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El Paso, Texas

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title_world_us_elpaso.jpg

El Paso PCC 1506 turning at Oregon/Franklin inbound. Photo by Peter Ehrlich, 11/10/2018.

El Paso Streetcar

El Paso Streetcar is a 4.8-mile (7.7km) modern streetcar line that operates in a two-loop configuration. It runs from the downtown El Paso El Segundo Barrio out through the Central Business District, then out through Uptown El Paso to the UTEP Campus.

El Paso Streetcar opened for service on November 9, 2018. Unlike two other modern streetcar lines that also opened in the six-week period between November 3 and December 14, 2018, which equipped their systems with low-floor Brookville Liberty streetcars, El Paso chose a novel approach to its fleet of streetcars. It had six of its 1937-built, and long-stored, PCCs that had been stashed at the airport since 1974, remanufactured by Brookville Equipment Corp. to modern streetcar standards. These cars, originally built for San Diego, ran in El Paso on the only international streetcar line in North America, between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, across the Rio Grande, from 1950 to 1974. The rationale was to preserve the city’s transit heritage.

El Paso city government, when presented with the plan to return streetcars to the Sun City, chose the new loop, and approved the project in June 2014. Construction began in late 2015. The cost to build the El Paso Streetcar was initially $97 million. Construction was 95% complete by March 2018, and the first test run of the rebuilt PCCs took place on April 3, 2018. Much of the funding came from the Texas Department of Transportation.

As mentioned, there are two loops. The Downtown-only (short) loop begins at Santa Fe Street and S. 4th Avenue, where the carbarn and the downtown SunMetro Transit Center is located. The tracks then continue northwestward on Santa Fe Street, passing the El Paso Museum of Art and the minor-league baseball stadium, Southwest University Park. The line turns east at Franklin Avenue, and travels to Kansas Street, where it turns southeastward, runs through the Central Business District, then turns right (westward) at Father Rahm Avenue, through the barrio back to Santa Fe Street. The long "Figure 8" or Uptown loop switches off to go northwestward at Franklin Avenue and Stanton Street. The line climbs the long hill, lined with residences throughout, out to Baltimore Street, where it turns west for two blocks to the terminal at the Glory Road Transit Center, at the campus of UTEP. The tracks on Stanton Street, which start in the right lane, move to the middle of the street at Arizona Avenue for the outbound climb to make room for a protected bicycle lane. The inbound ride is on Oregon Street, and the line passes through Las Colinas Medical Center on the way back to Franklin Avenue. On Oregon Street, the tracks are entirely in the right lane. After reaching Franklin, cars running the "Figure 8" loop will continue to Kansas Street and the short loop.

The line is owned by the City of El Paso, and is operated by SunMetro, the El Paso transit agency. Initially, when the line opened in 2018, three cars were assigned to the long "Figure 8" loop, and one to the downtown-only loop. But the service was hard-hit by the pandemic outbreak, and was suspended for a lengthy period. Gradually, service is returning on a piecemeal, but somewhat erratic, basis. Regular SumMetro fares are charged, but there are times when the service has been free.

The six PCCs were remanufactured by Brookville between 2015 and 2019. 1511 and 1515 are painted in National City Lines “Fruit Salad” livery, used in the 1950s; 1504 and 1514 are painted in green, with a dark green belt rail and a white roof, the color scheme of the 1960s; and 1506 and 1512 wear the 1970s edition, sporting the same green base color as the 1960s livery, but with a red belt rail and typical St. Louis Car below-the-roof moulding. The roof stayed white. The cars are air-conditioned, using A/C units similar to those on Boston’s Mattapan-Ashmont PCCs and Philadphhia’s Brookville-remanufactured PCC-IIs. They use pantographs for current collection. Other than the pans and A/C, they maintain their 1937 as-built appearance, and still ride on Clark B-2 trucks. All cars have wheelchair lifts at the rear door, and there are bicycle racks inside the cars. They all also have Wi-Fi capability.

El Paso Streetcar was the second of four new systems that opened for service over an amazing six-week period in 2018. The other were Milwaukee (November 3); St. Louis-Delmar Loop Trolley (November 16, but currently not operating); and Oklahoma City (December 14).

Photo locations: Downtown Transit Center (Santa Fe Street & Fourth Avenue), Santa Fe/3rd, Overland (Santa Fe & Overland Avenue), Convention Center (Santa Fe & Sheldon Court), Cleveland Square (Franklin Avenue & El Paso Street), Santa Fe/Franklin, Franklin/Oregon, San Jacinto (Franklin & Mesa Street), Franklin/Stanton, Missouri (Stanton Street & Missouri Avenue), Montana (Stanton & Yandell Avenue), Stanton/Rio Grande, Arizona (Stanton & Arizona Avenue), Cathedral (Stanton & California Avenue), Stanton/Cliff, Stanton/Crosby, Stanton/Schuster, Rim (Stanton & Rim Road), Kern (Stanton & Kerbey Avenue), Stanton/Boston, Cincinnati District (Stanton & Cincinnati Avenue), Stanton/Baltimore, Baltimore (Baltimore Drive & Mesa), Glory Road Transit Center (Oregon Street & Glory Road), Oregon/Robinson, Boston (Oregon & Boston Avenue), University (Oregon & University Avenue), Oregon/Blanchard, Hague (Oregon & Hague Road), Oregon/Rim, Schuster (Oregon & Rim Road), Oregon/Crosby, Cliff (Oregon & Cliff Drive), Oregon/River, Oregon/California, Oregon/Nevada, Oregon/Arizona, Rio Grande (Oregon & Rio Grande Avenue), Yandell (Oregon & Yandell), Arts District (Oregon & Missouri), Franklin/Kansas, Kansas/Main, City Hall (Kansas Street & Mills Avenue), Courthouse (Kansas Street & San Antonio Avenue), Kansas/Overland, 1st Avenue (Kansas Street & First Avenue), Kansas/Paisano, Kansas/3rd, Kansas/Father Rahm, Stanton (Father Rahm Avenue & Stanton), Father Rahm/Mesa, Father Rahm/Oregon, El Paso (Father Rahm Avenue & El Paso), El Paso PCC interior, El Paso cars at Brookville Equipment Corp., Maintenance Facility

Five Random Images

Image 160189

(639k, 1024x646)
Photo by: Peter Ehrlich
Location: Cleveland Square (Franklin Avenue & El Paso Street)

Image 160191

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Photo by: Peter Ehrlich
Location: El Paso PCC interior

Image 160198

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Photo by: Peter Ehrlich
Location: Santa Fe/Franklin

Image 160230

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Photo by: Peter Ehrlich
Location: Cincinnati District (Stanton & Cincinnati Avenue)

Image 160246

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Photo by: Peter Ehrlich
Location: Oregon/Robinson
     


More Images: 1-50 51-88

El Paso City Lines

A traditional streetcar system linking El Paso and Ciudad Juárez operated until 1974. In its final years, 20 PCC streetcars obtained used from San Diego, CA made the international journey.

Five Random Images

Image 14213

(153k, 1024x675)
Collection of: Joe Testagrose

Image 14214

(155k, 1024x684)
Collection of: Joe Testagrose
Location: International Bridge

Image 14221

(203k, 1024x680)
Collection of: Joe Testagrose

Image 66928

(265k, 1044x788)
Photo by: Peter Schmidt

Image 160264

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Collection of: Peter Ehrlich
     


More Images: 1-25

Links

SunMetro Official Site

El Paso Streetcar (Wikipedia)

El Paso Mass Transit - City Lines (Wikipedia)

Page Credits

By Peter Ehrlich.









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