Silver Line (San Diego Trolley)
Car 529 at Convention Center station (March 2014).
|Other name(s)||SDG&E Silver Line|
|Type||Light rail, Heritage streetcar|
|System||San Diego Trolley|
|Status||Running limited service Friday through Sunday except holidays|
|Locale||San Diego, California|
|Termini||12th & Imperial Transit Center|
|Ridership||32,944 (FY 2015)|
|Website||San Diego Vintage Trolley|
|Opened||August 27, 2011|
|Owner||Metropolitan Transit System|
|Operator(s)||San Diego Trolley, Inc.|
|Character||Unidirectional clockwise at-grade loop around Downtown San Diego|
|Rolling stock||2 PCC streetcars|
(5 additional cars pending longer-term restoration)
|Line length||2.7 mi (4.3 km)|
|Number of tracks||Travels on only 1 track of 2|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
|Electrification||600 V DC Overhead lines|
|Operating speed||45 mph (72 km/h) (max)|
The Silver Line (officially the SDG&E Silver Line) is a 2.7-mile (4.3 km) heritage streetcar light rail line operated by the San Diego Trolley, an operating division of the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System. It currently operates the "downtown loop"; a circle of tracks around Downtown San Diego, and is operated using renovated PCC streetcars. It is officially named after San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), which has provided grants to help restore at least one of the streetcars, as well as sponsoring a free educational program for third graders on the vintage line.
The Silver Line is the fourth line in the San Diego Trolley system as well as the first circular route with service beginning in 2011. Planning for the Silver Line dates back to the early 1990s, upon the completion of the Downtown Loop, consideration was given to providing a downtown trolley service that circles around the loop. MTS (then MTDB) originally considered using three Vienna Class N1 cars formerly used on the Wiener Stadtbahn in Vienna, Austria, but their age and limited power proved incompatible with the present trolley system, and renovations to make them so were considered unfeasible.
Eventually in 2005, MTS would settle on using PCC streetcars; which were formerly used by the San Diego Electric Railway, San Diego's former transit service, in the 1930s and 40s. Between 2005 and 2010, MTS acquired six PCC streetcars formerly used in San Francisco and Philadelphia, and would partner with the San Diego historic streetcar society, a non-profit organization developed to educate the public of the history of the San Diego Electric Railway, to help restore these streetcars for use on the eventual line.
In early 2011 the first of these streetcars, Car 529, was completed and inauguration of the Silver Line began on August 27, 2011. Restoring this car for use in the trolley system required over 3,000 volunteer hours and $850,000 in donations. For the first two weeks of the vintage trolley's run, riders who boarded at the 12th & Imperial Transit Center received "commemorative tickets" to use for boarding the trolley. Due to the limited amount of streetcars, initial service for the line was limited to weekends and holidays every 30 minutes between the hours of 10 am to 2 pm. On December 20, 2011, service was expanded to Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 am to 2 pm as well as weekends and holidays from 11 am to 3:30 pm. It was expected that more service hours will be added upon the completion of additional streetcars.
Hours of operation
Due to the limited amount of streetcars, service for the line as of December 2015 only operated every 30 minutes during Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:52 am to 1:52 pm, as well as on weekends and select holidays from 10:52 am to 3:22 pm. As of July 2019, it was Friday 5:52 pm to 9:52 pm, Saturday 1:52 pm to 9:52 pm and Sunday 9:52 am to 5:52 pm except holidays.
|Silver Line |
(Heritage Streetcar Downtown Loop)
|12th & Imperial Transit Center|| Blue Line
|Serves Petco Park.|
Universal transfer station for all lines.
Terminus for Green and Silver Lines.
|Gaslamp Quarter||Green Line||Serves Gaslamp Quarter; also Convention Center & Petco Park.|
|Convention Center||Green Line||Serves Convention Center.|
|Seaport Village||Green Line||Serves Seaport Village.|
|America Plaza|| Blue Line
|Serves One America Plaza.|
Directly adjacent to Santa Fe Depot – so is an "indirect" transfer point for the Green Line.
Terminus for Blue Line.
|Civic Center|| Blue Line
|Serves City Hall, Courthouse, and Horton Plaza.|
|Fifth Avenue|| Blue Line
|Serves Downtown San Diego.|
|City College|| Blue Line
|Serves San Diego City College, San Diego High School.|
|Park & Market|| Blue Line
In March 2014, MTS took possession of a second 1946 Presidents Conference Committee (PCC) streetcar, destined to join the Silver Line fleet as Car #530. Restoration work on this trolley car, aided by a grant from San Diego Gas & Electric, took one year, and Car #530 entered service on the Silver Line on March 2, 2015, as part of the centennial celebrations for Balboa Park.
All cars have had pantograph current collection equipment added to them, as the overhead contact system that MTS operates is not compatible with trolley poles. The cars on the Silver Line retain their trolley poles, however, for visual effect.
MTS has longer-term plans to restore an additional five PCC streetcars to expand heritage streetcar service operations. It is yet to be announced when these streetcars will be restored for service operations. Original San Diego Trolley Siemens-Duewag U2 car 1001 is currently undergoing restoration, and it was partly unveiled in June 2019.
Due to its limited days and hours of operation, and due to some service interruptions throughout 2014, the Silver Line transported just 29,104 riders during FY 2014. In FY 2015, 32,944 riders rode the Silver Line according to the MTS.
Future service plans
Trolley Renewal Project
While the Silver Line has no plans to use the new Siemens S70 models, the stations along the line were scheduled to undergo restoration to improve service on the trolley system and to enable usage of the Siemens S70 on the Orange and Blue Lines, as part of the Trolley Renewal Project. All the stations served by the Silver Line have been renovated as of Fall 2013, so no further disruptions of service on this line are expected.
Balboa Park streetcar line
One of the future proposals for trolley expansion is to potentially extend the Silver Line from Downtown up towards Balboa Park and the Uptown communities. MTS began work in March 2011 on a study to evaluate the feasibility of reconnecting Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo and Downtown San Diego through a fixed-guideway, electrified 1.5-mile (2.4 km) streetcar line. The project study corridor runs between the City College Trolley Station area, and Balboa Park, in the vicinity of the San Diego Zoo. An alignment similar to the proposed one was last served by a streetcar system in 1949 on Line 7 (Park Boulevard-University Avenue to East San Diego) & Line 11 (Park Boulevard-Adams Avenue to Kensington). In October 2012, MTS released a study to evaluate the feasibility of reconnecting Balboa Park and downtown San Diego via an electrified streetcar corridor. This is the first step in the process to construct such a project. An initial timeline offered in the study for the project's completion was 5 years.
Proposed Balboa Park streetcar alignment
|Will serve San Diego Zoo.|
|Will serve most museums in Balboa Park.|
|Naval Medical Center
|Will serve Naval Medical Center.|
|Will serve Aerospace Museum, International Houses, and other facilities south of Spreckles Organ Pavilion.|
|San Diego High School
|Will serve San Diego High School.|
|Will serve San Diego City College.|
|City College|| Blue Line
|Serves San Diego City College, San Diego High School.|
|Continues to Downtown Loop.|
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