Right when the streetcar opened up in El Paso, many locals complained about the waste of money. After a year of not running due to COVID, the city needs to think about their strategy as well as make money.
Sun Metro plans to restart the streetcar in the fall. Ellyn Smyth said maintenance on the streetcar and the tracks has been conducted in 2020 and 2021.
“There’s nothing wrong with the street cars, we’ve kept them fully maintained, we have all of the driver certifications, we have track maintenance requirements so we can start today, we actually run once a month for testing so we can start immediately,” said Smyth.
Maintenance on the streetcars is not the issue. The main issue has been why would people use the streetcar that only travels around downtown and to UTEP.
Before a firm date can be set on restarting the streetcar, Sun Metro needs to build a connection with residents to have the streetcar running again. Smyth and her team needs to be creative to sparks the interest of El Paso residents.
The first year, riding the streetcar was free to get interest from residents. Then riders were charged a fee and ridership dropped off.
“I know that once we started charging the regular fare of $1.50, the ridership really dropped off and so I’m looking at ways to make it free forever because it should be more fun. It doesn't really count as an alternative to transportation because it goes in a loop so that's not really what people are needing if they're looking for a bus ride,” said Smyth.
5 Suggestions from Tricia
Tricia of the Mike and Trica on the KISS FM 93.1 morning show came up with five suggestions. Mike is not a fan of the streetcar but Trica thinks there is still hope.
“I love it and see it as an amenity that we need to ramp up our tourism game in the downtown area.” commented Tricia.
Her suggestions include:
1. Pub crawls.
Charge riders $10 to travel between bars in the Cincinnati district and downtown. Riders could have their car parked at a central location and travel on the streetcar without getting a DUI. The group could also work with Uber and Lyft for rides after the event.
2. Church crawls.
The next suggestion is to charge $10 and have the streetcar give a historical tour of the Immaculate Conception, Sacred Heart, and St. Patrick's Cathedral. Either the streetcar driver or a representative can give the history of the churches.
3. Restaurant Crawls.
This tip recommends taking travelers to visit different restaurants. At each stop, the traveler can get a taste at one of the local restaurants before they move to the next location.
4. Bridal parties.
This one would be for a bridal party and letting the group do a pub crawl. This would allow the group to park in a central location and then get escorted to for the celebration.
5. History crawls.
The ghost tours and history walks could use the streetcar to give a tour of the specific topic. This saves people from walking especially during summer when the temperature exceeds 100 F.
Charging $10 may be fine for individuals but depending on the event, the fees could be higher or lower. If there were a group rate, the fees might be a little lower and also encourage people to use the streetcar.
In addition to bringing money in for the streetcar, this helps the local businesses as well. There are other ideas but this is just the start and can encourage more ideas from others.
Do you have any suggestions on how the city can use the streetcar and encourage riders?