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2 San Diego Uptown News | September 2–15, 2011


Vintage streetcars embrace past and future All aboard the Silver Line

By Jocelyn Maggard SDUN Reporter

ego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) will be selling commemo- rative tickets to ride the recently opened vintage streetcar around the Silver Line loop. A refurbished streetcar,


built circa 1946, began taking the public on a roundtrip ride through Downtown on Saturday August 27. After 3,000 volunteer hours

and $85,000 of private money, the trolley was ready to ride. MTS Chairman Harry Mathis

had the dream to bring streetcars back to San Diego. Mathis found a vintage trolley car in Lake Tahoe where it had been rusting under pine trees. “The car you see today is in

many respects better than it was when it left the factory in 1946,” said Mathis. “This beautiful ve- hicle is like a time machine. Rid- ing on it can take you back to the

abor Day weekend marks the last weekend the San Di-

days when these wonderful street cars were in service all over San Diego.” In July 2005, The San Diego

Vintage Trolley Inc., a non-prof- it subsidiary, was approved by the MTS Board of Directors to raise funds to restore the trolley so it could run on San Diego’s streets again. In 1892, John D. Spreckels

used his entrepreneurial smarts to launch the San Diego Electric Railway Company after buying a failed streetcar operation, bring- ing streetcars to the city. When streetcars declined in

popularity during the 1930’s in the wake of busses and the success of Henry Ford, the President’s Conference Committee created the PCC Streetcar by improving the style and comfort of the cars, spurning a renaissance in the mode of transportation. The vintage trolley, also

called streetcar #529, is one of the 5,000 PCC cars that were manufactured between 1937 and 1949. San Diego operated 28

Robb Schupp, Director of Mar-

keting and Communications for MTS, said MTS is conducting the City/Park Streetcar Feasibility Study

The project was first present-

ed in April and it will go through workshops until the report is ex- amined in November according to the project’s Steering Commit- tee calendar. The report will cost $117,500.

SDG&E will put forth $11,400 and a little over a thousand dol- lars will come from MTS, and Caltrans will pay the rest, said Schupp. No public money has been used in the restoration and no public money will be used for the study, he added. When the uptown neighbor-

Conductor John De Lalla stands out front of the refurbished vintage streetcar that opened for rides around Downtown on August 27. (Photo by Jocelyn Maggard)

cars during that time. Ray Krum, resident of San

Diego and enthusiast of anything that runs on a track, remembers riding the streetcars around the city as a teenager; he took a ride and said he enjoyed his ride on the refurbished car he took on the morning of August 28. He noticed many similarities be-

tween streetcar #529 and the origi- nals, but said the window cranks were new additions and that push- ing in knobs on the side of the win- dow opened the old windows. Along with Krum, there were

approximately 20 passengers aboard the trolley, and an MTS


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representative selling tickets at the transit center said there were almost 200 riders the previ- ous day. The Silver Line starts at the

transit center on 12th Street and Imperial Ave. and travels along Harbor Drive to C Street and then goes to Park Boulevard, returning to the transit center. Mathis says streetcar #529

isn’t it for San Diego; there are five more ready to be restored. Balboa Park celebrates its

100th birthday in 2015 and there is the hope a vintage trolley will run from Downtown to the Park in time for the Centennial.

hoods were being developed, PCC cars offered access to the neighborhoods from the down- town area, and the Feasibility study looks into adding cars back into these areas. City Council Member Todd

Gloria rode streetcar #529 on its maiden voyage on August 18 and spoke favorably of the new mode of transportation. “Looking to the past has giv-

en us great ideas for improving public transportation for San Di- ego,” said Councilmember Todd Gloria. “The Silver Line will add a fun and useful element to our current trolley service, and more streetcars will improve mobil- ity through our urban neighbor- hoods.” Streetcar #529 will run around

the Silver Line loop on the week- ends and select holidays. Tickets are $2 for adults and $1 for se- niors and disabled passengers.u

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