Old Pueblo Trolley
|Old Pueblo Trolley|
The Old Pueblo Trolley car 869 at its University of Arizona terminus
|Termini||5th Avenue (West)
Tyndall Avenue (East)
|Services||Friday, Saturday, and Sunday service|
|Daily ridership||33,000 annually|
|Opening||April 17, 1993|
|Closed||October 8, 2011 (temporarily)|
|Owner||Old Pueblo Trolley, Inc.|
|Operator(s)||Old Pueblo Trolley|
|Rolling stock||4 trolleys|
|Track length||1 mile|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
|Electrification||600 V DC, overhead wire|
|Old Pueblo Trolley|
(Not all stops shown)
Old Pueblo Trolley is a heritage streetcar system in Tucson in the U.S. state of Arizona, opened in 1993. The trolley last ran on October 31, 2011 before service was suspended during construction of the Sun Link modern-streetcar system.
Operating on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Old Pueblo ran on just over a mile of single-track line recovered from Tucson's original street railway. From its south terminus at 5th avenue and Broadway Boulevard the trolley ran north on 4th Avenue before heading east on University Boulevard to its terminus at Tyndall Street, just west of the University of Arizona Main Gate.
Tucson's original streetcar system
Electric streetcars began operating in Tucson on June 1, 1906, and replaced the horse- and mule-drawn cars as a mark of Tucson's "modernity". The event drew quite a crowd including the mayor, L.H. Manning and C.K. Durbin, owner of the new line. The Tucson Citizen ran an article "Electric Cars Running in Old Pueblo" in its Friday, June 1, 1906 edition.
It reported that two new electric cars left the corner of Stone Avenue and Congress Street at 2:00 P.M. for the University of Arizona filled with dignitaries and invited guests while an orchestra played a few tunes at the corner. The return trip was to Elysian Grove via Seventeenth where Emanual Drachman provided seats and refreshments for the banquet that followed. One car wore the banner, "The Goods Are Delivered L. H. M.", demonstrating that Mayor Manning had come through on his campaign platform to "promote and establish an electric streetcar system." Hence, Tucson was brought up to date, into the electric transportation era.
Streetcars ran for the last time on December 31, 1930, and were replaced by buses.
The heritage streetcar line
Revival of the line began as the dream of Ruth Cross, director for the University of Arizona's Centennial Celebration in 1983, to see the historic street cars returned to the Old Pueblo for the University's centennial. A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Old Pueblo Trolley (OPT), was formed to raise funds and coordinate planning with the city and business community, and volunteers also donated time to move the idea forward.
The Old Pueblo Trolley heritage streetcar line was inaugurated on April 17, 1993. Two trolley cars were available for service when the line opened, and were operated in the inaugural runs: Car 10, a 1918-built Birney-type car that was ex-Pacific Electric Railway 332 and was under lease to OPT from the Orange Empire Railway Museum, and car 255, ex-Osaka, Japan (Hankai Electric Tramway), which was built in 1953. Car 255 had been in service in Osaka until June 1992. The Birney car used a trolley pole, while the Japanese car used a pantograph, as it had on its home system. Before entering service, Birney car 10 was repainted from PE colors into the old livery of the former Tucson streetcar system, whose fleet had included an ex-Douglas, Arizona, Birney car of the same type, which was in service until the abandonment of the old Tucson system in 1930. Car 10's lease had started in 1985, but restoring it to operating condition took time and money, and only in 1991 did the car operate in Tucson for the first time under its own power. Before the start of public service in 1993, the Birney car operated occasionally for special events, for members of the OPT group.
The line that opened as a heritage streetcar in 1993 used a combination of old, abandoned, paved-over track along University Avenue that was uncovered and rehabilitated, and new track along 8th Avenue and along 4th Avenue. Most of the line is two-way single-track, but it includes some double-track. Workers from Tucson Electric Power installed the overhead trolley wire, in some cases as volunteers.
Car 10's lease from the Orange Empire Railway Museum expired in March 1995, and the museum was not willing to extend it, so car 10 ran in Tucson for the last time on June 4, 1995, and was moved back to OERM on June 9. The previous month, the 1953 ex-Osaka car returned to service after a 9-month overhaul that included restoring its original identity as Kyoto 869.
Meanwhile, additional historic trolleys were being acquired, to replace the Birney car and expand the fleet. Ex-Brussels, Belgium, car 1511, a two-axle car built in 1936, arrived in April 1995, having been stored for several years in Phoenix, where plans to use it in a restaurant did not come to fruition. Toronto car 4608, a 1951 PCC streetcar, arrived in June 1996.
At 4:00 PM on August 20, 2009 the new 4th Avenue Underpass and 5th Avenue Loop were opened for traffic. The new 5th Avenue Loop runs west along Congress Street to Fifth Avenue, south on Fifth Avenue to Broadway Boulevard and west on Broadway Boulevard to the intersection of Congress Street and Fourth Avenue. New car stops on the Fifth Avenue Loop are at Ninth Street, Fifth Avenue and Congress Street.
In May 2006, the Regional Transportation Plan was adopted by a vote of almost 60% in favor. This election also passed a 20-year, 1/2-cent sales tax to finance the transportation improvements. Among the items in the plan was $75 million for the Sun Link modern streetcar system which will follow the alignment of the Old Pueblo Line with extensions west through downtown to the Mercado District and north-east through the University of Arizona campus to the Arizona Health Sciences Center. The approved funds are a match to an equal amount of Federal Transit Administration funding. The new system will be double-tracked, replacing the original OPT single track. A maintenance facility will be located just west of the present OPT car barn and yard on 9th Street west of 4th Avenue.
Old Pueblo Trolley suspended operations in October 2011. Construction of the new system began in April 2012 and will continue until late 2013, when it is hoped that historic trolley operation will resume on weekends and for special events.
- List of Arizona railroads
- List of heritage railroads in the United States
- List of town tramway systems in the United States
- Sun Tran
- Herlihy, Barry H. (June 1993). "Tucson Welcomes Historic Trolley". Passenger Train Journal, pp. 14–15. Interurban Press.
- Light Rail and Modern Tramway, July 1993, p. 194. UK: Ian Allan Publishing/Light Rail Transit Association.
- Younger, Jamar (October 11, 2011). "Tucson's historic trolleys will suspend operations until 2013". Arizona Daily Star.
- Young, Andrew D. (1994). "Heritage Trolleys: A Year of More Ups than Downs". 1994 Light Rail Annual & User's Guide, pp. 57–61. Pentrex. ISSN 0160-6913.
- Sebree, Mac (July 1993). "Transit [news column]". Pacific RailNews. p. 46. Retrieved June 8, 2012.
- Young, Andrew D. (Autumn 1993). "Past is Present". The New Electric Railway Journal. pp. 29–34. Retrieved June 7, 2012.
- Light Rail and Modern Tramway, Sep. 1995, p. 309. UK: Ian Allan Publishing/Light Rail Transit Association.
- "Canadian trolley to run in Tucson" (June 21, 1996). Arizona Daily Star.
- Arizona Rail Passenger Association newsletter, August 1993
- ARPA description of OPT
- Hooves and Rails, A History Of The Tucson Street Railway (1897-1906)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Old Pueblo Trolley.|
- Old Pueblo Trolley website
- Light Rail Now's description of a modern Tucson streetcar (2006), with some info. and photos of the OPT heritage line