El Paso Streetcar
|El Paso Streetcar|
|Locale||El Paso, Texas, U.S.|
|Opened||November 9, 2018|
|Character||streetcar in mixed traffic|
|Rolling stock||6 refurbished PCC streetcars|
|Line length||4.8 mi (7.7 km) (round trip)|
|Number of tracks||1|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
|Electrification||650 V DC|
The El Paso Streetcar is a streetcar system in El Paso, Texas, that opened for service on November 9, 2018, and uses a fleet of restored PCC streetcars that had served the city's previous system until its closure in 1974. The system covers 4.8 miles (7.7 km) (round trip) in two loops from Downtown El Paso to University of Texas at El Paso. The system was constructed under the authority of the Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority, but when the major construction was completed, around spring 2018, it was transferred to Sun Metro, for operation and maintenance. As of 2016, construction of the system was projected to cost $97 million.
Historically, the cities of El Paso and Ciudad Juárez relied on a unified streetcar system across the Rio Grande which initially consisted of horse and mule-drawn trolleys, which were replaced by the first electrified street cars in 1902. In 1913, the first urban streetcar lines appeared. Between 1920 and 1925, there were 52 miles of trolley system, with 2.1 million passengers using the service in 1922. The increasing availability of the automobile led El Paso to abandon most of its streetcar infrastructure in the 1940s, with the exception of the international line, which was renewed with 20 PCC streetcars from San Diego in 1950.
At 6 p.m. on the September 4, 1974, the last remaining cars in use made their final trip. They were taken to a desert area by the airport, where they eventually rusted and decayed.
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On June 5, 2012, the city council unveiled a new route, creating a narrow loop for the service; streetcars would travel north on Stanton Street, turn left at Glory Road/Baltimore, then south on Oregon Street. A downtown loop runs east on Franklin Avenue, south on Kansas Street, west on Father Rahm, and north on Santa Fe Street. The El Paso City Council approved going forward with the project in July 2014.
Construction began in late December 2015. In November 2016, the city disclosed that construction funds had been extorted in a phishing scam perpetrated by an entity posing as a contractor – most of the funds had been recovered by the time it was publicly announced. By March 2018, construction was 95 percent complete. The first of the refurbished streetcars was received on March 19, 2018, and the first test trip on the line under power was made on April 3.
The system opened on Friday, November 9, 2018. On the three-day opening weekend, just six of the 27 stops were being served, from Santa Fe & 4th to Kansas & Mill, but all other stops were due to open on Monday, November 12, 2018. Fares are based on Sun Metro's fare structure, which means a $1.50 fare for riders not qualifying for any reduction. All rides will be free on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays until January 6, 2019.
City officials expressed their desire to preserve the history of El Paso by refurbishing the old PCC streetcars that once made their way through Downtown from 1949 to 1974. The city had about eight streetcars, which were stored in a desert area at the El Paso International Airport. These cars were originally manufactured in 1937 for service in San Diego, California.
Work to restore six cars to operating condition began in 2015 and is being carried out by Brookville Equipment Corporation. The cars are painted in color schemes used by the previous El Paso streetcar system from the 1950s until its closure in the 1970s, with three different versions – representing the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, – used on two cars each. Modifications to the cars included the installation of wheelchair lifts, to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the addition of air-conditioning. They have kept their original fleet numbers of 1504, 1506, 1511, 1512, 1514, and 1515.
The first of the restored streetcars, No. 1506, was received from Brookville on March 19, 2018. By mid-October, five of the six had been received. The last of the six streetcars to complete its restoration, No. 1511, was received on December 19, 2018.
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- Perez, Elida S. (March 19, 2018). "Welcome home! Streetcar No. 1506 arrives in Downtown El Paso". El Paso Times. Retrieved 2018-11-10.
- "Brookville delivers 100th streetcar vehicle and 50th PCC streetcar in 2018, a fitting commemoration of a century in rail equipment manufacturing" (Press release). Brookville Equipment Corporation. October 15, 2018. Retrieved 2018-11-10.
- Lambie, Mark R. (December 19, 2018). "The final car in the fleet: PCC Streetcar 1511 arrives in El Paso". El Paso Times. Retrieved 2018-12-21.
- Valencia, Jamel (December 19, 2018). "Last of six streetcars makes it to El Paso". KFOX-TV. Retrieved 2018-12-21.