Clank Clank Clank Went the Trolley

The El Paso Times reported yesterday on the City’s streetcar debacle.

Sun Metro officials are looking for ways to boost ridership and bring in financial sponsorships for El Paso’s fledgling streetcar system, which has struggled to attract riders after getting off to a fast start late last year.

. . .

The streetcar system’s primary goal is to encourage business development along the route, Banasiak said, especially on Kansas Street and Father Rahm  Avenue on the southern edge of Downtown, and on Stanton Street, especially outside Downtown, Banasiak said.

Mr. Banasiak’s rationale is backwards from the way transportation projects are usually laid out. Usually, transportation projects start with a destination. Sun Metro hopes that once they lay out the transportation, a destination will develop.

Curious. But exactly the way the City has proceeded with all of the other “build it and they will come” Quality of Life projects.

There’s a reason they call it Cause and Effect and not Effect and Cause.

There’s no mention in the article of the free streetcar rides cannibalizing the other bus routes, but reliable sources have told me that in the evening, the streetcars are full of commuters dodging the $1.50 fare the buses charge.

El Paso loves free.

Sun Metro and other city agencies are trying to bring in streetcar sponsorships and advertising on the new, streetcar-tracking app as ways to generate revenue to help subsidize the service, and allow it to provide free rides, Banasiak said. 

That includes trying to sell naming rights for the streetcar system, such as was done in Cincinnati, Banasiak said. That Ohio city’s three-year-old streetcar system is named the Cincinnati Bell Connector because Cincinnati Bell, an Ohio communications company, is paying $3.4 million over 10 years for the system’s naming rights. That money helps subsidize the system, which has had problems meeting ridership expectations, according to published reports.

Really? Who would want their name associated with a fiscal money pit? The Titanic? Southwest University?

God bless those nice people at City Hall. Once they’re in, they’re in all the way.

They don’t care how much of our money they lose.


  1. Isn’t a transportation system also usually built to actually provide, you know……..transportation? Like from home to work, or something? Aren’t most transport systems usually behind the real need, instead of like this one? I seem to recall my old grandfather teaching me that when you put the cart before the horse, the cart don’t much move, ya know?

  2. Where on Kansas or Father Rahm or Stanton do you plan on starting businesses? Tear down homes to make space? Let’s face it, this system was designed to fail from the start.

  3. The city should change the name of this empty street car circus to: A Street Car named No Desire to Ride.

  4. And the worst part of this entire debacle is that the poorest people in the Downtown/First Ward/Second Ward area are the ones who were most negatively impacted by this streetcar. They closed down the 4 circulator bus route, which connected many of the folks living in the Opportunity Center and Rescue Mission with services downtown and in Segundo.

    Then, to make matters worse, Sun Metro service continues to get worse because so much of the agency’s operating costs go to the streetcar. The trains are beautiful, but it’s a completely gratuitous system that actually, materially makes poor people’s lives worse.

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