The broad gauge South Claiborne streetcar line was opened February 22, 1915. Cars operated from Canal and St. Charles, St. Charles, Howard, Rampart, Clio, S. Claiborne, Broadway to Maple. Cars returned to Canal via S. Claiborne, Erato, and Carondelet. On March 1, 1916 the line began operating on Claiborne past Broadway to Carrollton. There was a period in the 1920s where cars used Julia instead of Howard. Route signs varied, sometimes saying S. Claiborne, Claiborne centered, or Claiborne to the right with the space for "S." or "So." blanked out. The route ended service with 800-900 series streetcars on January 5, 1953. According to the Item newspaper, 839 was the last streetcar, arriving at Canal at 4:33 a.m. The new bus line started at Canal and S. Rampart, Canal, Baronne, Clio, Simon Bolivar, Melpomene, and S. Claiborne to Carrollton. Return via Claiborne, Melpomene, and S. Rampart to Canal. Streetcars were replaced with buses to allow construction of the South Claiborne overpass, which would cross the newly rerouted railroad tracks leading to Union Passenger Terminal and intersect with the future Greater New Orleans Bridge and Pontchartrain Expressway.

A limited stop route called Carrollton via Poydras began March 14, 1955. It started at Canal and S. Rampart, on Canal, Poydras, S. Claiborne to Carrollton. It returned via Claiborne, Poydras, and Rampart to Canal. The Poydras branch ran Monday to Saturday from 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and was nonstop from Poydras to Napoleon. To cover the limited stop section of Claiborne, a branch called Napoleon via Melpomene was begun. It ran from Canal and S. Rampart, on Canal, Baronne, Julia, Loyola, Simon Bolivar, Melpomene, S. Claiborne to Napoleon. Buses returned via S. Claiborne, Melpomene, S. Rampart to Canal. By 1958, the Poydras branch was rerouted via Carondelet, Canal, St. Charles to Poydras; the Melpomene branch was rerouted to Canal via Loyola and Elk Place. By 1961, Melpomene buses used S. Rampart instead of Baronne to return uptown.

When the Poydras branch was not running (after 6:30 p.m., all day Sunday, and owl service), a branch called Carrollton via Melpomene ran local service over the entire route.

White 788s were typical equipment at the beginning of the S. Claiborne bus line. As GMC 5105s came into service, they began operating the line. Limited stop buses on Poydras were operated by 5105s with flashing lamps mounted on either side of the front destination sign. I refer to them as express lamps or express lights, because they were turned on when buses were operated on the expresses. In the 1970s, the lamps no longer flashed but glowed steadily. While it's possible Flxible F2Ds and 111-CCs were used on South Claiborne, the seventies saw the use of GMC 5301s, 5303s, and 5305s. AM Generals replaced 5105s, and both GMC RTS (no express lamps) and Grumman Flxible 870 (with express lamps) buses were used. After 1981, NOPSI designated the Claiborne line one of fifteen accessible routes (the last ten RTS and all 870s were lift equipped) on scheduled trips. All coaches operated out of Arabella Station on Magazine, and typical deadheading might be via Broadway to and from Carrollton.

RTA continued the three routes, eventually numbered 16 (Carrollton via Poydras), 17 (Carrollton via M.L. King), and 18 (Napoleon via M.L. King). There was a supplemental South Claiborne Nashville line in the mid-1980s for school service. After Hurricane Katrina, 28 M.L. King replaced the inner portions of the 17/18 routes. 16 South Claiborne became local service over the entire Carrollton via Poydras route, with no owl service available. Buses began using Camp, Canal, and Convention Center Blvd. in the Central Business District.

Service on South Claiborne above South Carrollton has always been operated by a route separate from the main Claiborne line. From May 8, 1916 to January 1, 1931 the South Claiborne Shuttle car handled it. Trackage was shared with the Orleans Kenner interurban line, which was standard gauge. The bus replacement was renamed Palmer Park in 1957. RTA replaced the Palmer Park line with an extension of the 39 Tulane out to the parish line and back to Carrollton.

The wide neutral ground of Claiborne was once an open drainage canal. The canal was covered over in a series of projects happening over several decades. In the 1970s, the canal was still there between Leonidas and the parish line. Construction during 2014-16 was covering that last segment. Streetcars operated uptown and downtown on the river side of the canal; on June 15, 1927 cars were made to run on both sides of the canal. Photos from 1948 show the canal still existed from Fourth St. downtown. After bus replacement, the rest of the downtown canal was covered over and the overpass crossing the rerouted railroad lines (via the former New Basin Canal right of way) was constructed. Poydras buses accessed Claiborne using ramps in the center of the bridge, which was connected to the Pontchartrain Expressway and the Greater New Orleans Bridge (now called Crescent City Connection).

