June 26 2014 | Latest NewsBy Andrea Shaw, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
The beginning of improvements in Algiers ferry service, including extended hours, is coming in July. Starting Tuesday (July 1), passengers can buy monthly passes at a cost of $65. And on July 21, the Canal Street line will expand its schedule from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m., Monday through Friday.
It will be the first major changes for the boats since Veolia Transportation Services took over operations in February.
Justin Augustine, vice president of France-based Veolia, said Wednesday the firm is embarking on new territory by providing waterborne transportation in the U.S for the first time. It operates ferries in France, the Netherlands, Norway and Australia, transporting 10.5 million passengers and 2.4 million vehicles annually on 76 vessels.
Augustine said his team will draw on that experience as well as relationships Veolia is building with ferry operators around the country in improving the Algiers lines.
Mark Major, Veolia's chief investment officer, the addition of ferry service meshes well with the company's public transit offerings. "It connects directly to eight existing bus routes and four streetcar routes. From transportation (standpoint), it's a natural fit.''
Veolia manages the Regional Transit Authority's buses and streetcar lines.
Meanwhile, RTA has scheduled an open house in Algiers July 15, to discuss improvements in bus service. The proposal includes the return of the Aurora line and schedule adjustments for the General Meyer and Algiers loop. That meeting will be held from 4:30 p.m. until 7 p.m. at the Algiers Regional Library on Holiday Drive.
"Algiers residents have always been supportive,'' Augustine said. "We appreciate their support. More importantly, we want to recognize their need and work toward providing the services they ask us to.''