River Street Streetcar

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River Street Streetcar
Car 756 of the River Street Streetcar line in Savannah, Georgia, USA, is an ex-Melbourne SW5-class streetcar.
River Street Streetcar line car 756.
Began service February 11, 2009[1]
Locale Savannah, Georgia United States
Start Montgomery Street
End East Broad Street
Length 1 mile (1.6 km)[2]
Journey time 12:00 noon - 9:00 pm
Operates Thursday - Sunday
Route map
River Street Streetcar
Montgomery Street
Barnard Street
City Hall ferry/water interchange Bus interchange
Abercorn Street
Habersham Street
East Broad Street ferry/water interchange
←   {{{system_nav}}}   →

The River Street Streetcar is a heritage streetcar line in Savannah, Georgia, in the United States. It began regular operation on February 11, 2009, and shuttles between six stops along River Street, next to the Savannah River.[1]


The first horsecars began operation in Savannah in 1869. Electric streetcars started operation in 1890 but were discontinued on August 26, 1946.[3] The Norfolk Southern Railway had owned the River Street branch line for years, operating the River Street Rambler, which was a local freight train, until 2003.

River Street as it appeared on September 10, 2005, with streetcar rails clearly visible. This photo was taken 4 years before the start of service.

The city of Savannah purchased the River Street Branch line right-of-way from Norfolk Southern in 2004[4] for approximately $600,000.[5] The streetcar now runs along the abandoned railroad tracks in the cobblestones on River Street east and west of City Hall.

To provide streetcar service a 1930s-era W5-class streetcar (#756), originally from Melbourne, Australia, was purchased by the city for about $207,000 and converted to power its motors with an onboard biodiesel-fueled generator and batteries as a hybrid drive for an additional $100,000.[5] Hence it is a form of diesel railcar. The streetcar was nicknamed "Dottie'" — a reference to the Savannah DOT that completed the project.[6][7] The service was introduced during the Climate Action Parade on December 9, 2008. Additional free rides were provided for a day on December 13, 2008.[8] Regular operations started on February 11, 2009.[1]

Schedule and stations[edit]

Car 756, "Dottie", at the carhouse

The streetcar operates Thursday through Sunday from noon to 9:00 pm.[6]

From west to east the station stops along the line are:[6]

  • Montgomery Street
  • Barnard Street
  • City Hall – Transit Terminal connection to city buses and the Savannah Belles ferry
  • Abercorn Street
  • Habersham Street
  • East Broad Street – connection to the Savannah Belles ferry to Hutchinson Island from Waving Girl Landing

Future expansion[edit]

In the spring of 2009 it was hoped that the operating schedule would be expanded to six days a week and operating hours will be extended hours to 10:00 pm each evening.[9] A second car for the current single-car service will allow for operation of a two-car train that will be bidirectional.

Later, the River Street Line may be extended to the city's Roundhouse Railroad Museum and Visitor Center, provided that Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard could have new streetcar tracks laid along it.[3] Other new lines have been planned, which most likely will run on abandoned railroad tracks throughout the city, such as on Fahm Street.[4]

While the River Street Line's streetcar operates on a biodiesel-fueled internal combustion engine, the future lines will probably be electrified by overhead wires. Either replica or vintage streetcars could be used for the future extensions. The restoration of Birney Safety Car #656, a single-truck streetcar, is another likelihood.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "River Street Streetcar begins passenger service today". City of Savannah News. February 11, 2009. Retrieved June 25, 2009. 
  2. ^ "Streetcar arrives in Savannah, Ga., for River Street duty". Savannah Morning News. November 20, 2008. Retrieved June 20, 2009. 
  3. ^ a b Morekis, James (November 19, 2008). "River Street streetcar arrives". Retrieved June 20, 2009. 
  4. ^ a b Bonner, Jeanne (May 11, 2009). "A Streetcar Named Savannah". Georgia Municipal Association. Retrieved June 25, 2009. 
  5. ^ a b "Streetcar Now Operational on River Street". February 23, 2009. Retrieved June 25, 2009. 
  6. ^ a b c "Connect the DOT". Retrieved March 21, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Savannah Waterfront Association". Retrieved June 25, 2009. 
  8. ^ "River Street Streetcar". WSAV-TV. Retrieved December 20, 2008. 
  9. ^ Conn, Lesley (February 4, 2009). "Savannah's River Street streetcar ready to debut". Savannah Morning News. Retrieved June 25, 2009. 

External links[edit]