The City’s Streetcar Fetish

The City is facing budget shortfalls while the trolley is bleeding money because of a lack of riders.

The obvious solution is to stop the trolley. But that makes too much sense.

Maybe just run it on weekends, like the Tramway (when we used to have the Tramway) so we only have an empty trolley running two or three days a week.

Instead,the City is offering free rides while propping the trolley up with some kind of token donations from the private sector. I’m sure those private sector donors aren’t kicking in the full expense of operating the trolley, so the City is still losing money on the project.

Why would the City do that? Because our City officials were out drinking under the bleachers on the day their Civics teacher covered fiscal responsibility, and the trolley is part of the City’s long term plan. The City wants to run the trolley out to the medical school.

Which makes a lot more sense. Out to the Medical School, the trolley might at least serve a practical transportation purpose, unlike the current route, which is already serviced by four faster and more reliable bus routes.

So why didn’t the City plan the route out to the Medical School first?

Because the route out to the Medical School only serves a limited ridership. Just doctor students, and the poor folks who live on the south side. That might have been a little harder sell.

And lord knows the City doesn’t care for the people who live in Segundo.

And practical is not one of the criteria that the City relies in the decision-making process.

So the money we’re using to prop up the trolley now is just a prelude to another one of the City’s bad ideas.

And they didn’t even kiss us.


  1. And, God forbid they should ever try to fix a leak by actually shutting off the flow. As you say all the time, Richard, when you find yourself in a hole that is getting deeper? Just stop digging!

  2. Wait until you see the EPISD/ Texas Tech Land swap. Then the “private Investors” who want to “suburbanize” Segundo Barrio. You do remember La Placita? And the idea to turn downtown El Paso into a lookalike movie set like Tucson has? All were moneymakers weren’t they?

  3. I remember how so-called progressive politicians practically danced when the city received state funding for the streetcars, ignoring the long-term cost. The idea that they would serve a transportation purpose was phony from the beginning. One proponent was overjoyed that they would provide transportation from the Sunset to UTEP, as if the bus service somehow didn’t. The streetcars were never anything more than another misguided attempt to provide El Paso with a tourism draw by looking to the past. It’s the same nostalgia that leads some to continue to insist that promoting the wild west will bring tourists, and resulted in ruining the traditional San Jacinto Plaza with an enormous canopy held up by four huge concrete pillars to shade a sculpture honoring our history of abuse of alligators. The future would be brighter for El Paso if it were seen as a dynamic bilingual bicultural border city of the future with plans for a monorail crossing into Juarez. I cringe whenever I see the streetcars pass with one or two riders, even on nights when both downtown and the Cincinnati area are bustling. Public officials must be required to provide the taxpayers with the actual location and real cost of all projects in advance.

  4. The streetcars are beautiful, but that really isn’t enough. Maybe we could sell them on eBay to fund tramway repairs? Last time I was on the tram it was full of tourists.

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