El Paso

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El Paso
Posted by daveklepper on Monday, December 04, 2017 7:04 AM

The journalist didn’t have his facts straight about FDR and the PCC, but it is a good story for a change.


T


 

On Dec 3, 2017, at 9:59 AM, Edward Havens edhavens@gmail.com [SouthernStatesTraction] <SouthernStatesTraction@yahoogroups.com> wrote:




An op-ed column in the EL PASO Times says heritage PCC streetcars will be returning to the west Texas city after an absence of 44 years:Image result for El PAso PCC streetcarsImage result for El PAso PCC streetcars
Realizing our potential: Peter SvarzbeinPeter Svarzbein, Special to the Times 
Published 1:24 p.m. MT Dec. 2, 2017
 
We often talk about El Paso's authenticity; we celebrate its unique international culture; and we feel pride when the city is represented on a national or international level.
But, when we talk about its reached potential, we fall short. We lament the things we don't have: Six Flags, Disneyland, or even an Ikea, a River Walk bustling with business and tourism like San Antonio. That's where we are wrong. We could build our OWN unique attraction, that is not copying any other city. It's within our grasp.
Downtown is moving in the right direction, escaping some of the worst travesties of 60's urban renewal and is steadily on the rise with new restaurants, hotels, and entertainment.
And, soon, a new historic streetcar line, with very special streetcars will be brought back to life!
Just think, this is our opportunity to celebrate our past while building our future. It will be an amenity to show and share our unique border culture and history with the rest of the world. The streetcar route will be our River Walk.
This is no normal streetcar. El Paso's PCC Streetcar, short for Presidential Conference Car, is the very same model President Franklin Delano Roosevelt approved in 1935.
During the height of the great depression, he wanted Americans to build a streetcar that could run in any city, and thus, the PCC streetcar was born. Our streetcars are older than the famous San Francisco streetcars. And, what’s most unique is that it's the very same streetcar that at one point traveled over 500 times a day between Juárez and El Paso. The renovated streetcars will have new motors, free WiFi, A.C. and heat, with bike racks, and ADA accessibility so every El Pasoan can enjoy the ride.
Let's just realize its potential. According to AARP, Tampa created over 600 million in private investment with a $65 million streetcar line.
Imagine this: You park at the Glory Road Transfer Center on a Saturday afternoon and hop on an historic art-deco PCC Streetcar.
Traveling down Oregon street, the sights of Downtown El Paso and Juárez start to envelop you. There are shops and new residences.
You can stop at the Hal Marcus Gallery, Savage Goods Vegan Bakery & Café, Artspace lofts, before turning left onto Franklin street. Hop off here and walk down to San Jacinto Plaza. There, marvel at some of Henry Trost's most iconic and historic buildings: the Cortez Hotel, the Mills Building, the Plaza Hotel, just to name a few.
Or, maybe just play a game of ping pong at the placita. After Franklin street, the streetcar makes a right on Kansas, passing by Hotel Indigo, Aloft Hotel at the Bassett Tower, City Hall and the County Courthouse (and the Tap, too!).
Next, as you pass over Paisano, the trolley will take you down to one of our most important and vibrant neighborhoods, Segundo Barrio. You can visit Sacred Heart Church, grab a pan dulce at Bowie Bakery and check out the myriad of murals that adorn this proud neighborhood. As the streetcar continues and turns right on Santa Fe, it passes by bustling El Paso street and Paseo De Las Luces. 
 
Traveling up Santa Fe, our streetcar passes the Children’s Museum, the Museum of Art and Southwest University Park. And this is just a partial list of what the streetcars connects us with. 
Simply put, when someone visits San Antonio and is looking for something to do, they visit the River Walk. It has restaurants, historic sites, museums and shops.
Now, visualize our streetcar route and all the different and unique places and experiences on its route. So, let’s hop on and make it our River Walk.
El Paso is moving along being what it has always been and always will be, the Capital of the Border.
Peter Svarzbein is the West Side city Rep.
[end text]
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Edward B. Havens

Tucson, Ariz.

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Wednesday, December 06, 2017 5:56 PM

Remember seeing those cars stored formany years about 1 mile east of the east west runway of El Paso airport.  Main difference we remember they were painted with a green design ?

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Posted by Paul of Covington on Wednesday, December 06, 2017 10:38 PM

   I remember seeing those "buses on rails" in downtown El Paso back in 1962.   It was the first time I saw PCC cars.

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Posted by PJS1 on Wednesday, December 06, 2017 10:47 PM

I was in El Paso at the end of October.  The tracks for the streetcar have been laid, and the crews are stringing the wire.  Supposedly the cars will begin operating early in 2018.  

Rio Grande Valley, CFI,CFII

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Posted by alphas on Thursday, December 07, 2017 11:13 PM

I rode them some when I was stationed at Ft. Bliss.     I recall they were pretty crowded whenever I was on them with many of the passengers coming from or going to the border.     Riding them brought back memories of when I was a boy in Philadelphia.

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 11:48 AM
Driving a streetcar
It’s harder than you think
  • By Robert Gray / El Paso Inc.
 
