San Diego — PCC Heritage Line About to Open
Rail Transit Online, June 2011
The Silver Line, a downtown loop operated by an exquisitely restored PCC streetcar, will begin running on weekends and holidays this summer, possibly by mid-July.
The car is one of two acquired in late 2005 by San Diego Vintage Trolley Inc. (SDVTI) from Gunnar Henrioulle, who purchased them from the San Francisco Municipal Railway and stored them on his property in South Lake Tahoe for about 20 years. Henrioulle was hoping to use the cars for a heritage streetcar line in Sacramento or in the Lake Tahoe resort area but failed to receive any substantive support.
The first car has been undergoing restoration at San Diego Trolley's maintenance base and has emerged as a near replica of the 28 PCCs that operated in San Diego from 1936 to 1949, when the original streetcar system was scrapped. The 1948-built car carries the same novel paint scheme promoting local tourist attractions and carries No. 529, extending the initial PCC sequence that ended at No. 528.
The major visible differences are the addition of modern wheels, an electronic destination sign and a contemporary pantograph; a trolley pole has been mounted but is inoperative. A transponder and other new communications equipment have also been installed. To meet ADA requirements a wheelchair lift has been fitted at the front entrance, requiring all non-handicapped
passengers to enter through the center doors where a conductor will collect cash fares.
The car's renovation has been completely paid for by nearly $300,000 in grants and donations plus 10,000 hours of volunteer labor valued by Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) board chairman Harry Mathis at up to
$600,000. Mathis has been a driving force behind the project, which has since acquired four additional PCCs that could be put back in operating condition if funding becomes available. No. 529's ownership has officially been transferred to MTS from SDVTI, itself a non-profit subsidiary of the transit agency, and it now only needs state regulatory approval to start carrying passengers.
The Silver Line will be a clockwise loop starting at the 12th Avenue/Imperial station and running north along the Trolley's Bayfront
segment to the junction adjacent to the Santa Fe Depot. The car will then turn then east on C Street to Park Boulevard/12th Avenue where it will head south to the starting point.
The fare will be $2 with a 50-percent discount for seniors. Numerous downtown traffic generators will be served including the convention center, the waterfront and its high-rise residential area, the historic Gaslamp District, City College, Horton Plaza and the Petro Park baseball stadium.