When Will The El Paso Streetcars Get Running Again?
You know I love me the downtown El Paso streetcar. I've been documenting it throughout its life in El Paso from when we first got news of the streetcar project right through to last year when the City announced that because of the COVID-19 pandemic that the streetcar project was being put on hold.
The City announced the the suspension of the streetcars on March 22, 2020. The kept the Sun Metro buses running but had strict guidelines about riding them. I was sad to see the streetcars being put away at the time but I thought it was only for a little while and necessary because social distancing was so important. no one could have guessed that we would see the world grind to a halt for a year. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has lifted the mask mandate and said that the state should reopen 100% so what does that mean for the streetcar?
I asked that question of the City of El Paso and I'm really sorry to say that no date for the return of the downtown streetcars has been set. Tammy Fonce, a City spokesperson told me in a phone interview earlier this week that the street cars won't be back on a daily schedule until further notice.
There is some good news for people who love to ride the streetcar, however. Fonce said that there is a plan in place to have the streetcars run during special events like concerts and festivals. You will remember that the City is facing a large budget deficit and the streetcar had not begun to make money for the City. It's my guess that that is why they are not going to bring the streetcars back on their daily runs yet.
Once special events kick back up, we will be able to jump back on the streetcars but because the City hasn't opened museums and there are no concerts or festivals scheduled as of yet, it might still be a while before the restored, vintage streetcars make their reappearance on downtown streets. You will see streetcars at least once a month or so regardless of special events because they have to be run from time to time as part of their standard maintenance. The week of March 15 will see streetcars operating for maintenance but not for riders. I can't wait to see them come back even if it is just for special events.