For additional photos of the South Claiborne streetcar line, please visit H. George Friedman's Streetcar Album page linked above.

NOPSI BRILL CAR No. 800:

Car 800 at the S. Claiborne and S. Carrollton Aves. terminal. Photo from the collection of H. George Friedman. Added 09/27/14.

NOPSI PERLEY THOMAS CAR No. 915:

Car 915 at S. Claiborne and S. Carrollton terminal. The overhead line curving into Carrollton is visible as well as a bus shelter for the S. Claiborne Shuttle and Jefferson lines. Photo from my collection. Added 01/25/12.

NOPSI PERLEY THOMAS CAR No. 925:

Car 925 heading down to Canal Street on Carondelet between Gravier and Common Sts. Photo from my collection. Added 02/08/12.

NOPSI PERLEY THOMAS CAR No. 930:

Car 930 at the S. Claiborne and S. Carrollton terminal in the late 1940s. A St. Charles Belt car is visible to the right. Photo by Walter Broschart from the H. George Friedman collection added 01/09/17.

NOPSI PERLEY THOMAS CAR No. 941:

Car 941 heading uptown at S. Claiborne and Jackson Aves. in 1948. The Gallo Theatre is visible in the second shot, which also shows the drainage canal in the neutral ground. The neutral ground also has a railroad track with a visible spur on the uptown side of Jackson. Two photos by Walter Broschart from the H. George Friedman collection added 01/09/17.

NOPSI PERLEY THOMAS CAR No. 952:

Car 952 downtown bound above Jackson Ave. in 1948. Photo by Walter Broschart from the H. George Friedman collection added 01/09/17.


Car 952 bound for uptown at S. Rampart St. and Howard Ave. in 1949. A Jackson trolley coach (with a three part diagonal design) is visible at left. The streetcars ran past old Union Station at this location. Photo by Walter Broschart from the H. George Friedman collection added 01/09/17.

NOPSI PERLEY THOMAS CAR No. 954:

Car 954 packed with passengers is inbound at Erato and Magnolia Sts. in 1949. Photo by Walter Broschart from the H. George Friedman collection added 01/11/17.

NOPSI PERLEY THOMAS CAR No. 957:

Car 957 heading uptown on St. Charles between Gravier and Poydras in 1949. It passes the Rex Hotel and Cuccia's Yale Bar; one of the iterations of the St. Charles Hotel is visible in the background. Photo by Walter Broschart from the H. George Friedman collection added 01/09/17.

NOPSI PERLEY THOMAS CAR No. 958:

Car 958 going uptown at S. Claiborne and Third St. in 1948. The school zone sign refers to the currently named Harney Elementary School. Third and Fourth St. bridge crossings over the canal can be seen as can the railroad track on the lakeside of the uptown streetcar track. Photo by Walter Broschart from the H. George Friedman collection added 01/09/17.


Car 958 going uptown near the same location as the 1948 photo above, but this one is dated 1949. Photo by Walter Broschart from the H. George Friedman collection added 01/11/17.

NOPSI PERLEY THOMAS CAR No. 960:

Car 960 at the S. Claiborne and S. Carrollton Aves. terminal. The White bus across Carrollton is operating either the S. Claiborne Shuttle or the Jefferson line. Photo backstamped W.H. You from the collection of H. George Friedman. Added 09/27/14.

NOPSI PERLEY THOMAS CAR No. 964:

Car 964 outbound at Howard Ave., Baronne, and St. Joseph Sts. in the late 1940s. Photo from H. George Friedman collection. Added 09/27/14.

NOPSI PERLEY THOMAS CAR No. 965:

Car 965 at S. Claiborne and S. Carrollton terminal in the 1940s. Joseph P. Russo photo from H. George Friedman collection. Added 01/11/12.

NOPSI PERLEY THOMAS CAR No. 967:

Car 967 signed for So. Claiborne is at Napoleon Station (Yard) in the late 1940s. Photo by Walter Broschart from the H. George Friedman collection added 01/11/17.

NOPSI PERLEY THOMAS CAR No. 968:

Car 968 at S. Claiborne and S. Carrollton terminal. The car has a destination of Foot Ball, suggesting it was serving Tulane Stadium located on the route. A dash sign advertises the Arthur Godfrey radio program. Photo from my collection. Added 01/25/12.

