Algiers ferry schedule cut

With no final plan in place to turn the New Orleans-area ferries over to the Regional Transit Authority, officials announced a reduced schedule for the Algiers route that will take effect Monday.

The new schedule will see the Algiers ferry make its Mississippi River crossing every half hour from 7:15 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. from Monday through Thursday, according to the Department of Transportation and Development.

On Fridays, the ferry will stay in operation until 8:15 p.m.

Saturday hours will run from 10:45 a.m. to 8:15 p.m. and on Sundays the service will be in operation from 10:45 a.m. to 6:15 p.m.

The Gretna Ferry, which had been plagued by staffing problems, has been out of service for months.

There are no plans to reopen that route, according to transportation officials.

The new hours are part of a transition process as the Regional Transit Authority comes up with a long-term proposal to run the ferries.

That takeover was enabled by a bill sponsored by Sen. David Heitmeier, D-Algiers, that was passed in this year’s legislative session and is aimed at providing funding for the system both during the transition and after the takeover.

Earlier in the week, Heitmeier said the transportation department’s plan to reduce ferry service was “not optimal,” but he is optimistic that the takeover would be complete within three months and more extensive hours would be restored.

Once that happens, Heitmeier said he hoped to see the boats running 16 hours a day every day of the week, providing service from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Those hours would cover the times the ferry sees its largest ridership numbers and provide transportation options for workers who need to cross the river to get to work, even if they have early or late shifts, Heitmeier said.

Extra hours will be added to the Algiers ferry’s schedule during several special next month.

On the Fourth of July and during the Wednesdays on the Point concert series, the ferry will run from 7:15 a.m. to 10:15 p.m.

No changes are planned for the Chalmette Ferry, which will continue to run from 6 a.m. to 8:45 p.m.

The transportation department also announced it will end the sale of tickets for all ferries statewide Sunday.

The infrequently used tickets now cost more to produce than they generate for the department, according to the agency.

Tickets will still be honored on the ferry routes until the end of the year.