The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) debuted its second vintage streetcar on its downtown Silver Line loop service on Monday.
After months of meticulous repairs, creating and replacing worn out sections, painting, and passing a rigid inspection, Centennial Car #530 is now fully operational and ready for service. The restored trolley honors Balboa Park’s Centennial Celebration and will also be a part of a year-long pilot program to educate third grade students about San Diego’s past and present.
Officials from MTS, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), the San Diego Unified School District and a group of Washington Elementary School third-graders cut the ribbon Monday marking the beginning of service for Centennial Car #530 — one day shy of a year after its arrival in San Diego.
“The addition of Centennial Car #530 means MTS can offer more reliable service on the Silver Line so passengers can enjoy a piece of San Diego’s streetcar history,” said MTS Board Chairman Harry Mathis. “This is a fantastic partnership between MTS, SDG&E and the San Diego Unified School District to educate the public about San Diego’s extraordinary past and allowing it to be part of our future.”
The 68-year old streetcar was acquired as part of a trade with United Transportation Corporation (UTC)/Rail Air Sources (RAS) in exchange for two Siemens U-2 light rail vehicles that were phased out of the MTS fleet. San Diego’s U-2s will be displayed at rail museums in Suisun City, California and Rockhill Furnace, Pennsylvania. The restoration costs were underwritten, in part, by a SDG&E grant.
Additionally, SDG&E provided funding so that San Diego Unified School District third grade students could ride transit downtown, including the historic vintage trolley cars. This education program gives third-graders real-world perspective riding modern and historic modes of public transit. Vintage trolley riders will also see SDG&E, Balboa Park, San Diego Unified School District and MTS historic photos displayed above the windows inside both vintage trolleys, which will alternate operating on the Silver Line.
The Silver Line runs a downtown loop in a clockwise direction only. It begins at the 12th & Imperial Transit Center along the Green Line to America Plaza and then along the Blue/Orange Line back to the 12th & Imperial Transit Center. The full 2.7-mile round trip takes 25 minutes and runs every 30 minutes on Tuesdays, Thursdays and on weekends. The Vintage trolley connects to all MTS routes that serve Balboa Park including Routes 3 and 120 which serve the Park’s west side and routes 7 and new Rapid 215 which serve stops on Park Boulevard.