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After years of delays, New Orleans transit leaders eye September launch date for

After more than two years of delays, failed inspections and fingerpointing, New Orleans’ public transportation authority has announced that one of its new ferry boats will begin carrying passengers across the river next month.

It’s the first time since 2018 that the Regional Transit Authority has given a hard deadline for a ferry’s completion, after contractors and managers have repeatedly blown previous deadlines assigned to the $10 million vessels.

Two trouble-plagued ferries that were supposed to go into service a year ago for the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority still don’t meet f…

The ferryboat RTA 2 should be repaired and ready by Sept. 18, officials said at a transit board meeting earlier this week. Then, Metal Shark, the Jeanerette company building the boats, is expected to resolve leftover issues with its twin, RTA 1. Though officials said the second job should wrap quickly, the agency did not provide a timeline for completion in that case.

But the September timeline for the first boat is “a confident date,” CEO Alex Wiggins added.

Finally putting even one of the boats on the river would bring a form of closure to a quagmire that has dragged on since spring of 2018. That was the first target date for completion of the two new vessels, and the first time each boat failed Coast Guard inspections.

Reeling from a barrage of complaints from commuters and Algiers Point business owners, New Orleans transit officials pledged Thursday to run a…

The failures launched a lengthy feud between the RTA and Metal Shark, which resulted in theats of litigation, prompted the RTA to strip a private contractor of ferry oversight duties and triggered complaints from residents, businesses and transit advocates.

Metal Shark landed the job in 2017, after the RTA put out a call for a builder who could replace two aging vessels that have racked up high maintenance bills.

New Orleans public transit officials violated state law when they shielded records about problems plaguing their two new ferries, a lawsuit fi…

But the RTA’s private management contractor, Transdev, had a résumé thin on maritime transit managment. And while Metal Shark fulfilled its promise to deliver the boats in a speedy 10 months, the Coast Guard rejected them soon after they reached New Orleans.

Metal Shark blamed Transdev for its inexperience. Transdev pointed to a list of issues the Coast Guard and independent surveyors found with the boats, as well as leaks and corrosion problems that other boats Metal Shark produced for New York City experienced after only a few months in service. The RTA, meanwhile, came under fire from riders who had been promised boats that weren’t ready.

For nearly three months last year, due to ongoing problems with old boats and new ones, there were no ferries at all to carry people across the Mississippi River.

The RTA relieved Transdev of its ferry responsibilities and most other management duties last year. This spring, board members voted to cut all ties with that agency, a move that will take place in October.

More than 100 Algiers Point residents descended on the New Orleans public transit system’s headquarters Tuesday to demand answers about the la…

Read More: After years of delays, New Orleans transit leaders eye September launch date for

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