Tips and Tricks for Using the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar Line


Before I finish with the topic of New Orleans, here are a few helpful hints that I wish I’d found somewhere, anywhere, before I started making use of the very useful St. Charles line.

  • Get yourself a Jazzy Pass ASAP. Unless you’re just making one or two trips, it’s totally worth it. The fare boxes on the streetcars are painfully slow, and you need exact change. Paying cash holds up the line and makes you look like a tourist.
  • You can buy a one-day Jazzy Pass from the streetcar conductor (cash only), but not the 3-day pass, which is available from various vending machines and retail outlets, or any Walgreens store in New Orleans. (There are Walgreens all over the place in NOLA.) The link I’ve provided gives basic purchase information.
  • When you get a new Jazzy Pass, the countdown to expiry starts the first time you run it through a fare box. Note that most likely the only time you’ll need to run it through the fare box is the first time you use it. The ticket readers are slow, so most conductors seem to prefer that riders just show their time-stamped passes when they get on. In fact, late one night when I started to run my pass through the machine, the conductor grabbed my wrist with one hand while taking the ticket away from me with his other hand. He spoke not a word, and really pissed me off. (And I know he wasn’t mute because he was chatting up a storm with an off-duty conductor who got on a couple of stops later.)
  • All the streetcars have “exit rear door” signs, but most people don’t do that because the doors are difficult to open manually. If you find yourself stuck in the rear of a crowded streetcar when you reach your stop, give that door a good, hard outward shove to open it – otherwise you’ll have the conductor and half the passengers shouting instructions at you until you disembark, and cheering sarcastically when you do.
  • I have an app called Transit on my phone that I use at home, and it turns out that it works in New Orleans as well. It wasn’t super accurate about arrival times but close enough for a vacation, and it was somehow smart enough to figure out what direction I was heading in, so it turned out to be fairly useful. If you have that app, or a similar one, give it a try!

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