NOPSI PERLEY THOMAS CAR No. 971:

Car 971 outbound at Howard Ave., Baronne, and St. Joseph Sts. about 1950. Marmon trolley coach 1273 on the Freret line is behind the car. Photo from the collection of H. George Friedman. Added 09/27/14.

NOPSI PERLEY THOMAS CAR No. 972:

Car 972 going uptown at So. Claiborne and Washington Ave. in 1948. Here is the end of the railroad branch seen in the shots of 941 and 958 above. Photo by Walter Broschart from the H. George Friedman collection added 01/11/17.

NOPSI GMC No. 1804:

The as-delivered look of the earliest old looks is demonstrated by GMC 1804 as it lays over at So. Claiborne and So. Carrollton Aves. in late 1954 or early 1955. The headsign appears to be turned to "SO. CLAIBORNE SHUTTLE" although the latter word barely appears within the window. Run number is 30. Next to it is bus 1819, and behind the coaches is a filling station. The maroon that appears in the sunlight is beautiful. As-delivered means that the run number was indicated by the two digits in the headsign area (these would be route numbers on other transit systems) and that there were no express lamps on either side of the headsign. I believe the lamps were added when the Carrollton via Poydras branch was established in March 1955 and that future TDH 5105s came with lamps installed. At the same time, run numbers were moved into the curbside windshield and the full headsign area was used for the destination. Photo comes from a slide in my collection. Added 01/11/12.

NOPSI GMC No. 1807:

GMC 1807 on the South Claiborne bus line at Baronne and Julia Sts. on August 25, 1955. Note the track turnouts that truncate. A number of streetcar lines used to take Julia, particularly S. Claiborne in the 1920s. The tracks seen here used to carry Jackson until 1948 (upbound only) and the St. Charles and Tulane Belts until 1951 (both directions). After the belts were discontinued, St. Charles was rerouted down Carondelet and up St. Charles. The Baronne tracks were only used for Carnival reroutes; I'm told that streetcars heading down Baronne had to be flagged through against traffic going up. Overhead are twin wires for the Jackson trolley coach line, and a single wire over the river side streetcar track is visible. And at the curb in the foreground is a truck of Charles L. Franck Commercial Photography. Photo from Charles L. Franck / Franck-Bertacci Photographers Collection, The Historic New Orleans Collection. www.hnoc.org Added 01/11/12.

NOPSI GMC BUS No. 26:

GMC 26 is deadheading out Broadway at St. Charles to begin service on South Claiborne/Carrollton via Poydras in a slide taken by an unknown photographer April 25, 1973. Slide from my collection added 01/09/17.

NOPSI GMC BUSES No. 30 AND 285:

GMC buses 30 and 285 lay over at the South Claiborne (Napoleon via Melpomene) terminal on October 21, 1973. The yellow decal under the curbside headlights says "Exact Fare 15¢". Over bus 30 are two billboards; the right one is a political ad to elect Frank Minyard coroner and the left one advertises the "lagniappe" larger loaf of Sunbeam bread. Most NOPSI terminals had white bus stop signs as seen at left. Left side ad wing on 285 advertises Delta Airlines and Protect-O-Lite from the Public Service. Left side ad wing on 30 advertises WRNO-FM. The photo shows a good comparison of the marker light above the driver's side window. GM 5301s had a rectangular light; 5303s had a bullet type like earlier 5105s. Napoleon via Melpomene operated locally during the limited stop hours of Carrollton via Poydras, 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily except Sunday. Scan comes from a slide in my collection. Added 01/11/12.

NOPSI GMC No. 42:

GMC 42 on South Claiborne (Carrollton via Poydras) passes the tearing down of the St. Charles Hotel (another landmark lost to time) on St. Charles and Common Sts. about June 1974. The curbside express lamp is lighted, but the streetside one does not seem to be on. The lamps were displayed when this branch of South Claiborne was in operation, daily except Sunday, about 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. On the Busorama is advertisement for Newscene 8, broadcast on WVUE-TV, then the New Orleans ABC affiliate. The news team is listed on the rear ad panel: Alec Gifford, Nash Roberts, and Buddy Diliberto. Earl W. Hampton, Jr. photo. Added 01/11/12.

NOPSI GMC No. 307B:

GMC 307B (Blitz rebuild) on the South Claiborne-Carrollton via Poydras route at Carondelet and Common Sts. in late 1981 or early 1982. The Busorama ad wing asks for the election of Mayor Morial "for a greater New Orleans". Note the express lamps are lighted for this limited stop service. One photo added 01/11/12.

