NEW ORLEANS — The city has entered into a consent decree to make the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line accessible for wheelchair users.
The move comes after Bizer & DeReus law firm filed a lawsuit against the city and RTA on behalf of three wheelchair users.
The lawsuit alleged that the streetcar line is completely inaccessible to wheelchair users and therefore violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The RTA claimed in 2011 that it had a waiver for the streetcar line, exempting it from wheelchair accessibility. The law firm, however, found out that no such waiver existed.
Lawyers who filed the suit said in a news release that there is not enough room on the neutral ground of St. Charles Avenue for safe, ADA-compliant landing pads for wheelchair users.
Under the terms of the consent decree, which was approved today by a federal district judge, the city and RTA will make six stops on the streetcar line accessible to wheelchair users, following approval by the appropriate governmental entities.
The stops are at each end of the line, as well as 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.
When construction is complete, the RTA will run one streetcar equipped with a wheelchair lift on the St. Charles Avenue line.
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 consent decree prevents the city or RTA from adding additional accessible stops or accessible streetcars.