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Double decker tour buses hit streets of New Orleans

Double decker tour buses hit streets of New Orleans

Our latest hop-on, hop-off tour launches in New Orleans, USA.

Katherine Sayre of local New Orleans newspaper, The Times-Picayune, tells us:

You've seen them in tourist towns around the globe. The red, double-decker buses with an open-air platform on top, toting visitors around town, a chatty guide narrating the journey.

Those hop-on, hop-off buses will soon be a regular fixture in downtown New Orleans. They're the latest in a series of newfangled tourist transit options, particularly around the French Quarter, where pedicabs and Segways now compete with mule-drawn carriages for visitor cash.

Starting Thursday, City Sightseeing New Orleans will operate five buses on a loop -- with four buses on the streets at any given time -- allowing riders to get off and on at various stops along the way.

City Sightseeing, an international company with local franchises, currently operates in 96 cities, including San Francisco and New York. The local franchise is owned by Michael Valentino, a French Quarter hotelier, and Warren Reuther, owner of several hotels and the Paddlewheeler Creole Queen. The company made its start in Seville, Spain.

The route travels along major arteries around the French Quarter, the Warehouse District, the Central Business District and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Buses are expected to pass by each of the nine stops every 20 minutes or half-hour.

Valentino said in his years traveling in the tourism industry, he noticed the open-air double-decker buses in many historic cities around the world.

"I was always intrigued with it," Valentino said. He wondered: "Why doesn't New Orleans have this?"

"We think the city will embrace us," he said during a news conference on Wednesday, flanked by city and state leaders.

The guided tours will be narrated live by hosts with the option of listening to recordings in seven languages: Spanish, French, Portuguese, German, Italian, Japanese and Chinese. There will also be recordings in two dialects: "Cajun" and "New Orleanian," company leaders said.

The tour will include stops near Mardi Gras World, Aquarium of the Americas, and the National World War II Museum.

Brian Furness, a French Quarter resident and board member of the French Quarter Citizens group, said his organization wouldn't have any concerns about the new buses as long as they stick to the major streets, such as Decatur and Rampart, where other buses already travel.

"It's hard to imagine that there's a significant problem with the quality of life within the French Quarter itself," in connection with the new buses, Furness said.

Meg Lousteau, executive director of the Vieux Carre Property Owners, Residents and Associates group, said there's potential for the buses to draw tourists across the city. "But we hope this won't continue to overload the French Quarter with visitors," she added.

Peter Boese, the National World War II Museum's director of sales, said he hopes the new bus routes will bring tourists who might otherwise remain in the French Quarter to other parts of the city.

"If they have the means to venture out and explore the rest of the city, it's going to be a great opportunity for them to see other attractions," Boese said.

Boese said he's taken rides on the open-air buses in London. New Orleans' warm climate will work in its favor, he said.

The double-decker buses will run 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Prices are $40 for an adult single day ticket.

With tour guides and drivers, the company will employ 36 full-time workers.

City Sightseeing will operate ticket offices in Jackson Square at 700 Decatur St. and the Basin Street Station at 501 Basin St. The company also plans to re-open and maintain public restrooms at Washington Artillery Park.

Find out more about the tour and to buy tickets click here

Return to News HomepagePublished Date: 25/09/2012 12:32:00 by Stephen Morgan

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