How the New Orleans Streetcar Revival Left Bus Riders Behind

The woes of New Orleans transit users reflect a multitude of factors, including the city’s oft-flooded geography, its postwar resistance to desegregation, its increasingly tourist-dependent local economy, and the lingering effects of Hurricane Katrina. The coronavirus crisis recently added a new stress: Ridership plunged in 2020, as did revenue from sales and hotel taxes. It took $43 million in federal CARES Act funding to save the agency from severe service cuts in 2020. Those strains have left the Crescent City with a bifurcated transit story: a beloved, if much-diminished, heritage streetcar network that’s most useful as a tourist amenity, and a struggling bus system largely used by working-class people of color.