The New Orleans City Council's Transportation Committee agreed Tuesday to defer a vote on a proposed ordinance that would ban a new tourist attraction called "Ride the Ducks" from operating in the French Quarter, pending further discussion. Committee members made clear, however, that they were only delaying the inevitable.
Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer, whose district includes the French Quarter, said the historic neighborhood is already under extreme pressure from a variety of tourism-related vehicles including double-decker buses, pedicabs, Segways, scooters and mule-drawn carriages.
"We have a higher responsibility to protect that place, and we haven't done a very good job," Palmer said.
Gray Line Tours is seeking permission to operate three "ducks," which are based on amphibious World War II supply transport vehicles. Each duck has a capacity of up to 37 people. They would operate up to four tours a day during the busy tourist season, for an estimated total of 50,000 riders per year.
The duck tours would start at the Toulouse Street wharf on the Mississippi River, take North Peters Street to Canal Street to City Park Avenue, jump on Interstate 10, and exit on Bonnabel Boulevard to access the boat launch on Lake Pontchartrain. The entire trip would take up to two hours including a 25-minute ride on the lake.
The proposed ordinance would prohibit amphibious tour vehicles from operating in District A, represented by Councilwoman Susan Guidry, and District C, represented by Palmer.