismal state of the ferries is certainly not Wiggins’s fault, the unprecedented and inexcusable lack of service for almost two months is definitely his problem. And he is not solving it.

Kevin Horne


New Orleans