Wait, Is That the El Paso Streetcar I See? Yes, But It’s Only Temporary
A rare sight of late will return to Downtown El Paso this week.
The El Paso Streetcar will be silently winding its way through the downtown and uptown loops it used to call home pre-COVID-19 from September 21 to Friday, September 25.
But don't get too excited, Mr. The One Person Who Used to Ride It Regularly. It’s only for scheduled testing purposes the city must conduct as required by federal regulations. It’s still officially not operating and will not be picking up passengers. Which, lets' be honest, won’t be much different than when it was operational.
Testing is scheduled between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily, according to the city press release. Streetcars will run the routes multiple times during each day.
The city initially suspended streetcar operations on March 22 in response to COVID-19. Service will remain suspended until further notice due to the budget shortfalls the City is facing because of the economic impact caused by the pandemic. El Paso sales tax dollars was one of the revenue streams keeping it running.
But it’s no secret the trolley was bleeding money even before coronavirus.
People weren't exactly clamoring to take a slow ride to UTEP. To say it has attracted much lower ridership than some on city council envisioned is putting it mildly. Which, ironically, would make it the perfect transportation in the COVID-19 era we’re currently in. At least six feet of space between people? No problem! You take the front of the streetcar and I’ll take the back.
While the streetcar is undergoing testing, the city reminds motorists and pedestrians to obey all safety measures along the route, such as:
- Never stop your vehicle on the tracks.
- Obey all crossing signals and signage.
- Never walk, run or ride your bicycle along the streetcar tracks.
- Keep a safe distance between yourself and the streetcars.