NOPSI GMC No. 313B:

GMC 313B (Blitz rebuild) on the South Claiborne-Napoleon via M.L. King route at Loyola and Tulane Aves. in late 1981 or early 1982. This bus also has an ad on the wings for reelection of Mayor Morial. One photo added 01/11/12.

NOPSI GMCs, UNKNOWN FLEET NUMBERS:

An unknown number GMC is stopped at Waterbury's drug store at S. Rampart and Canal Sts. on April 4, 1955. The trolley coach wires are for the Jackson route, and the bus is on the South Claiborne line. Photo from Charles L. Franck / Franck-Bertacci Photographers Collection, The Historic New Orleans Collection. www.hnoc.org Added 01/11/12.


Two 5301s (note square marker lamps on foreground bus) lay over at S. Claiborne and S. Carrollton about 1978. Neither bus has ad wings. Two photos added 01/11/12.

RTA GMC RTS No. 578:

RTS 578 on South Claiborne-Carrollton via M.L. King on a rainy July 17, 1983 (after RTA takeover). One photo added 01/11/12.

NOPSI GMC RTS No. 592:

RTS 592 on the Carrollton via Poydras branch of South Claiborne at Carondelet and Canal Sts. on April 25, 1980. Scan comes from a slide in my collection. Added 01/11/12.

RTA GMC RTS No. 637:

RTS 637 on Palmer Park at the So. Claiborne and So. Carrollton layover on July 17, 1983 (after RTA takeover). One photo added 01/11/12.

RTA GMC RTS No. 697L:

Lift-equipped RTS 697L on South Claiborne-Carrollton via M.L. King at So. Claiborne and So. Carrollton on July 17, 1983 (after RTA takeover). Two photos added 01/11/12.

RTA GRUMMAN FLXIBLE No. 712L:

Grumman 712L on the South Claiborne-Carrollton via M.L. King route at the Claiborne and Carrollton terminus on July 17, 1983 right after RTA takeover. Tastee Donuts is visible in the background. Two photos added 01/11/12.

RTA GRUMMAN FLXIBLE No. 721L:

A blurry photo of Grumman 721L at the South Claiborne terminus. One photo added 01/11/12.

RTA CARPENTER CBW-300 No. 1019:


Carpenter 1019 on the Palmer Park line at Claiborne and Carrollton in early 1984. Five photos added 01/11/12.

RTA NEW FLYER D40 No. 94022:

New Flyer 94022 on 16 Claiborne Poydras at both ends of the line, S. Carrollton and S. Claiborne Aves., and Carondelet and Canal Sts., on February 19, 1996. Two photos added 01/11/12.

RTA NEW FLYER D40 No. 94025:

New Flyer 94022 on 39 Tulane (covering the former Palmer Park route) at So. Claiborne and So. Carrollton Aves. on February 19, 1996. Two photos added 01/11/12.

RTA ORION VII No. 153:


Orion 153 on 16 South Claiborne at the Carrollton terminal on October 5, 2016. Fiver photos added 01/09/17.

RTA ORION VII No. 193:



Orion 193 on 16 South Claiborne at the S. Claiborne and S. Carrollton Aves. terminal on the evening of October 5, 2011. Eleven photos added 01/11/12.

RTA ORION VII No. 218:



Orion 218 on 16 South Claiborne is taking a Carnival parade detour via Canal St. and Elk Place on March 3, 2014. Twelve photos added 09/27/14.



Orion 218 on 16 South Claiborne outbound at Calhoun St. on March 6, 2014. Six photos added 09/27/14.

RTA ORION VII No. 220:


Orion 220 on 16 South Claiborne at Canal and Tchoupitoulas Sts. on October 2, 2016. Four photos added 01/09/17.

RTA ORION VII No. 235:

Orion 235 on 16 South Claiborne at Canal and Magazine Sts. on October 2, 2011. One photo added 01/11/12.


Interior shots of Orion 235 on October 2, 2011. Three photos added 01/11/12.



Orion 235 on 16 South Claiborne at the So. Claiborne and So. Carrollton terminal on October 2, 2011. Seven photos added 01/11/12.

RTA ORION VII No. 243:


Orion 243 on 16 South Claiborne at the Carrollton terminal on October 5, 2016. Six photos added 01/09/17.

RTA ORION VII No. 249:


Orion 249 (wrapped to advertise Louisiana Healthcare Connections) on 16 South Claiborne at Canal St. and Convention Center Blvd. on October 2, 2016. Five photos added 01/09/17.

RTA ORION VII No. 251:

Orion 251 on 16 S. Claiborne at S. Peters and Canal Sts. on October 4, 2011. Two photos added 01/11/12.