A federal judge in New Orleans has approved a consent decree under which the RTA has agreed to provide wheelchair access to streetcar service on St. Charles Avenue.
The decree was approved a year after a lawsuit was filed against the city and the RTA on behalf of three New Orleans residents who are wheelchair users. The suit alleged that the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar Line is completely inaccessible to wheelchair users, a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Under the terms of the decree, six stops on the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar Line will be made accessible to wheelchair users. The stops are at each end of the line, Napoleon, Louisiana, Jackson, and an as-yet-undetermined stop near the Riverbend. Once all the applications are granted, the city and the RTA will have nine months to secure bids on the construction.
Upon completion of the construction, the RTA will run one streetcar equipped with a wheelchair lift on the St. Charles Avenue line by 2019. No modifications will be made to the historic, green, Perley Thomas streetcars.
If subsequent ridership data demonstrates high demand for the wheelchair accessible streetcar, a second accessible streetcar will be added after two years. Nothing in the decree prevents the City or the RTA from adding additional accessible stops or accessible streetcars.
Attorney Andrew Bizer who represented the wheelchair users who filed suit said he and his clients were "extremely pleased" with the action.
"Accessibility for wheelchair users on the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar Line is long overdue. My clients are excited that in the future they will be able to ride on the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar just like everyone else," Bizer said.