(Monday, December `8, 2017)
 
When the first streetcars are placed on their brand new tracks about a month from now, their operators will have to navigate the 40,000-pound steel beasts through busy Downtown El Paso.
They will have to master the vintage streetcars’ three breaking systems, memorize a 40-page rulebook, navigate hills in all weather and keep customers happy.
They will have to know how to complete basic repairs, avoid deadly electric shock and operate their craft among confused drivers, pedestrians and anything else Downtown might throw at them – all while confined to a track.
“You see a bus or a streetcar going down the street and you think, ‘That couldn’t be too difficult.’ Yes, it is,” said Carl Jackson, who was recruited to El Paso to help set up the streetcar system. “Despite what you might see, there is much more to it than driving a car.”
That’s why streetcar operators are called “operators” and not “drivers,” according to Jackson, assistant director at Sun Metro.
The streetcars, which were part of life and work in El Paso until the early 1970s, are scheduled to return for testing beginning in January or February.
One streetcar will arrive every month or two, delivered by Brookville Equipment Corporation in Pennsylvania, where they are being restored. The six streetcars languished for years outside at El Paso International Airport, collecting sand and bird nests.
The streetcar system is three months ahead of schedule and expected to open to the public just before Thanksgiving, according to Jackson. Until then, the streetcars will undergo extensive testing.
Jackson, 68, said transit is in his blood. He grew up in New York where his grandfather and father worked in transit.
“I was a transit junkie from the beginning,” he said. “You have people that are into baseball, and you have those that are into trains.”
Even so, Jackson’s first job was not working on trains or busses. He worked on another machine: Navy submarines.
Then, in 1984, he took a job at Honeywell designing torpedoes.
Eventually, he went to work for King County Metro Transit in Seattle, Washington. He worked there for 24 years as the streetcar operations and maintenance supervisor.
Most recently, he was recruited to Atlanta, Georgia, and Kansas City, Missouri, where he helped establish streetcar systems. The grand opening was always a celebration.
“It gets pretty emotional,” Jackson said.
Last year, he was asked to help rebuild the streetcar system in El Paso. All he knew about El Paso at the time was what he learned from the television show “The Bridge,” a gritty tale of murder on the border.
“I said, ‘Man, I don’t know about all this. I’m just a kid from Brooklyn,’” Jackson said.
But when he and his wife visited El Paso in person, their impression of the Sun City changed entirely. Jackson started work in June of last year. He plans to retire here.
How do you become a streetcar operator?
“Whatever you think you know about driving a vehicle of any kind, leave it at the door,” Jackson said.
The first step is to become a bus driver. Jackson plans to hire from the ranks of Sun Metro bus drivers for about 19 streetcar operator positions.
“After going through training to become a bus driver, they have basically gone through transit 101,” Jackson said.
One of the first things students will see is a video of rail accidents.
They will not only have to learn how to operate a streetcar, they will also have to memorize 35 to 45 regulations – everything from when they can wear sunglasses to how much they have to reduce their speed if there is 1/4 inch of water over the track.
The streetcar uses several different breaking systems. Which one is used depends on the speed. A button, known in the industry as “the mushroom,” brings the streetcar to an emergency stop.
“The contact patch between the wheel and the rail is only about the size of a quarter,” Jackson said.
Operators also have to learn how to troubleshoot mechanical problems safely, so if they have to, they can work with a technician over the radio to resolve a problem. That begins by learning basic electrical theory.
“You’re talking about a vehicle that runs strictly off of electricity,” Jackson said. “The electricity is very, very and let me emphasize, very high voltage.”
In the end, though, Jackson said the PCC-type streetcars are very reliable and safe.
“It’s as safe, or safer, than any other vehicle,” he said.
According to Jackson, there will be a “well-defined hiring process” that will include an application, review by committee and interview.
Asked how much the streetcar operators will be paid, Jackson said he couldn’t say off the top of his head. But the pay will be similar to that of a Sun Metro bus driver.
The 4.8-mile route includes 27 stops and stretches from Downtown to the University of Texas at El Paso.
“I have to tell you, it’s the best choice I ever made,” Jackson said about coming to El Paso. “I’m staying in El Paso. We both love it here.”


Information: SunMetro.net/streetcar.
[end text]
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Edward B. Havens
Tucson, Ariz. 
 
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Posted by CandOforprogress2 on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 5:03 PM

he 4.8-mile route includes 27 stops and stretches from Downtown to the University of Texas at El Paso.  At that rate we will get there by next week.

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Posted by doghouse on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 2:21 AM

Hey! Thats my home town.  Rode the tram as a kid.  And yes, they were green.  Sort of a light green.

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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 5:04 AM

The light green and tan color scheme you remember is the color scheme National City Lines used (GM-Firestone-Texaco) after they bought the transit system.  The think that the blue-grey scheme was used by the earlier company, and/or by the city after they took over from NCL.  I think the intention is to use both or maybe three historically correct color schemes to give variety, somewhat like SF's F Line, but all El Paso.

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